Tef Poe and Rockwell Knuckles dropped their much-anticipated David Ruffin Theory EP this week, and it is spectacular. Across twelve tracks of ethereal production Tef and Rocky weave in and out, each skillfully employing his individual style -- Rocky's more sing-songy approach still contrasts beautifully with Tef's hard-edged, pointed lyricism.
From the first song, "Introduce Us," the mission plan is clear: Knuckles decides to "keep it simple, stupid" while Poe comes in "realer than religion," respectively, wasting no time in setting the no-bullshit tone that permeates the album. Trifeckta's production is spacey and free, not overly simple but free of unnecessary frills, leaving the track wide open for its MCs to stomp all over. As an intro to the record, the song is a perfect opening salvo.
Speaking of Trifeckta, he takes care of the production on "Space & Opportunity" as well, which has "single" written all over it. Theresa Payne and Aloha Mi'sho handle the hook, which is catchy and smart -- and sure to be stuck in this reviewer's head for a couple weeks at least. Rounding out the track with a verse alongside the album's principals is Saint Orleans, another notable St. Louis rapper.
In fact, a lot of St. Louis artists appear throughout DTR. In addition to the aforementioned (every name you've read here so far is locally based), there's Nick Menn (whose track "Line Em Up" makes an appearance), Tech Supreme, Bentley Hendrixx and Chase the Money. The EP is even hosted by Trackstar the DJ, the St. Louis scene alumnus who acts as Killer Mike and El-P's DJ when the two are out running the jewels.
Overall, David Ruffin Theory is everything we hoped it would be. Classic Rocky meets Tef at his hungriest, with the two trading verses over able production and featuring a litany of St. Louis artists. The end result amounts to a perfect storm for our city's underground hip-hop scene at this moment.
Being that Tef Poe is a contributing writer for RFT Music, we thought it best to let him write out the answers to some questions for us via email:
Continue to page two for our interview with Tef and a stream of the new album.
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