Tef Poe and Rockwell Knuckles' David Ruffin Theory is Everything We Hoped it Would Be

Categories: Hip-Hop, Reviews

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Jason Stoff
Tef Poe and Rockwell Knuckles

Daniel Hill: How does it feel to finally have this record out? It has been a long time coming.

Tef Poe: It feels great. So many of our future plans are resting on the shoulders of this. The release of all my future solo music is pending the reach of this project. We also plan on doing another project together -- we're actually already starting on the follow up. We destroyed and remade this project at least three times. Tech Supreme's hard drive crashed and we lost a bulk of the work and had to bury ourselves in the studio to recreate the magic. We've talked about this project since 2009. Everything is about timing; in terms of releasing music Rockwell Knuckles and I both have zero problems sitting on a body of music and waiting for the perfect time to pull the trigger. Trackstar the DJ took a brief break from his overseas touring schedule with Killer Mike; once he got involved he single-handedly made everything more cohesive.

It seems like it's getting a lot of positive attention already since it dropped. Can you speak to that?

Out the gate people started referring to this EP as a classic. Each project you release grows differently; each body of music has its own identity. I couldn't have predicted things would go this way. People in London, Paris, Hawaii, Canada , New York and Memphis have contacted us about this EP. It's growing every day, and the reviews are excellent, for the most part. In St. Louis right now this is every hip-hopper's wet dream. We put the city on our back and said we will willingly compete with whatever the standard is on the national level. A producer from the West coast by the name of Trox said some pretty amazing things about us yesterday -- he's also worked with 50 Cent. A few high level tastemakers in our genre are speaking extremely high praises about us right now. We're going to do everything we can to take advantage of this energy and the current attention we are attracting.

I saw a lot of St. Louis artists listed as collaborators. Was that a conscious decision or a matter of convenience?

Everyone featured on the project is family. You very seldom see me on stage without Nick Menn and RT-Faq. They've been all over the country touring with me for the last two years. Saint Orleans is family as well; he's a member of our collective and his crew Aviator Gang has toured with us as well. Corey Black is with me everyday. Aloha is like a sister to me; I've known her since before she even thought about auditioning for American Idol. I spit a lyric on the album saying, "Around the same time Nelly sold 20 mil / I was in the trap reading comic books and selling pills." Well unfortunately she was in that same exact trap house with us, singing and writing songs.Theresa Payne is a permanent fixture in everything that Rockwell and I release. She's basically the invisible member of our duo. Almost every producer on this project has St. Louis ties except for KT the Terrible and Smiff N Cash. This is nothing new, though. We've always used this same exact formula.

What is your favorite track?

Its hard for me to gauge my favorite track. I knew the fans and critics would like "Malcolm X." One of Eminem's friends from his underground days, a New York based emcee named Skam (Em mentioned him in the lyrics of "Stan") called Rocky and told him this record was ridiculous. Chase the Money produced that record -- he's still in high school. I think "In For The Kill" is nothing short of incredible. My favorite verse is Rockwell's "Rap Fucked Up" remix verse. Most rappers work with someone like Rocky and attempt to imitate them or change their style, but this is a rap album (not a rap battle), so we both stayed in our lane did what we do best. We're a partnership, so all the egotistical bullshit was thrown out the window the day we sat down and started working on this project. We weren't even in the same city when we recorded "Why Not." He sent me a blank canvass with a few vocal stabs of him saying the most random punchlines and I filled it in. We've sat on most of these records for two years, so really I can't call it. My favorite beat is the joint Tech Supreme-produced "Don't Fuck Dem Hoes." It sounds like late '90s Timbaland to me.

What's next?

Right now I'm the studio every day, writing with a new female singer Tech's working with by the name of SMS. My next solo project is Cheer For The Villain, which will be entirely produced by DJ Burn One. He's worked with the likes of Asap Rocky, Yelawolf, Freddie Gibbs and Gucci Mane. Rockwell is about to release It's All Happening. All of our producers, from Trifeckta to Average Jo, are constantly feeding us instrumentals and concepts. After Cheer For The Villain I plan on releasing a project titled The Number Two Headband. Tech and I are sitting on about 50 records that could potentially be used for this project, but I'm hoping to work on some new material with the Urban Legendz and Trifeckta. I'm also building a few new records with a Chicago producer by the name of Dave The King. Hopefully by the summer I can have a solid buzz building for the release of my national debut retail album via Bungalo/Universal.

Rockwell recently signed a deal with XMG -- they're based out of Colorado so I'm sure we'll find ourselves traveling back and forth as his team pieces the game plan together even further. We're about to drop a few videos for DRT and we'll be onstage with Nipsey Hussle on January 18 at Pop's. There's a lot happening at once right now. It confuses me and frustrates me at times but we are both grateful.

Last words?

We have merch for sale; you should buy some!

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