Even as a new artist, King Harris has one royal foundation. Raised in Long Beach & developed in Oxnard, California, the MC who uses his government name has collaborated with E-40 (“Thirsty”), toured the country with his cousin Jay Rock & Tech N9ne, and been a fixture in the studio with Kendrick Lamar & ScHoolboy Q. Now, he’s teaming with Gangrene’s Oh No for his debut album, ‘Nightmare On Wolff Street‘, a breakthrough project in a career & a life that truly stands out.
“Oxnard has always been a breeding ground for that sound that’s popular,” deduces King in a year where natives Madlib & Anderson .Paak have been behind two of 2016’s biggest albums (‘The Life Of Pablo‘ & ‘Malibu‘). “When somebody from Oxnard gets on, that’s the little door, and then it turns into a big hole.”
By 16, dividing his time between the LBC & his grandparents’ place in Oxnard, King Harris began to earn off-the-books money “I was selling crack at 16 in Oxnard. All the stuff that I rap about now, more than likely, it happened in Ox. But as far as gangs & all that shit, that’s Long Beach.” While his cousin Jay Rock would sign a major label deal, Harris was not putting in the necessary work. “I was always serious about Rap, but I never wanted to take pointers from anybody.” In 2008, King would go to county jail & then prison for robbery. After serving his bid, Harris could not adapt. “When I got out from jail, I was trying to fly straight—but I couldn’t find a job to feed my family. I got back into selling drugs.” It was here that King Harris viewed his passion differently; and got the concept for his debut album (he was arrested on “Wolff Street”).
While incarcerated, King sharpened his pen and wrote his way out of a criminal life. Seeing Jay and the genesis of TDE on prison TV sets inspired him. Upon his release in 2010, his cousin from Watts paid him a visit. “Jay Rock drove up to Oxnard. We did all the shit cousins do, go out to eat, catch up.” Before they parted, King wanted to show Jay what he’d been up to. “I wanted to kick somethin’ for him that I wrote when I was locked up. You know you spit a dope verse when the nigga you with gotta get his rhymes ready to come back at you.”
Between 2010 and 2012, King Harris would become a staple at Top Dawg’s headquarters. There, he fellowshipped with Kendrick, Ab-Soul, and ScHoolboy Q. In a tight-knit crew of visionary artists, Harris was embraced. “I was rollin’ around with TDE, I had just as much access to the studio as anybody else.” King also fostered a bond with Strange Music, including touring with Stevie Stone, Krizz Kaliko, and Kutt Calhoun and he was featured on Tech N9ne’s ‘Welcome To Strangeland‘ tribute “EMJ”.
After all of these opportunities, it is time for King Harris to focus on him and he refuses to rely on handouts. “Jay Rock and Punch are family and believe in me, but they always tell me it’s about quality, not cosigns” King asserts.
Teaming with Oh No, they hit the lab and created King’s debut ‘Nightmare On Wolff Street‘, (which will be released in June); an album that effectively bridges 1988 with 2016 and is inspired by milestone Cali Hip-Hop classics like Snoop’s ‘Doggystyle‘ and The Game’s ‘The Documentary‘ (The Game appears on King’s “Right Back To The Money”, a funky concoction of break-beats and boastful bars).
King Harris & Oh No effectively bridge 1998 with 2016 by modernizing and paying homage to Ice-T’s classic West Coast anthem “Colors”, but apply the title to a wider scope. The theme rap from the 1988 Dennis Hopper-directed film of the same name, “Colors” has always stood for a tour guide through the ganglands of Southern California. Almost 30 years later, Harris honors the formula—keeping the imagery strong and the chorus intact. Whereas Ice chronicled the bandana colors of the gangs (as portrayed in the film), King Harris opens the door to include the racial tensions plaguing cities, including the Ox’ and Oh No uses some of the Afrika Islam & Ice-produced elements from the Sire Records single.
King relayed to AmbrosiaForHeads:
“I always wanted to flip that beat. ‘Colors’ was always one of my favorite movies; it was real in my eyes. It didn’t feel the least bit Hollywood to me. I was seeing that shit around me every day. When O (Oh No) and I were making the album, I knew I wanted him to use this sample; especially with all of the racial tension that is going on—it was perfect.”
You can cop King Harris’ debut album, ‘Nightmare On Wolff Street‘, via iTunes!!!