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The Club Beat With King Tutt

After naming King Tutt the best club producer of the year in last month's Best of Baltimore issue, we decided to pay a visit to the man himself and hear what he's been working on. As it turns out, our award may have been premature; not that he hasn't proven himself with killer tracks such as "African Chant" and "Big Girl Theme," but because the tracks we heard that haven't reached the public yet represent a quantum leap forward for both the 26-year-old producer and, possibly, club music as a whole. King Tutt has been working his way up as a Baltimore club DJ since getting turntables for his 14th birthday. But it's only been in the last few years that he's gained enough confidence in his tracks to let the world hear them. "I started makin' tracks in like '99," he says. "Little stupid stuff, nothin' really serious." His first official 12-inch single, however, released through his own Excalibur label with Rod Lee's Club Kingz Records, featured the club staple "Shake My Ass," with a memorable hook that, it turns out, was sung by Tutt's ex-girlfriend: "I'm'a shake my ass/ I'm'a show my thong/ I do what I want/ Ain't nothin' wrong." But a more frequent vocalist on King Tutt's tracks has been U-Turn Management vice president Antonio Mottz, who hollered the hook on "The Roof Is on Fire" and turned the classic Big Punisher skit "Pakinamac" into the club anthem "Back of the Ac." It was after the release of "Shake My Ass" that Tutt earned the respect of Unruly Records co-founder Scottie B, with whom he'd been working at Inner City Records. "Scottie was like, 'Aw, you gettin' good now,'" Tutt recalls. "If Scottie likes your tracks, you good." From there, King Tutt and Scottie B became frequent collaborators, on original tracks as well as big remix jobs, like the official Baltimore club remix of go-go godfather Chuck Brown's recent single "Chuck Baby." Tutt also plays an important role in other Unruly releases, mastering mix CDs for K-Swift's popular Jumpoff series. But right now, Tutt's priority is finishing a full-length album, The Evolution, set for release by Unruly in early 2008. "I'm trying to really not rush it," he says. "I call it The Evolution because I feel like everyone's stuck at one point, as far as club music," he notes, pointing out that Baltimore producers are still filling every other track with Lil Jon samples, despite the fact that the Atlanta rap producer fell out of vogue years ago. Of course, many musicians talk about evolution—or put the word "evolution" in the title of their album—but based on the tracks King Tutt previewed for us, he's got the music to back it up. Breaking the traditional club format of a continuous DJ mix—featuring brief snippets of songs that often consist of a simple eight-bar loop—Tutt's composing long, structured songs with original synth melodies and house-style builds and climaxes. "It's gonna be just song-song-song, it's not gonna be mixed," he says as he plays a mind-blowing track set to open the album, noting that much of his inspiration came from DJing in New York with Scottie and seeing what music crowds outside Baltimore respond to. "I'm just tryin' to change, get people thinkin' outside the box."

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