King Tee is on the beach in California backed by a 12-foot wall of sound.
His DJ, a squad of bikini girls, and some homies rally up for the music video to his song "Bass," an early Compton gangsta boogie track from 1987. Later, the Notorious B.I.G. would tell friends that King Tee was one of his greatest vocal influences.
Sean Diddy Combs verified the fact for E-Swift, the DJ and producer for Tha Alkaholiks, the group that Tee mentored and helped land its first record deal.
"I know Puff. We was on tour with them back in the day," says Swift. "P. Diddy himself told me Biggie was influenced by King Tee."
Twenty years later, and Tha Alkaholiks are still touring, partying, and keeping the legacy of '90s L.A. hip-hop alive around the world.
When we catch E-Swift on the phone in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, it's 10 a.m. and he's "sippin' a leftover hot beer from the night before, tryin' to get it all before the fizz is gone."
This is not Swift's best experience with alcohol. That honor is accorded to "being in the studio recording 'Hip Hop Drunkies' with Ol Dirty Bastard," Tha Alkaholik says.
"We had the biggest bottle of vodka on the planet, finished it before we started recording, and no one passed out before the song was over," Swift recalls. "It was a great evening."
Tha Alkaholiks and its Likwit Crew rose to fame in 1993 with 21 & Over, the group's debut album on Loud Records. It spawned shows around the country with the likes of Too Short, Ice Cube, and KRS-One, and helped them lock in a huge underground fanbase.
So, based on experience, Swift says the world's hardest drinkers are in Finland, and the best weed is from California. And when asked for expert advice on mixing the two, he says, "Just make sure it's some really good weed."
Tha Alkaholiks' The Clash of the Titans Tour. With Casual, Cisum Tomorrow featuring Wes Nyle, Salazar, and DDLuxz, plus DJs Heron and Exes. Friday, September 20. The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $15 plus fees via brownpapertickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-576-9577 or visit thestagemiami.com.
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