the new issue of spains leading rap magazine hip hop nation, features a new interview with hip hop legends smif n wessun.
read it in spanish by clicking the images below.
or read the english version by k1x correspondent daniel klein…
You been in the game for a minute, 15 years to be exact, since people were able to hear you on Black Moons “Enta Da Stage” album in 1993. What is it that keeps your engine running after all these years?
First of all, it’s the love for it. Being a part of it is like an honor. And if you love something that much, you never let it die. You fight for it. And that’s what Hip Hop needs the most right now, people fighting for it. New York Hip Hop is going through hard times right now. I equal it to having a child. A child going to school, from elementary school on to college and they are growing to be an individual and start their own life independently. Hip Hop has become a multi-million Dollar business since I first got into it. Back then it probably was a million Dollar business. The marketing aspect wasn’t as big but now it is. Hip Hop sells everything from iPhones to cars to coffee. And of course it has opened up a lot of doors. But at the same time it has effected the craftiness-ship of it. These are two important aspects. Positive, it opened a lot of doors but on the negative, motherfuckers got lazy. I know people saying Hip Hop makes money so I’ma start doing Hip Hop. But it don’t make money like this. You gotta dedicate yourself into it. But they don’t have no talent what so fucking ever, the only thing that keeps ‘em going is the ambition to make money. But I know what’s going on. We ain’t getting attracted to bullshit.
But do you think it is a matter of time until south music will be played out and it’s all about New York again?
You see – there is NO south artist with a history like Nas, Black Moon or Smif-N-Wessun, LL Cool J, a Jay-Z or the success of a Kanye West or 50 Cent. When it comes to east coast rappers, it’s too many of us. It is okay for the south to have their time to shine, getting their plays on the radio. But that’s not what Hip Hop is about, you feel me? Radio? That’s a marketing tool. MTV, BET? That’s not Hip Hop, it’s a marketing tool. These motherfuckers play rap so they can sell product in-between. Basically it is about Nike or the Cherokee Jeep. Hip Hop comes from a deeper place. The east- and the west coast have been pioneers when it comes to Hip Hop music, period. Zulu Nation, Too Short, Ice-T, coming back over here dealing with Fat Boys, Run DMC, and these are the entitys that are legendary for ever. A lot of these down south artist they make a hot tune, a hot ring tone and that’ll be it. Of course there are some that are solid. UGK? Legendary! They have been recording since for ever. But they became popular and reached the world when they did “Big Pimpin’” with Jay-Z. A east coast artist. You will never ever get all of the respect if you didn’t make it on the east coast. The east coast will always be the mecca regardless of whos time it is that they’re shining at that particular time. The east will always be dominating in this shit. There is only a few legends and most of them, they from here (laughs).
What role does the city of New York play in your life and when it comes to making music?
New York has always been a big part in my creativity. I was raised in New York. Before I started rhyming, that’s all I knew. New York, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the culture that you have in Brooklyn – phenomenal! Different backgrounds, different races, you got people from everywhere living in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Harlem, Queens and the Bronx. So if you go through these boroughs it is pretty much like traveling around the world. You got places in Brooklyn where are just Russians or just Jewish, Polish people, Asian people, just African and I mean not those black Afro-American motherfuckers but real Africans. It seems like all those people, from where ever they from, brought their culture with them to New York City. NY is a big melting pot, Brooklyn esspecially. You go to Jamaica and be like “wow, look how crazy it is” and then we come back to Brooklyn and be like “damn”, go to Ocean Ave. or Franklin Ave. and you see all those west-indians and you be like “wow, this is like Jamaica”. That alone teaches us to have a balance.
What is the most beautiful thing of you being a rap artist and part of the legendary force named Duck Down?
The most beautiful thing about being a rap artist is being part of that force, being part of Duck Down. This is the institution that I came in the game with and that I’m still with. On another note, I am able to travel the world. I’ve been to Japan three times, been to Europe several times, to South America several times and it’s only because of Hip Hop. I meet people, not only rappers, young individuals around the globe and get a chance to talk to them, to share experiences with them. Who doesn’t wanna go to South America, make a Dollar and do something that you love? It’s a blessing. And all that shit that comes with it, the traveling, long hours on the plane, long hours on the road, is definitly worth it. As soon as you step on stage infront of thousands of people, you know what you doing this for. These motherfuckers don’t even speak your language but they know your motherfucking music. That’s love! When I wake up, I’m in Brooklyn. But it is a great feeling knowing that there are Hip Hop motherfuckers in Chile, Columbia, Ghana or Stockholm that are like “I fucks with Smif-N-Wessun”! So, that we are traveling the world and that we are still a solid team means everything to me.
And what’s the secret behind Duck Down?
I don’t know, man. There was this white dude and this black dude and they became friends. And now they running this shit. It’s a very sincere friendship and business-relationship. Dru-Ha and Buckshot are selling records since ’93. We maybe missed two years but except that we been selling since ’93. We are what we call P.N.C.’s, partners in crime. We have a great respect for each other and Dru-Ha, as a businessman, he’s no joke. Same way for Buck. Their relationship is phenomenal. They took us to Priority deals, Rawkus deals, Koch deals – they are always on point when it comes to what their groups need and where their itches are. We had that Koch deal before Dipset was signed there and everybody was talking about them. That was the time when Koch had just signed Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and KRS 1 and we didn’t even had something recorded yet but were sitting in their offices. But now it’s all about focusing on us. We may not do big numbers but our releases speak for themselfes. In the past couple of years we had two releases from Sean Price, a release from Buckshot and two Smif-N-Wessun releases. We got so many nice artists that we can release now like bang, bang bang…(laughs).
Talking of partners in crime – what does Tek mean to you?
That’s my partner, man, that’s me. That’s the other side of me right there, know what I mean? Anything that one experiences, the other is influenced by. Everything we do individually, we do together. Me and Tek is like flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. That’s my P.N.C. for life, I’d do anything for him and vice versa. That’s what’s up.
Speaking about “The Album”, what are the most important things that you gotta say about the last Smif-N-Wessun Release?
This is my fourth album, man, and that alone is big for me. I always wanted to have some kind of consistancy, some kind of legacy. Even if you never heard “Tha Shinin’” or “The Rude Awakening”, “The Album” might turn you on to listen to that old shit, too. This album came at a great time, a time where Hip Hop was asking for diversity. Hip was bombarded with the same kind of music. You know, the down south crunk shit poppin’ off, the Hyphy-movement poppin’ off and a whole lot of gangster shit and crack tales poppin’ off and the scene has been screaming for some diversity so there you have it. Hip Hop is not dead!
And what’s up in 2008?
I guess you gon’ get another Smif-N-Wessun album, just because. It’s gon’ be a little more hard and rougher. You gon’ hear a new Boot Camp album, you might hear a Steele solo-album, that’s something I’ve been working on the past two years. I want that to be perfect. You also can look forward to Rustee Juxx, the Heltah Skeltah album, another Buckshot album with 9th Wonder, Duck Down talks to Diamond D. and KRS right now…Kidz In The Hall, Promise from Canada – a whole lot of shit going on in ’08.
Last thing, I want you to tell me what first comes into your mind hearing…
Bucktown – home of the original gun clappers.
New York City.
…Timbs or sneakers?
I shine, you shine.
A gift and a curse.
Git it or git got.
…rap fans in- and outside the US?
…being a rap artist like yourself?
I already used ‘a gift and a curse’, huh? Can I change that? I used it for the women, right? So for the women I would say ‘gods gift to men’ and for being an artist I say ‘a gift and a curse’.
see tek & steele live in chile here: