April 26, 2014

Smoothe Da Hustler "Next" Feature In Vibe Magazine (April, 1996)


"Death becomes Smoothe Da Hustler: "I got off the train, and a kid looked at me in shock and said, 'I heard you got shot, son!'" Smoothe is regaling his crew at Brooklyn's Nexx Level Studios with the much exaggerated tale of his death. This past New Year's Eve, a man who resembled Smoothe was reported on a local news show to have been killed. Even Smoothe's mother and his younger brother / occasional rhyme partner, Trigga da Gambler, panicked. It was easy to believe Smoothe's hustling days had caught up with him. But Smoothe chuckles at the memory. "I was in a hotel room, butt-naked with socks on, lookin' like this" - he folds his arms and assumes a laid-back mack daddy pose - "watching the news." Like Wu-Tang Clan's 1994 "C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)" and Black Moon's "Shit Iz Real" from 1993, "Brooklyn Language" - the B-side to Smoothe's first-released but less-embraced "Hustlin'" - exquisitely defines the moment. Over stripped-down drums, Smoothe and Trigga each drop maxims Dolomite-style: "The money stasher / Gun-blastin' razor slasher / The human asthma breath taker / Body dump waster." It's Brooklyn gangsta rap, from a brother who's lived it." Check out the visuals (again) to "Broken Language," cont'd below...


"I sold drugs and all that," Smoothe admits, "to take slack off my mother - which she didn't want us to do." In his spare time, though, he and Trigga wrote rhymes and Smoothe recorded two songs for his friend, producer D/R Period. Things seemed to be movin' on up, but in 1994, Smoothe's hustling landed him in jail for six months on a gun possession charge. "Period got a buzz going while I was locked up," says Smoothe. Upon his release, he signed a deal with Profile. Now he's slangin' metaphors instead of dope. Once Upon A Time In America, Smoothe's coarse debut, is a hard look into his past and the forces that shaped his outlook. "This album is my life," he says, shrugging. "People think thug n!ggas can't get deep because we rock hoodies and portray a certain image. We're surrounded by it - but that doesn't mean our minds are trash." - Vibe, April 1996.