WeUpOnIt Interviews Smif-N-Wessun


Ya’ll just dropped the ‘Monumental’ album with Pete Rock, what made ya’ll decide to get together with Pete Rock and put this project together?

Tek: It just felt like the right thing to do. With this album we want to solidify Smif-N-Wessun’s name in the hip hop game. Bring that sound back we felt like we should just have one producer instead of having an album all over the place going this way and that way.

Is this the first opportunity ya’ll had a chance to do a project like this. With only one producer?

Tek: Nah, [technically] Dah Shinin’.  Dah Shinin’ was completely done by the team of The Beatminers, our family. That was like one on one producing. Then it’s sort of like a continuation of working with one producer for this album.

Smif-N-Wessun is definitely solidified in hip hop. Ya’ll are gonna go down as one of the greatest groups ever [in hip hop]. Do you feel like ya’ll still have something to prove in 2011?

Steele: You always have to secure your spot. Every boxer just can’t retire with a championship. You’ve always gotta stay fit, you’ve always gotta stay conscious and you’ve always gotta stay relevant. And with us it’s appreciation from the fans that keeps us involved and the fact that we’re still just out there dealin’ with the community on different levels, we wanna be able to come out with 5 more albums.

Everybody’s be on their solo thing and come back and worked on albums together and what not. Is the entire Boot Camp Click still in communication with each other.

Tek: Yeah everybody is still rockin’ We’re actually goin’ start recording the next Boot Camp project in another month or 2 maybe 3 or 4. We actually picked beats and we’re gonna come up with some ideas and start working on that soon.

Ha. You just answered my next question. Well let’s talks about hip hop now. What are ya’lls thoughts about the Swag movement? The Lil Bs & the Odd Futures out there.

Tek: You know what. I rock with Odd Future. I like them dudes.

Would you ever consider working with them in near future?

Tek: I’m down for whatever.

Steele: I just heard something crazy with Tyler and Pusha T.

That “Trouble On My Mind”.

Steele: Yeah you gotta stop seperatin’ the music. It’s all music. It’s all hip hop. Everybody can express where they’re coming from. If the brands right and it the sounds right, the more people is better for us.

Are there any collaboration that might seem odd to the general public that you would want to do?

Tek: Shit man I still wanna rock with Lenny Kravitz and Prince. That mind seem odd.

That would really be some monumental shit right there.

Tek: *laughs*

Steele:  *laughs* For real. I would to do joint with Tracy Chapman too. Word up.

Is she still around?

Steele: Yeah, I think so.

Let’s talk about the Monumental release party incident.

Tek: Mmmm.

Let’s to that night; Ya’ll were performing. The night was going good. Then all of sudden it seemed the police busted and started spraying everybody [with pepper spray], they shut the club down and people were getting beat and brutalized outside. Can you explain what that night was like for you?

Steele: It was like *pause* Hell up in Bucktown. It was horrific. It was crazy. It was *pause* It’s really beyond explaining. After have such a dope party and seeing cats you look up to, people who look up to you, people from different parts of the world and you celebratin’ your 5th album. It was such a monumental occasion and all the energy was great. Then walking outside and just seeing the police wildin’. Ya know. We live in New York City. We’re used to a lot. Ya know what I’m sayin. But how it turned out, it was really just crazy. I can’t even find words to explain it. Where we’re at right now, where tryin’ to make sure those kinds of things don’t happen and if they do happen, God forbid if they do happen,  you’ve got people like us and other organizations that are in place to make sure we can deal with that and move past it. So the police don’t get away with bloody murder.

Exactly, Has anybody stepped in to see if they can take the course to put forth the court proceedings to get everything taken care of?

Steele: Absolutely, we’re on deck right now. Yesterday (7/28), we just had a town hall meeting in Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue at The House of the Lord respected pastor Herbert Daughtry  opened up his church to us. This is a church that’s been in the movement for a minute. We also had The People of Justice Coalition come out, Kevin Powell, Lamumba Bandele and people from CopWatch. This was like a serious situation with police brutality. We’re not taking this lightly. We’re gonna say this was just a random act that happened at a Smif-N-Wessun party, police beat people up & now let’s go back to work tomorrow. Nah, we gotta make sure. Five people were arrested that night. Many more were assaulted. Those five were charged with felonies. They’ve got court proceedings that are going on in September. We’ve got a lot of different thingS in place. For anybody that wants to find out more information about that, they can go to MonumentalFive.Bucktownusa.com. It’s not only about the Monumental Five, it’s about anybody who has experienced police brutality or witnessed it. Ya know. We’re on top of that. We have people in place like Kenneth Montgomery; he’s representing all the defendants right now. We’re just trying to get justice.

That’s good thing. ‘Cause what it looked like to me was the 60’s. All they needed was a water hose and some dogs.

Steele: *laughs*

Tek:  *laughs* German sheppards.

Exactly. That’s all they needed and the only difference was, is that there were white people getting beat on too.

Steele: *laughs* They think it’s a racist thing and it’s not a racist. Poverty is poverty. And when you’re out here in the world you gotta deal with a lot of personal relationships. Police have to do their part and we have to do our part as well. So the real police are people and we have to take care of our community. So when these foreigners come out here; and I’m not taking about the Mexicans or the Asians or the Africans. I’m talking about these police officers come here; they have to get to know the people in the neighborhood. They have to get to know the people that run the bodegas and who run the neighborhood cleaners or the Chinese food spot and the grandmothers. They can’t come around the neighborhood and be like ‘All you people, get over here and move this way’. Nah this is our hood. Ya’ll are visitors. Work with us or don’t come around here no more. All these things that they [the police] do and these things going on across America, in Oakland right now, ya know like the situation with Oscar Grant. His homie just got killed. He’s got a lawsuit against the police and [his friend] just mysteriously got murdered. It’s a lot things going on. It’s not an isolated incident but it just so happened and it was unfortunate that occurred on the night when Smif-N-Wessun and Pete Rock were celebratin’ their album release is what they want to focus on. They wanna focus on the album. We wanna focus on [the fact] that you can overcome all these different things that happen to you, all these random occurrences and all the unknown unknowns and known knowns and these obstacles and we’re going to exist and do monumental things. You can exist and do great things. That’s the effort that Tek and Steele and Pete Rock put in. That’s what we want to come out of this whole experience. So with the good comes the bad and with the bad comes the good. The situation with the police was a small thing. We’re gonna rep this for the people. We’re gonna make sure the whole Monumental Five get justice and get freed on all charges. We’re gonna continue making good music for the people.

That’s respectful. ‘Cause a lot of people aren’t doing that right now.

Steele:  Nah.

Tek: Not at all.

Steele: The most high put our interest in place. And from day one Smif-N-Wessun has always been about reppin’ their hood or reppin’ their community. A lot of people have been coming at us since day one and we’ve always been able to sustain. Praise be to the most high. We’ve always be able to stay PNC since day one. And it’s monumental that we’re one of the only groups out of many groups who have never broken up. We’re one of the only groups out of many groups that are still with their original team. We’re still with Duck Down. After 15 years, we’re still with Boot Camp Click. Yes the fam is still together. We’re still in contact but we’re all dealing with so many different life issues an we’ve gotta make sure we can handle it. That’s why this Monumental album with all the features and all people that are on there, it’s all family. Raekwon, Bun B, Hurricane G, Memph Bleek, Styles P this is all family. This ain’t just cats that we know from rappin’. Ya know. And Smif-N-Wessun is lettin’ it be known, if nobody else doesn’t want to talk about it we gon’ let it be known this is our family right here. Word up, hip hop is our house. This is our back yard right here.  Word up, what’s poppin’. *laughs* Let’s do big things.

What’s ya’lls favorite Smif-N-Wessun album?

Tek: It would have to be Da Shinin’.

Steele: Yeah it would have to be Da Shinin’.

Is that because that was your first album, that was your baby? The debut.

Steele: Yeah the debut. One of my sleeper albums is album #4. The self titled album. We literally went to the mountains of Scandinavia and recorded that one. Even when we did that album it was like one production team. It wasn’t a whole lot of producers scouted out but it was one production team and all the production was from one source. It’s some sleepers on there. Definitely some good tunes [on there]. It’ll take people probably another year to a year and a half to catch up but Monumental is where it’s at right now.

That’s the one that right in everybody face for 2011.

Steele: Right, it’s hard to dodge that one right now.

We’ve covered a lot of ground. What are some producers that ya’ll would like to work with.

Tek: It’s a lot cats there doin’ their thing.

Steele:  Preemo.

Tek: Nottz down in VA.

Steele: The homie Mellowhype who just did a track with Tyler The Creator.

Tek: Bangladesh gets busy.

Steele: We already did joint with 9th Wonder.

What ya’ll think about somebody like Just Blaze?

Steele: Yeah we fuck with the homie. He’s a good dude. I would definitely love doin’ some work with the homie.

Like a whole project.

Tek: Hmm. I never thought about it in that light. That might be kind of crazy.

Steele: I know he worked with Jay-Z so I know he could up with some NY anthems.

Tek: Exactly.

I was thinking along the lines of some the work that he did with Jay Electronica. The ‘Exhibit C’ sounding stuff.

Steele:  That’d be dope. Jay is dope too. I can see him rockin’ with Sean Price.

Tek: Oh yeah. I like that.

That’d be a nice little lineup.

Steele: That’s the thing about Boot Camp. We’ve got a lot of emcees that can match up with a lot of different emcees. Like when we do shows with Wu-Tang. We take some Wu-Tang members that match up better with Boot Camp members. Different recipes make the dish taste better. Different seasoning and all that. It’s all in how you flip it. That why this making music thing is dope.

As close as ya’ll are with Wu, would ya’ll ever think of doing a project with Wu?

Tek: It’s been in the works.

Is it really?

Tek: Yeah we’ve been workin’ on it trying to make it happening. We’re tryin’ to see what it’s about now.

That’s what up. That would be huge. If you could get everybody all together at the same time with everything at one point, then yeah that would be huge.

Tek: That would be crazy.

Steele: That would be like wow.

Tek: That would be the biggest problem we would have. Is getting’ everybody together at the same time. Everybody schedules is do hectic that would be the biggest problem.

What’s next for Smif-N-Wessun?

Tek: We’re working with different projects right now. We’ve got the next Boot Camp album we’re going to start recording. Shout out to Black Rob and his new project. Slaute Duck Down.  I’ve got the Beard Gang album about to drop with Jakk Frost, Philly Freezer and myself and a couple of other Beard Gang members that we’re rockin’ with. Be on the look out for that.

Steele: They can go to Bucktownusa.com and catch the updates. We’ve always got different things that we’re workin’ on and different artist that’ll be comin’ out on Bucktown USA. We’re focusing on things and having our feet planted in the community right now. Like the big home Rick Ross said ‘It’s deeper than rap’. It’s not like Smif-N-Wessun just be rappin’ all day long, 24 hours a day. We’ve got a lot of different responsibilities to make this whole thing work. So just be in tuned with us and jeep in touch with us. One love to our fam out there and all those supportin’ us we’ll be stayin’ focused.