My everyday lifestyle ain’t nuttin’ but a hustle

Smoothe Da Hustler

By: Jared B. Ware

Philaflava: What have you been up to lately?

Smoothe Da Hustler: Aww man, I’ve been up to a few things actually. I’ve been gettin’ out of contracts, yeah it took me awhile to get out of a contract. I did a Smith Brothers album, which is me and Trigga Tha Gambler my brother, we’ve been actually gettin’ back tapes, keepin’ the masters, from Tommy Boy. And then we just finished individual albums, been touring, and doin’ some father shit, I’m a single father so you know. More focused on the family.

PF: So you’ve stayed doin’ things in the music industry you didn’t go and do something else for awhile?

Smoothe Da Hustler: Yeah, I ain’t go do nothin’ else. We actually did an album with Ice-T too, called Reposession and we took on a name of Sex, Money, and Guns that’s the group’s name. But SMG is the name of me and Trig’s company. So that was kind of a like a little jump start for the little label thing, doin’ the group. Doin’ the group helped get the label name out a little further.

PF: Do you ever see the prices your album gets on Ebay? How do you feel about that?

Smoothe Da Hustler: It actually feels good you know what I mean? It’s bad that I don’t fully, fully own that first album. I share the rights with… you know. So that’s the thing, that’s a big up for me, that’s crazy. Cuz I had went to Europe awhile back and it was sittin’ in the classic section. What they had? They had a few like… I was like “Wow! Oh Shit!” Like right next to RUN-DMC and them shits. So you know, sometimes it’s good, sometime’s it’s you know… Sometimes I’m like “Damn,” the album, that shit deserved a whole lot more. It got it’s bang out it’s buck, I mean just know we was independent, we was an independent production company that was already doin’ it on the independent tip that got picked up from Profile, as a production company. So you know, big up to Profile, cuz they helped to push it further than we could’ve ever pushed it, but you know sometimes I feel that record deserved a whole lot more. But I feel real good about that shit, I got the first, FIRST one, uh cd so it’s all good.

PF: Do you ever think about putting the Smith Brothers album or Trigga’s Life’s a 50/50 Gamble on a smaller independent?

Smoothe Da Hustler: *Cuts In* Oh so you know about that shit huh!? Of course. Actualy that’s funny you said that shit, cuz we got the 50/50 Gamble, Life’s a 50/50 Gamble album, we kinda like structuring release dates. We shootin’… right now at this time we got like an in-house team of like two directors, they shoot videos. We got like a small little company. So right now we shootin’ videos actually, we’re up to our third one, which is the first one, this is the single called “I’m From New York (Brooklyn),” and we did the video on Sunday. So we been goin’ hard with that. People will start hearing like a lot more Trig, we got a new Trigga tha Gambler album First Time Around, Second Time Coming, we got like a slew of shit, and a Smooth Da Hustler mix cd, United Slums of America. Like we just got so much stuff it’s crazy, but being independent we like OK, the internet serves it’s purpose, a lot of great promotional tools can serve their purpose, but we don’t wanna just be puttin’ a bunch of shit out, puttin’ a bunch of shit out. So we’ll be sellin’ a lot of stuff on smoothedahustler.com, triggathagambler.com, or plus for certain joints, depending on our capital, puttin’ them in the stores. But we tryin’ to do like press up ten-thousand, go to the region, and do a bunch of shows. We tryin’ to really take it back to the old way, slow money, but it’s good money.

PF: Yeah because you’d might be surprised at the interest that’s out there man. When I asked people on our forum for some questions for this interview, we got like two pages worth of responses in no time. So there’s a lot of people out there that respect the craftmanship and creativity you and Trig bring man.

Smoothe Da Hustler: Yeah man and that’s well respected. Like we was just speakin’ to each other about that the other day. My friend, she had got me into this class real quick, like a business class, and we was just politickin’ just on what makes a product different. And you know that was like a real direct question, you know being an artist a cat can be so close-minded. But you know that was pretty much the key, like being creative, but umm… tryin’ to be different, but actually being yourself and not scared to really try anything.

PF: So how’d you hook up with D/R Period back in the day?

Smoothe Da Hustler: Oh DR was a producer, he was an around the way producer, he grew up in our neighborhood. So I used to stop by his studio, and just check out his beats, and you know freestyle for the cats that he had down there. You know I would always feel that I was better than niggas anyway. But like I ain’t really have no time or nothin’. So like certain times I would stop, he would record it, and you know just on a regular drum beat like and you know be like “ahh I’ma fix that up,” whatever, whatever. He was recording M.O.P. at the time, and I got in some trouble and had to go away and do some time, not much, but when I came home, that’s when… Around the time I was coming home, M.O.P. was shootin’ they video, and my brother and them had the song, had a few of my songs, in the Jeep. The reference, that DR did, he had built tracks around the reference stuff that I laid, and the response was great. Like they was playin’ it, you know everybody had gathered around for the M.O.P. shoot, but at the same time hearing Smoothe like “Yo that’s Smoothe? Word up.” So you know so gettin’ the kinda flavor, so when I came home, it was already in the air like, “Yeah, yo, I heard your shit son, shit crazy. Boom, Boom.” So that was like the battery I needed to actually keep goin’. So me and DR actually started working together and then decided to press up “Hustlin'” which was the you know “My everyday lifestyle ain’t nothin’ but a hustler” and ran with it. Took it to the colleges, and was like “Yo, if y’all love it, play it, and if you don’t like it throw the shit in the trash.” We just started gettin’ good responses, you know, gettin’ called out to do homecomings and shit. So it was cool.

PF: Yeah, speakin’ of that “Hustlin'” 12″ a lot of people really remember you from “Broken Langauge.”

Smoothe Da Hustler: Right, Right.

PF: What was it like when you recorded that track… how did umm…

Smoothe Da Hustler: The vibe?

PF: Yeah.

Smoothe Da Hustler: I’ma set the tone right now for you. Aiight, I got the track, I brought it home. So we zonin’ to it, we playin’ cards, we got the music blastin’, we got the track blastin’ just playin’ cards in the living room. And on some freestyle shit just buggin’ out with it. Trig did maybe like three-four lines of it, and I came behind him and it just sound good like just to keep goin’ on and on. So we just wrote the joint like on some back and forth shit. He like aiight you know, you go in, do like eight-ten whatever whatever, and then I come cut you off and then you cut me. Boom, that’s what it was. So we went and laid the shit, and it came out like… Exactly how you heard it that’s how we went in there and did it. So it was good, but it was funny cuz the labels was like “Nah.” Like every label. Like I was up at Def Jam, like uhh Capitol at the time, like honestly I was at a lot of them labels. And they was like, “Nah, Smoothe Da Hustler? Nawimsayin, you talkin’ about hustlin?” And then “Broken Language” was like “Nah, where you goin’. We can’t play this on radio, it ain’t no hook.” And I’m like “Nah, nah, this shit gotta work.” And I proved them all wrong, so you know that was self-satisfaction. It ended up being my biggest hit, and being all over the radio, hard as it was, so you know that was a nice little turnaround for hip hop as well. We don’t get a lot of credit for a lot of shit, but you know I ended up I wrote for Public Enemy, I wrote for Foxy Brown, like I said there it go again, self-satisfaction, you know. So you know the fans, they helped me get… the true fans they helped dictate “Real.” So you know I just have to be persistant, putting out records, being independent, and that’s what I’m focusing on.

PF: Was there ever any tension between you guys and M.O.P.? Supposedly there is some mid-nineties interview where they kinda fronted on you guys.

Smoothe Da Hustler: Well, let me put it like this. It wasn’t no real front, cuz they from down the block, ya know what I’m sayin’. It wasn’t no beef shit, none of that shit, it didn’t go that far. Cuz they know we pop off, aight, we know they pop off. We actually even toured together, us and M.O.P., at the time of that little, supposed to be, little chaos. It was just somethin’ said that we had heard in one of they songs that they was supposed to be releasing. Well, actually that did get released, they said something about “Niggas language is broken, the label need to stop the shit they promotin’.” Some shit like that. (Actual line from “World Famous” is “I’m outspoken, niggas language is broken / Record labels need to stop that wack shit they promotin'”). I took it like “Wow, dude y’all niggas just saw me like the other day,” said what’s up? Slapped me a five. On some, you know, yeah, yeah. It’s just crazy cuz Lil’ Fame aka Slap was my DJ back in the day, he used to come DJ for certain shows and shit I used to do. I mean that wasn’t no big thing, but I had to address it, so I addressed it on “Murdafest.” And long story short, we went on tour and they went on before I did. And they performed that song, but when it was time to spit that rhyme, they didn’t say it. When they got to that part, the whole four bars was blank. They was just standing on stage, like not even sayin’ the words. I was like OK, I ain’t even gonna take it there. So when it was my turn to go up on stage, you know I played fair. I actually was gonna go in, but then I was like nah, and I had my DJ cut it up through that part. You know, it was like we just left it alone. You know, really I ain’t one of them beef kinda niggas like. They from around the way. It’s like the music shit I do it from the heart so I put like all my day-to-day shit in my music and like all my feelings and emotions and all, like that’s how I channel my therapy. So to speak on something, I’ma speak on the real of it, and if I got problems on any kind of way, and if I feel like addressin’ it, I’ma address it. But that ain’t gonna be the first time you hear it from me, that’d probably be the second or third time. You know if I gotta problem with you before you hear it. So I’m one of those kinda cats, ya nahimsayin? So I took that like it was nothin’. But it was fun though, it was fun. I wish it could’ve been somebody who I really didn’t like. But I’m an MOP fan, and I’m from around the way, so how could you not like MOP?

PF: What producers are you working with currently?

Smoothe Da Hustler: I got a couple from some cats down in Virginia, one with Bink dog, One Shot Deal, Crummy Beats, D/R (Period) did two, I got some no-name producers that’s crazy hot though, I can’t even front, they crazy hot and they gonna get they just due, it’s just timin’ for them. But you know on the political side I wasn’t really caught up in the names, I was just diggin’ for some shit that really feels like me. But it took a minute though, cuz a lot of these cats they’re playin’ with what’s goin’ on. The young generation, they follow what’s goin’ on, it’s a few creative guys, but you know a majority will follow what’s goin’ on and make tracks like what’s goin’ on now, knowin’ they could do somethin’ new, but just tryin’ to stay up with the times. Which, you can’t blame them, but in the same sense I be tellin’ ’em like “Yo, just go all out duke.” You know, I’m one of those cats that the shit gotta make my face just frown up. It gotta be like tinglin’ in my back for me to be like “Yeah, that’s the one, that’s it!” So you know, it took awhile to get that. You know I was kinda used to D/R’s sound, he knew my sound. A few other cats knew my sound, umm… Tunehead, they got some joints, they did the “Hey Ma” shit, they did umm.. a few joints, they did a few joints. But you know I ain’t a name-thrower, but you know the album is gutter, gutter. You know 50 Cent’s shit, niggas sayin’ 50 Cent’s shit’s gutter, it’s gutter, you know he gettin’ money, but it’s happy.

PF: So are you guys still workin’ with Ice-T or was that just for that one project?

Smoothe Da Hustler: Yeah, we’re doin’ a second album actually called Extortion, which we’ll be kinda spearheading the project, just as far as tracks and direction of the songs. Ice is a friend of our’s, he been our homey for about ten years, nine years something like that. And you know he’s doin’ his Law & Order shit, and doin’ some directing, so he did it all already. I mean there’s no real, real need for him to really rap, he does it cuz he can. But you know he will be appearing on it, soundin’ like a new fresher, fresher Ice, so you know, the nigga’s nasty. You know, I can’t even front I wasn’t an Ice-T fan back in the day, I loved his swagger, but I wasn’t an Ice-T fan. I liked particular songs of his. But, gettin’ to know him and really listening to his joints, I’m like “Damn, this nigga had some shit!” Like no wonder this nigga eight, nine albums went gold and shit. Like cuz he really was talkin’ some shit. So I’m just gettin’ up on all that old Ice-T shit, I’m just gettin’ on that. So like I’ma crazy fan nahmean. And there is another album coming.

PF: Do you ever feel like cats kind of ran with your Hustlin’ Rap direction and kind of blew up off your ideas?

Smoothe Da Hustler: Yeah well, yeah, of course, of course, but umm it became so redundant now. Like it was cool Jay-Z did it, I saw him on our come-up and you know, I saw they had nice shit, they was gettin’ money. So you know, for him to talk about it, I can’t… Well for anybody to talk about it I really can’t knock it, but at the same time, yeah give just due. Niggas gotta give just due. Like Smoothe was the first cat talkin’ that hustlin’ shit. That’s word. That’s actually out there on some I’m a hustler blah, blah, blah, blah and so what? So, yeah, once in awhile shit gets on my nerves. Like you know hey, what can you do. It was an image to run with and you know niggas was just runnin’ with it man. But that’s what kills the game. If everybody’s a hustler, like, where the customers at?

PF: Yeah where are the ordinary Joes too?

Smoothe Da Hustler: Yeah, yeah exactly. Exactly, I say a customer, but it’s just a figure of speech, cuz you know if everybody’s sellin’ who you sellin’ to? Like where the buyers at?PF: Is there any chance of bringing back the Next Level chick?Smoothe Da Hustler: Next Level, shoot, Next Level consisted of a lot of cats that went their seperate ways. As far as Khrist (DV Alias), myself, and Trig, umm.. Rafeek, we kinda build, we all build. And still do songs together and shit. D/R he’s my man, and we build as well, but you know I think everybody is great seperate. They got their own hopes and dreams and focuses and shit, which is all good. So you know, as men, if you can agree that you can’t work together on certain shit, then it’s cool. I mean you know who knows, who knows. But as far as right now it’s SMG, it’s been SMG since day one. Like if you listen to anything on my records I’m sayin’ Next Level, SMG like always so that’s what it is.

PF: Yeah but wasn’t there a chick down with y’all back in the day, what happened to her?

Smoothe Da Hustler: We had a few chicks in the group, right now we got this girl Nina Blue, she always been down, but she’s just been developing her craft. She’s like a female Common, she’s dope. So we been with her, but yeah yeah we had some that came and went. You know it’s about patience man. We ain’t got two-three hundred thousand to just put into music and compete with the big boys. So you gotta take what you can afford and you make it work. And you take that and you make it work some more, and you make it work some more so… I mean that’s the plan. Right now we feel we’re pretty much ready, I mean we got the video guys in place. So we’ve been shootin’ videos, the videos are lookin’ real good, they don’t look they some real home bullshit. So we gonna see where we can go. We’re gonna hope that the music and the shows create the hype again, for those that don’t know us. And for the ones that do, they’re gonna love us, cuz it’s back to the drawing board with the same shit that got ’em hooked the first time.

PF: Any shout-outs you wanna give?

Smoothe Da Hustler: Well you know I want to thank you for givin’ the interest to find out what we’re up to. We’re alive and well. Bless my son’s mother, she passed away a few years ago. You know I became a single father. Big-up to the single fathers out there, big-up to all the fans that’ve supported me and Trig umm.. throughout the whole career. In cyphers and all that stickin’ up for us like yeah my man Smooth get’s busy, yeah my man Trigga Tha Gambler get busy, big up to y’all. And be on the lookout for the new album, American Hustler, (Trig’s) First Time Around, Second Time Coming, my cousin Face, he’ll be droppin’ some singles soon. Like we’re focusin’ on him, so we got like a lot of stuff in the works. Be on the lookout, smoothedahustler.com, it’ll be up soon, well it’s up now, but we gotta cartoon in the works, called Big Wheelz, with all of the pioneers of rap guest appearing. So be on the lookout for that, and check me on Myspace.

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