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Smoke DZA

Smoke DZA

Interviewed by
Martyn Pepperell
Monday 12th November, 2012 8:22AM

Hailing from Harlem, NYC, Smoke DZA (aka Sean Pompey) is one of the most promising hip-hop artists of his generation. Dubbed “The Kush God” by his peers, Smoke DZA has a borderline nerdesque interest in Marijuana and brands associated with that most storied of recreational herbs.

Since going solo in 2008, his weed smoke fogged out verses and choruses have gone panoramic, expanding his lyrical frame into what he describes as lifestyle rap, his own personal version of high end fashion. Over the last two years he has released six mixtapes and albums, along the way collaborating with young rap royalty like Big K.R.I.T, A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson, Harry Fraud, Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa, and touring with old school legends such as Juicy J and Method Man.

On the verge of two debut New Zealand performances in Auckland and Wellington, I caught up with Smoke DZA on the telephone from Perth. Impressively candid, friendly and astute, he was a lot of fun to talk to.

Hi, how are you?

I’m great man. I’m just sitting here with my buddy in Perth, smoking pot out the window of The Hyatt, living life.

Lovely! Is this your first time in the southern hemisphere?

Yes, it’s my first time; I’m loving it. I mean, it kind of caught me off guard, because I’m like eleven hours behind from my life in New York, but I’m loving the sun. You know, it’s snowing and it’s cold back home and it’s hot and sunny over here; and I’m looking at trees and shit! You know? It’s a good time. I’m loving it so far.

Okay, getting into this interview thing, how would you describe your philosophy towards being a rapper?

Well, my philosophy towards being a rapper? It’s just another way for me to be creative. It’s another way for me to connect with people like myself. I base my whole raps off reality, off my own reality. I call it lifestyle rap. It’s like high end fashion, but its high end rap. It’s everything that I enjoy doing, a lot of experiences I’ve been through or seen, and looking at a lot of things with hindsight, and [the experiences of, and with] my friends and my family. I just like to have fun man. Really, it’s just having fun; you know? Having fun! I like to entertain, keep it real and just do what I do.

You say it is just one way in which you can express yourself creatively? How else are you getting your quote unquote creativity on?

Well yes. I’m actually working on my own line of Rugby’s. I’m into Ralph Lauren. Rugby’s is my favourite brand of Ralph Lauren and they are discontinuing the line, so it is just another lane for me to be creative in. I want to touch more people you know? And keep everybody fly. I want to try and get everybody as fly as me! [Laughs]

So that is the focus? Upgrading people’s flyness levels?

Yeah. I just want to upgrade the world’s fly!

What are some other ways you’d like to upgrade the world’s fly?

Well, you know… I wrote a movie with a friend of mine. It’s called The Bodega. It’s not in production yet, but it is on the verge of being sold. Hell, I write a lot of songs for different artists. I wear many hats man. But right now, I am just focusing on Smoke DZA the rapper, and everything else will just fall into place when it falls into place.

This movie, The Bodega. You know the venue you’re playing at in Wellington, New Zealand is called Bodega right?

I know! Bodega, that is kinda crazy. That’s tight… Right now though, it’s all about Smoke DZA and it’s all about conquering music, you know? It’s all about continuing to tour the world and live life.

What have been some of the big accomplishments for you over the last while?

I’ve put out three albums in stores. From George Kush The Button, to Rolling Stoned, to Rugby Thompson recently under High Times Records. Releasing under High Times is another milestone for me. You know, I got to work with the world’s most famous hot box brand and the record label. I was the first rap artist in some time to put out an album with them. I also won the High Times 2012 Doobie Award for Best Album. Sheesh, there has been a lot going on man. Rugby Thompson hit the Billboards. There has been so much stuff man. I can’t even really just think of one milestone. There have been a lot of milestones. I’ve headlined my own tour. I’ve been on tour with Big K.R.I.T and Curren$y, you know, we started the Smokers Club tour. I been performing on that, we had Method Man and Juicy J, we all been on tour together on that. Hell man, it has been a great ride so far. I can’t complain. Those have been a few of my milestones.

Tell me about the High Times connection? Do you get to go judge any competitions or anything?

I did that! I did it! I judged The Cannibus Cup last July in San Francisco. I also performed at The Cannabis Cup. I’ve done a lot with High Times man.

I guess you’ll be wanting to stop through Colorado when you get back to America?

Oh yeah! Colorado is already one of my favourite places. Now that marijuana is legalized there, it is even more of a hub for me to go back to. I’ll go kick it with my fellas, go smoke some of that kush god bud they got for me out there. I got my own little strand of weed in Colorado. So it should be cool.

Has there been anyone who has reached out to you since this has all been popping that you didn’t expect would?

A lot of people reach out, but no one who really surprises me; yet. But, I’ve had run-ins, like I ran into Young Guru, who is Jay-Z’s engineer, and he told me how much he appreciated my music. He told me my music helped him get through a few days. That was kinda crazy to me. That was one person where I was like, oh wow. I did Hot 97 Summer Jam with Big K.R.I.T on the side stage. I ran into Ralph McDaniels. Ralph McDaniels did Video Music Box. I grew up watching that show. I didn’t know, but he knew who I was. I thought he thought I was someone else. But yeah, Young Guru and Ralph McDaniels, those are the two people who really shocked the shit out of me. I went, oh shit! They know who I am! That is fucking crazy!

Do you have any existing knowledge of New Zealand, or is this just some more gigs on the touring schedule?

This is my first time and I’m actually open to all of it. I haven’t been before and I haven’t heard too much about it because a lot of my friends haven’t been before. This is going to be my trial run for me to go home and tell all of my buddies, yeah, you need to come to New Zealand, you need to go to Perth, you need to go to Sydney, these are the places. I’m the first guy from my set to come do the great voyage. My guys are like, oh shit, you’re fucking in Australia dude! They’re going nuts! Everybody else is also on the road right now, so we’re looking forward to getting some good stories, going back and letting them know.

Smoke DZA plays two New Zealand shows this - see below for details.


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