Boston, Massachusetts has been better known more for their sports teams and New Edition than rappers over the years. But Smoke Bulga, a, cocky 22 year old Beantown native, has plans to grab more respect for the unduly looked over city only 200 some odd miles North of New York City. About a year ago he and his crew released an independent project whose substantial regional success peeked the interest of major labels and shortly landed Smoke a deal with Epic Records. With his rowdy single Smoke Did It getting rotation he is set to drop his debut Smoked Out in July. Possessing the confidence necessary to make a dent in a hip-hop edifice notorious for breaking the wills of new jacks, while the smoke was clear he made time for a chit-chat with AllHipHop.com.
AllHipHop.com: What made you start rhyming?
Smoke Bulga: Some kids was coming to school with demo tapes. I listened to them and I felt like I could do it too, so I went home and I tried that shit. When I came back to school the next day, they aint believe that was my sh*t. So right there I felt like I had something. The attention I like it, so I just ran with it after that ya know?
AllHipHop: What grade was that?
SB: That was the 8th grade. A long ass time ago.
AllHipHop: You had never rhymed before?
SB: I dibbled and dabbled with it but I aint really go hard, like try to write 16 (bars), a verse. That was the first time that I wrote a verse.
AllHipHop: Where did you go to school?
I went to school in Roxbury, South End in Boston.
SB: Coming up in Boston who are some of the musicians or rappers you looked to as inspiration?
Really, I just looked to my peers that was around me. Cause was was doing a lot of things. I just found out George Clinton is from Boston man, thats big for me to know. I always loved their music so it doesnt just pertain to rap.
AllHipHop: When you say your peers you mean the people in your crew?
SB: Yeah, because Im also in a group called Fast Life. My other crew is Rushya. Last hear, we put together a compilation album independently in Boston that charted on the Billboard Top 100 Hip-Hop and R&B chart two weeks in a row. Right there the labels started looking at us.
AllHipHop: What number did you get up to on Billboard?
SB: It was #68 and I think #72 the following week. For what we was doing, we just sold it out our hood, so that was special to us.
AllHipHop: Labels must have started hunting you down huh?
SB: Yeah. We wasnt stopping there man. We had decided ok that out of Rushya and Fast Life, we know that its almost impossible to get groups that consist of four members apiece in the door at the same time. So we need somebody to grab the torch (first). That was me. We decided that we going to all run with me first, everyones going to get behind me. And once I bust the door open like Scarface, everybody else just all run in. Ya feel me?
AllHipHop: Who are the members of Rushya & Fast Life?
SB: You got my man Miguel Bang and Robert Wrath. You ever seen Assassins with Sylvester Stallone and the other cat, Banderas? Thats where they got their names from. And then its Black and Serge.
Then Im in the group Fast Life. Fast Life is me Smoke Bulga, my younger brother Rock Dukati. Then you got A1 and then you got Left Lane and Nikko Brown. The compilation album was hot, you might have like 2 songs from us first, then 2 songs from Rushya, then a song together. Nobody else did it like that before. It was like an original thing that we came up with. We all from Roxbury, some from Dorchester. South End too.
AllHipHop: Why were you chosen as the first artist?
SB: Everyone considered me the hottest one. The songs that I did on the compilation, people was checking for. Everybody was feeling them.
AllHipHop: Are these all people you started with 10 years ago?
SB: Nah, I was already in a group called Fast Life. It was funny how I met Rushya man. It was on some street shit, niggas talking shit on the block. Like my cousin and one of they, my man Hasesh (my bad, hes in Rushya too but hes incarcerated in Atlanta right now) . Ya know how niggas be battlin in the hood like Fuck it, I feel like my nigga will rip your nigga Ill put up anything for it! Rushya and Fast Life, we was both making noise at the same time. We just did it like Pablo Escobar did. Fuck it, we gonna lock down the game. We gonna all get together and just do it for real. Ya smell me?
AllHipHop: How long after you started rhyming did you start seriously pursuing rapping as a career?
SB: Fam, I was just grinding man. I got a lot of opportunities from cats in my hood. I did some ghostwriting for New Edition cats like Ronnie Devoe. I was like 15 years old. I worked with Michael Bivins a couple of times. Right then and there I knew that thats what I wanted to do. But all the shit that was going on in my life at the time didnt allow me to go full force with the rhyme like I wanted to. I aint take it that serious man and got caught up with all the shit on the streets.
AllHipHop: So what made you get serious?
SB: When I did the compilation album that really made me get serious. When I seen how many units we sold in our hood. That peoples was respecting our music. That made me be like, Okay we got something here. Im just ready to take it to the next plateau for my hood.
AllHipHop: Where yall looking for a deal?
SB: We put it out there just to see what happens. Epic was one one of the first labels that hollad at us. It just felt really good at the time. Nothing was really popping on the rap thing over here. We aint nobodies branch off they tree. We wanted to start from the bottom up just like we been doing. You got Boston, you got Epic. Boston not really that established on the rap tip. So we trying to blow both up at the same time. I know its hard but Im willing to take on the task. I feel like this is what I was born to do fam?
AllHipHop: Being from Boston, people are bound to ask you if you got any association with Benzino?
SB: Nah, me and Benzino we cool. I respect Benzino as a man first and I respect him as an artist. Hes real, he keep it real with me so we cool.
AllHipHop: Are there any Boston rappers you grew up listening to?
SB: I used to listen some of the RSO stuff. I liked Gang Starr, Ed OG. I like all the cats in the hood that was making noise. I feel like its time for Boston rappers to come out that cocoon. We able to spread our wings now. Yeah Im from Boston and Im proud to be able to say thats where Im from.
AllHipHop: What can people expect to hear?
The boy is going hard with production from R Kelly
AllHipHop: Word? Even established acts cant get R. Kelly, how did you?
SB: It was a label thing man. They came to me. I Just came in and do what I do. It was a beautiful thing. I felt it was a golden opportunity for me man. I felt like Jordan passed me the ball in a playoff game and it was up to me to hit the shot or not. I felt like I hit the shot. We working on getting something from The Heatmakers. Mass Pike, hes the producer for Rushya and Fast Life. He did Smoke Did It.
AllHipHop: How did u get your name?
SB: Older cats from around my hood, they started calling me Smoke. I like the name because smoke rises to the top dog and thats where I feel that Im headed. So it just stuck with me over the years. It started because I was dark skin. A lot of people say its grey (smoke) but its really black. It was just a name that stuck with a nigga over the years.
AllHipHop: A year later what are you expecting?
SB: Multiple platinum man. Smoke to the top baby. Im trying to get the whole world smoked out off of Smoke man. Thats why I named my album Smoke Out. When they hear my album they gonna know that it aint games cause I recorded Smoke Did It almost two years ago now. I did the video last year all on my own. Me and my niggas A10 Entertainment. That helped us get our deal too. We shot our own video for Smoke Did It without any major backing. We did it all ourself and that shit came out hot. 35mm film, its hot! We shot that right in the middle of our hood, thats our block.
Them is all our cars, all our bitches, thats us.