Where Are They Now?: Smoothe Da Hustler

With the release of the hardcore classic Once Upon a Time in America, Smoothe Da Hustler took hardcore Hip-Hop repped with Brooklyn sensibility to another level. With the success of “Broken Language,” Smoothe, and his brother Trigga the Gambler, seemed poised to become the superstars they wanted to be. But sometimes what we want is not what fate has planned. After label troubles and family issues, Smoothe found himself at a crossroads that would put his chase for mainstream success on hold. After taking a few years to get his house in order Smoothe Da Hustler has a few things to get off his chest as he continues on his path to greatness. With the release his new independent album, Violenttimes Day, fans are sure to get an earful of that hardcore they’ve been waiting for. AllHipHop.com: What was it that made you want to be a part of Hip-Hop?Smoothe: I started listening to s**t my father was bringing in into the crib. Soul Sonic Force, Melle Me and all them cats. There was this Allstar networking s**t going on. Like they was going into the neighborhoods getting n****s for these shows. I had a few n****s I was f***ing with back in the day called I.B.M. These n****s was dancing, doing all kinds of flips and s**t. Then we did a group called Guess Riders. We entered into the Allstar talent thing and kept winning first place. First place all the way up to the nationals. When we were at the nationals doing our routine I jumped out of a flip and grabbed the mic and did a freestyle about Guess. We were the Guess Riders so we wore a bunch of Guess s**t all the time. So I grabbed the mic and start busting and we ended up winning first place in the dance competition and in the rap competition. I was always rapping on some hallway, hangout s**t but that was my first real crowd performance. They were loving the s**t so from that point on it was like I’d found a new love. It wasn’t serious though because at the time I had so much other s**t going on. But that was my intro to the game as far as me finding something I could do that I liked. Plus hearing the response to certain s**t I was saying, the reaction from the crowd was crazy. That was my momentum.AllHipHop.com: So you quit dancing and started recording?Smoothe: This cat you might know of, DR Period had a studio in our area. I used to stop by his crib every once in a while just to see the n****a. I’d come through and spit about just s**t I’d be seeing or going through on the street. He was always like, “Yo, you dope. You need to put that real life s**t on a beat or something.” So every once in a while I would stop through but son was always doing something. Then I got into a little trouble and he said, “Before you go in come through and lay a few joints and I’ll jazz the s**t up.” When I came back home I had a little buzz already. [Smoothe the Hustler "Bklyn, I'm From NY"]AllHipHop.com: One of the songs you’re best known for is “Broken Language”. How did that record come about?Smoothe: We would freestyle like that around our way. Well, I can’t say we but me and Trig used to freestyle like that in the hallways. DV Alias Khryst is our right hand man. He was like our MPC. This n***a would bang out a beat on the walls and we’d just go at it for hours in the hallway. We did it on some more “I can out do you” type s**t. When we got the track it wasn’t even thought of at the time. We were trying to figure out what to do with it. So I took it back to the lab and me and Trig started freestyling to each other. After we sat down and we heard it then we were like, “Okay, this is where it’s at.” It wasn’t how dudes do today with the, “Oh, I’m going to plan to do it this way.” It was on some let’s try this new style and see how it feels. And the s**t worked!

"By the time I got back to New York I had the buzz. I mean we were drug dealers at the time so we already had the rapper look."

AllHipHop.com: That song was different from everything out at the time. Was it hard trying to get people to stand behind it?Smoothe: We pressed up a single called “Hustlin’”. We been talking about hustling for years. Early in the game like ’92 or ’93. At that time the labels were like, “Nah, I don’t really know where this can go. Oh, and change your name. Smoothe Da Hustler isn’t going to work.” I was like, I’m not changing my name. I already had an album done. But all the labels at the time were basically on the same s**t. And, matter of fact, “Broken Language”, was the B-side. All the labels was sh**ting on “Hustlin’” and “Broken Language” like, “I don’t know what we’ll be able to do with that. There’s no hook, you guys are talking about some of the worst things in the world. Where are you getting signed with this?” But we was like the streets is going to love this s**t. But they were still like no. So we pressed up a bunch of [records]. We went down south and ran through the college network. We were like if you like it, bump it. By the time I got back to New York I had the buzz. I mean we were drug dealers at the time so we already had the rapper look. By the time we got back up n****s was calling like, “How much these n****s charging for a homecoming?” I didn’t know what the f**k to charge. So I started charging like $2,500 to $4,500. As the momentum grew the labels started hollering. They would holla but they still wanted to change a n***a. The only n****s who was trying to let us do what we do is Profile. They had Run-DMC, Special-Ed and a couple other people. They were like, “Stay yourself. Do what you do and we’ll stand behind you.” So it was a small label but with major distribution. They just took the momentum form my independent run and blew it up.AllHipHop.com: Method Man and Redman recently redid the “Broken Language” track. How do you feel about it?Smoothe: I just came out a studio this morning. I’m standing at the bodega waiting for the dude to hand me my backwoods and a dude pull up in a car like “Oh shit, Smoothe Da Hustler, what’s good.” So I hear something in the background and son is like “Yo, Meth and Redman just did your joint son. That s**t is crazy son. All the other n****s who tried to do this s**t sound wack but these n****s is going in.” So I’m like aight let me hear that s**t. The s**t is good. I really like it but they got to watch out for the “08 Broken Language” me and Trig got. It’s going to go over n****s heads just like the first one did. I didn’t put that on the album because I’m doing it independent. It’s a slow grind and it’s all my money so I don’t want to risk potentially missing the masses. But watch, come back five years later and n****s will be taking that style. AllHipHop.com: When people speak about hardcore Hip-Hop do you feel your name isn’t mentioned enough?Smoothe: That’s one of the biggest gripes I have with Hip-Hop man. Well, really the industry. I’m a humble dude and really don’t like to toot my own horn but certain s**t, hands down, the game needs to call it. From “Broken Language”, to the doors I opened, to the talking the hustling s**t. Me and Trig was some of the first cats talking that. We was some of the best when it comes to doing that back and forth s**t. We don’t get no love. The streets solidified it. The streets remind me of that everyday. N****s come up to me in the street like, “Yo, I respect your s**t.” That’s the fuel for my flame. Or when Rakim or KRS-One or one of them n****s big me up, that’s love right there. People base their career on money but you can’t put a price tag on some of the accomplishments I’ve made. Well you probably could, but why? The streets solidify it but the game is just f**ked. They’ll play the old hardcore videos and I’m like where the f**k is me and Trig’s s**t? Was our s**t that hard that n****s can’t pay respect where respect is due? No disrespect to anybody but let me get my little bit. Especially when you’re talking hardcore or gangster rap or Brooklyn, especially Brooklyn. Come on man, Smoothe and Trig ain’t mentioned in nothing when you talking about Brooklyn? We rep that hard.[Smoothe Da Hustler f/ Trigger the Gambler "Broken Language"]AllHipHop.com: You’ve kept busy over the years ghostwriting as well as recording. What are some of the projects you were involved in?Smoothe: Early on I did most of Foxy’s album. I got history with all these people. I did joints for Public Enemy, the He Got Game soundtrack. That’s a big up for me. I was just with Rhymefest working on a joint for the Detox album. Us and Dangerous LLC, [Chris] Styles and them. We were sketching something up for the Detox album. Not sure if it’s going to make the final cut but we were working on that. I’m working on this “Big Wheels” cartoon with a few of the Hip-Hop pioneers. Melle Mel, Ice-T, Roxanne Shante, it’s just a little Hip-Hop 101. It focuses around me and Trig going to school but it includes a little of the history in it too. Just a little something I’m doing outside the rap thing. Me and DR Period worked on this album. I’m trying to finish up another album right after this one. Just trying to get a few things cracking again. I’m so stuck on being an independent artist. The opportunities are out there. It’s just a matter of me getting the right one. But I’m good right now. I could be better, I could use a couple or 300 million [laughs]. Yo, 50 what’s cracking, what’s good man? I’m with shouting out my own s**t. I’m not down with joining a team and shouting somebody else’s s**t. That’s been my thing since day one, control. I got to have control over my shit. But 50 need to get at me. Jay, Jay knows me. We got history. And I’m talking to Jay-Z when I say that. Just putting it out there, we got history. My rep is solidified in the street. A n***a can’t pull my card on no level. N****s need to get at me. I’m on some real, Brooklyn s**t. Get at a real Brooklyn n***a with some of that Nets money.AllHipHop.com: A career in Hip-hop can lead to a lot of ups and downs in your personal life. How has it been for you balancing being a parent and maintaining you career? Smoothe: It’s only by the blessings of God. A lot of people may not believe it but I do go to church once in a while. Big my church up, House of the Lord and Reverend Daughtry. He’s a strong Pastor and people need to come check him out. But my family life and my personal life is the keys to my music. After Profile sold to Arista I was stuck up there at Arista. They ain’t know what to do with a n***a. I brought an album to them and they were like “No, you’re too hard. Maybe you can f**k with Puffy or something.” So that situation cancelled itself out. After that I was ripping and running and my son’s moms, God bless her, she died of a brain aneurysm. She was in the house and passed out in front of my son and her daughter. I had to get custody of my son and put the rap s**t on hold for a minute. I had to be a consistent father in a household. Not just being around, being a daddy. I had to physically be around to meet and greet [my son] when he comes home from school, go to parent teacher nights and all that. I had to let him know daddy got you. I always kept my ear to the game but I couldn’t lose my son to the streets. He’s 15 right now and go through his little bulls**t. He’s growing into a young man and even though I give it to him raw, he still needs to grow and experience s**t for himself. I’m putting it out there. This is on my CD and everything. I’m letting you know what I been going through. My daughter’s moms, I been taking care of her and my daughter since forever. On some real corny s**t, she went and did the child support s**t. They had papers going to the wrong address then I get stopped by the police with a bad license. I’m talking real s**t. No shiny fairytale rapper life. If I didn’t give a f**k about my kids I’d probably been on TV with the big crib and the Bentley and all that. But I did what I had to do. I got custody of both my kids. My daughter’s 16 and my son’s 15 and both of them are in school right now. The situation changed me a lot. I mean it was a f**ked up situation but it got me closer to my son and daughter. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

I ain’t trying to lose my kids to the streets. That’s not what it’s about.

AllHipHop.com: That’s admirable considering most people would have maybe given the kid to a relative or something.Smoothe: She had sisters. They wanted to get my son. They live down south so they hadn’t seen him in a while. They were more than excited to take him. And I had a few situations on the table. It was on some distribution s**t but, I had a few situations at the time. But I really couldn’t entertain none of that. I ain’t trying to lose my kids to the streets. That’s not what it’s about. I talk about the streets. I’m a hypocrite every once in a while but, there’s certain spots where you got to draw the line. AllHipHop.com: What’s good with you as an artist? Can fans expect anything from you and Trigga Da Gambler soon?Smoothe: I’m re-releasing the Violenttimes Day album. When I first put it out it was only on digital download. It’s funny because I always come up with these catchy names for s**t. When I was doing the album and was going to call it American Hustler but soon as I said that, American Gangster came out. I wanted to do this album, the Violenttimes Day, like two years ago but, 50 came out with the Valentine’s Day Massacre. So I guess great minds think alike. But I’m re-releasing that joint. I’m doing everything myself from my office. You can get that on CDbaby, my page, or the mom and pops. Look out for Trig’s album coming soon. We got an album together coming called Smith Brothers: Dying to Live. I’m still finishing up that album I mentioned earlier with DR Period. It’s all coming through the SMG label and it’ll be distributed by whoever the f**k got enough paper. [Smoothe Da Hustler "Violenttimes Day"]AllHipHop.com: Nowadays do you feel artists stand a better chance going the independent route?Smoothe: At the end of the day it’s about believing in your product. If you can stand by your product you can win. A lot of cats don’t really believe in themselves or the product so they run to the labels for money. I ain’t running to nobody. I’m going to keep doing this with my own money. Even though it’s getting a little tiring and I do want some help, I’m going to keep giving the fans what they want. Right now there’s no middleman you’re getting it directly from me. It’s all me going to the spot, going in, then dishing out the goods...oh yea, tell Cassidy to slow his role up too.AllHipHop.com: You have issues with Cassidy?Smoothe: I addressed it on Violenttimes Day. I keep hearing Cassidy Da Hustler but I know he knows there was a Smoothe Da Hustler before him. It’s no fake in my blood. I’m just putting it out there. Everybody I see always asking “What’s good? Why Cassidy taking your name?” There’s like a million hungry n****s ready to go in over that. And to be fair, that Swizz beat was crazy. Even if you’re a little smalltime, hand-to-hand hustler when that song comes on you feel like you’re a hustler. So I’m not knocking him. The bottom line is it’s just the streets. I live by those codes. I don’t f**k with the industry codes. I’m a realist. I give respect where it’s due. He get’s busy. Cassidy is nice. He’s dope and all that but I’m Smoothe Da Hustler and that’s where it stops.