Don’t Smoke Rock, the new album from Smoke DZA and Pete Rock, embodies the spirit of old Harlem, that pre-gentrified Harlem. Featuring guest appearances from artists such as Cam’ron, Dave East, Royce Da 5’9″, Rick Ross and others — Don’t Smoke Rock also reintroduces the world to PR’s voice as they may not be familiar with the Soul Brother #1’s mic skills.
“It’s a vibe. It’s a painting. It’s a moment,” Smoke DZA says of the recently released project. “Something that comes around once in a while.” The album personifies New York’s gritty hip-hop and soul by bringing together two artists who have an everlasting mutual adulation for one another.
Okayplayer talked with Pete Rock and Smoke DZA about Don’t Smoke Rock, out today (December 2nd) on Babygrande Records.
Okayplayer: Pete, why was now the time to reintroduce your voice and to return to rapping?
Pete Rock: I don’t know… I just feel like we wanna give it to the fans that miss it. No real issue with it [rapping], but we just wanna give back what’s been missing. What we feel should be in the mix of the new stuff and amongst the younger generation.
OKP: DZA, how did working with Pete Rock inspire you on Don’t Smoke Rock…?
Smoke DZA: Well, shit… Pete Rock, man. He’s top five greatest producers of all time.
PR: Thank you, sir.
SD: That’s inspirational within itself… So, just being able to prove myself to Pete was just — it was better than proving myself to any hip-hop fan. No disrespect to the hip-hop fans, but this is Pete Rock.
OKP: Pete, same question… How has working with Smoke DZA inspired you?
PR: He didn’t really have to prove himself to me because he was already buzzing on the streets and I was hearing his name out there. I just never got a chance to listen to his music. And one day I did and then we had a friendship for a while through someone I was working with. We had met and became really cool. And, y’know, it is easy when you can rap. For me, it’s like if you can rhyme, you can be my friend.
OKP: How did you guys meet?