SD: I don’t think you can make “what New York feels like” into a sound. I think you just gotta embody that. Like me and Pete embody New York city. There’s a lot of music [out] here and there are a lot of people from New York who make different types of music, which isn’t a bad thing because people are inspired by different ages of hip-hop, y’know? I’m an older guy. I am 32, so I come from the era of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Biggie Smalls, Jay Z, DMX, The LOX and Wu-Tang.
That’s what I care to carry [on]. Those are the guys that I watched at the forefront, so it is easy for me to embody that because I actually still live in New York. I still run around and do everything I do in New York, but I travel the world so I’m taking my experiences from New York [around the globe]. I’m not just giving it to New York because this ain’t just for New York. This is for the world. I want the world to know what New York sounds like.
You can’t tell them what it sounds like… you gotta give it to them. I think after they hear Don’ Smoke Rock it’ll be like, ‘Well, this is what New York sounds like [and] this is what we need to keep up with.’
OKP: You have a pretty impressive list of features on this album. Can you kind of explain why chose the rappers you did for the particular songs?
SD: I respect every artist that is on this album. We have relationships with all these people, so it really wasn’t something that was like farfetched. It was just basically putting together the best body of work with who we felt could rap on these records. And, as you see, there aren’t too many New York people on the album. We just wanted to make [Don’t Smoke Rock] a great project.
It didn’t really matter where you were from—you just had to be able to rap. It was about rappers. This is a rapper’s album. If you’re looking for singles and all that type of shit then this ain’t it. This is the shit that you’ll listen to when you wanna think or when you wanna vibe. When you gotta good little car ride or whatever and you need a soundtrack—this is what Don’t Smoke Rock is. This is a moment.
This ain’t something that can be un-organically created. This is that real shit.
PR: I feel the same. [Don’t Smoke Rock] is the kind of album that you can just vibe out to from A-to-Z. It is one of those things where on a nice day, you can pop it in and feel good about yourself listening to it.
OKP: What do you want fans to get out of this project? What’s the takeaway?
SD: That lyrics still matter…
PR: …and beats still matter.
SD: That you don’t really gotta force shit down people’s throats for them to understand it…
PR: The big takeaway is knowledge. Lyrics. People saying something actually. Something that my child can learn from even if there’s cursing. Because eventually your child’s gonna grow up and curse anyway. We all do it here and there. But, y’know, something that people can understand lyrically and musically. Don’t Smoke Rock is just about making something that’s good for your soul. Something that makes you feel nice and warm.
Don’t Smoke Rock is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon and other digital marketplaces. If you want to get a taste before copping, please press play on the album’s stream below. Also, don’t forget to read parts one and two of our interviews with these two New York giants here and here.
Layne Weiss is a Los Angeles-based author whose work has appeared in a number of publications including LA Weekly, Paper Mag, Wax Poetics and Mass Appeal. You can follow her (and us!) latest and greatest on Twitter @lawflylikepaper.
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