Smoke Dza-KONY review
Seeing Smoke Dza live is one of my most unforgettable concert experiences. It was a few years ago and he was opening for Curren$y, Fiend and the Jet Life crew. At that time I had him pegged as a weirdo, a NY rapper with a strange southern delivery who never seemed to fit into his songs or anyone else’s. In Massachusetts that night the crowd went nuts when he took stage, my friend and I looked at each other with complete confusion. Do they know this guy isn’t that good?
A strange thing happened: He took the mic off its stand and held it a few inches from his face, stuck out his chest and blasted out every bar of every song like he was the greatest rapper to ever live. The look on his face told everyone “I’m better than Jay-Z” with absolute certainty and the crowd was with him 100%. Since that concert he’s dropped two great albums (Rolling Stoned and Rugby Thompson) and a superb mixtape in K.O.N.Y.
I always explain Dza as the rap games Earnie Shavers; Shavers was a heavyweight puncher not really a boxer. He held back each fist and loaded it with all his earthly strength before he threw it. Sometimes opponents like Larry Holmes would jab him into oblivion but sometimes he landed and when he did everyone went down: Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, even Muhammad Ali. To this day if you ask Ali who hit him the hardest don’t be surprised if he says Shavers. He always has.
So when Dza says a line like “Movie sh#t go and get your goobers, You respect the victim I respect the shooters.(Butta Rice)” it doesn’t read like poetry but when you hear him spit it you can feel the uncommon emphasis on the line. He says it like it’s an absolute gem. It’s how he delivers every line and it never enters the cartoonish MOP zone.
The delivery, the confidence is only the first element of K.O.N.Y. When 2012 ends KONY will be my pick for the best produced mixtape. You can just look at the names on the production list and know what you are in for. Multiple Ski Beatz and Lee Bannon beats, and a touch of Harry Fraud. This is a mixtape that is best downloaded and played loudly in your vehicle. It rattles and tests the extent of whatever device you listen to it on. It pops and crackles on your headphones. I’m not just talking about Harry Fraud’s ear-smashing Butta Rice but the audio assault of Lee Bannon’s Fish Tank. Throughout the mixtape, the crying baby sample from Timbaland and Aaliyah’s“Are you that Somebody?” reappears behind crushing baselines and sludged new NY Boom. It’s the perfect backdrop for Dza who ceaselessly swings for power.
Its been a great year for NY hip hop and while Dza feels like he’s taking the reigns he implies a very interesting race “In NY the only other big N*#* running sh#t is my brother from Flushing.(Butta Rice)” If your familiar with Action Bronson you know this line is a reference to him and you can feel the narrative change. It was only a year and a half ago when we heard nothing but“who is going to bring NY back?” now the new talented group at the forefront is fighting for dominance of it.
Dza makes several references to distancing himself from pure weed raps. On the song “Weed Raps” the chorus is dryly delivered and the song feels like a goodbye to the weed song so many expect from Dza. He states it later “Family with gangsters, broke bread with the lifers F#ck talking bout weed instead I’m just getting higher (Fish tank).” By spitting as if he’s the best, he’s slowly moved upward.
If you’re unconvinced that confidence can make you better in rap than just listen to the featured tracks. Dza invites the very best lyricists he can find: Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul as well as hungry up and comers like Nymlo and Al-Doe. On some of the tracks you may come to the conclusion that Dza got killed (I didn’t) but you will never hear that in his voice. He’s always the man.
He’s got a horribly annoying ad-lib that has made my wife hate when the word right is said by itself. It doesn’t matter. In his own words “Love and hate is the same sh#t you gotta worry about a N#$%& when he’s indifferent (Best Seller).” Its hard to disagree with him when people like Saigon, Reks, Papoose, etc, etc, are all suffering indifference no matter what they do. Whether you hate Dza or you are in that crowd screaming your head off, he exists for more people now than he ever has before. That didn’t happen by accident, it was hard work. So when he claims K.O.N.Y. I don’t ask myself how dare he. For someone who has followed his story, I understand exactly why.
Stream or download K.O.N.Y. below(than play it in your car)