With a recent string of critically-acclaimed releases and sold-out national tours, Harlem emcee Smoke DZA has come a long way from cyphers in the streets of his childhood stomping grounds. With an irresitible laid-back flow and penchant for Mary Jane-laced wordplay, the Polo-obsessed rhyme spitter has become an international ambassador for Harlem style; the cool kid's cool kid. Having collaborated with a who's who of young hip-hop stars (Asher Roth, A$AP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, Dom Kennedy, and more), DZA is firmly establishing himself as a leader of the next generation of rap icons.
The rapper also known as the "Kushed God" is now joining forces with High Times and Cinematic Music Group for Rugby Thompson, a brand new album produced entirely by rising hitmaker Harry Fraud. With both men becoming leaders in the NYC hip-hop scene, the project came together naturally. "I met Harry at an Action Bronson show," explains DZA. "It turns out he had me on a short list of artists he wanted to work with. We ended doing a track together and building on some song concepts, and it started to turn into Rugby Thompson." Many of today's "collaborations" are done without a single face-to-face meeting, but Rugby Thompson is a rare exception. As Smoke explains, "It's not an 'inbox album'. All the concepts were really done as a team. The entire album was created in the lab by Harry and myself."
In addition to being Smoke DZA's first album produced entirely by one producer, Rugby Thompson is also his most thematically focused work to date. "The album was inspired by my favorite TV show Boardwalk Empire and the main character Nucky Thompson," says DZA. "I'm not forgetting about the smokers, but this album focuses more on the hustle side of the weed game and the parellels with Nucky's win-at-all-costs mentality." DZA also recruited a number of A-list guests for the album, including Action Bronson, Curren$y, Sean Price, Schoolboy Q, Domo Genesis, and more. "I happen to have great friends in the rap game," he explains. "There's no egos, just friends who like to hang out, crack jokes, and bring out the best in each other. It'll be a treat for the fans who love the music we all put out individually." With Rugby Thompson now ready for the world to hear, DZA is justifiably excited. "The end result is incredible," he says. "This has got to be my best work yet."
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