Smoke DZA continues to build a respected and trustworthy discography, brick by brick. The Harlem native’s career dates back to the top of the millennium, garnering appeal since the very beginning. However, the prolific rapper and RFC Music Group founder has reached a stride in the late 2010s that shows even more streetwise lessons and clever lyricism. On October 18, he teamed up with Benny The Butcher for “Statue Of Limitations,” a six-song EP exclusively produced by Hip-Hop legend Pete Rock. The Cinematic Music Group/RFC release marks the start of an exciting time in DZA’s creativity. “I haven’t gotten writer’s block in so many years, because I live so much. Experiencing what I get to experience daily, it’s easier to create. I’m inspired,” he says. He kept the momentum going and quickly dropped “Prestige Worldwide,” a seven song ep with friend and frequent collaborator Curren$y. Eventually culminating in his seventh studio album “Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed” which released February 28th.
He is also influential. “I have grown comfortable with being somewhat of a gatekeeper when it comes to being an indie artist from New York,” DZA notes. “It involves constantly reinventing, reestablishing, and cementing myself of the culture of what’s going on, every year.” As a product of the early 2000s, DZA branded not only himself, but also scaled Smokers Club and Cinematic. Griselda’s Westside Gunn and Conway The Machine, along with Black Soprano Family’s Benny, are examples of artists who took notice of the groundwork. For them, DZA has been a ground floor collaborator. At the top of 2019, Smoke, Benny, and Wes were all recording projects in Los Angeles. Regularly bonding over meals and televised wrestling events, Smoke and Benny embarked on a collaborative EP. Pete Rock curated the sounds for six songs that involve Gunn, Styles P, and Conway. A title playing on words and its matching artwork offer a rugged reminder that things can still get gritty in a New York minute. Video single “7:30” featuring Westside Gunn drives the point home. This project is the Kushed God’s latest with Pete Rock, following late 2016’s Don’t Smoke Rock. That LP garnered acclaim, including some personal praise from Nas.
Following Statue, Smoke DZA will release Curren$y collaborative EP, Prestige Worldwide, on Black Friday (November 29), before Real Estate, his proper follow-up to 2018’s Not For Sale. “I view my art as real estate. I compare it to owning land or flipping a house. I think Real Estate is one of my best bodies of work that hasn’t seen any air, yet,” he admits. “But once it does, I think people will appreciate it.” Ownership is significant for DZA. The artist embraced a DIY vision in the years before it was popular. He turned away large offers to retain his masters, a decision that Smoke believes will feed his family, including a wife and children. From a city where well-heeled newcomers continue to displace generations of Black, Brown, and working-class families, Smoke DZA knows his value and refuses to compromise. “If you don’t own or have some type of leverage, you’re no good out here. They’ll move you away.” Real Estate