Smoke DZA & R.F.C. Crew Talk ‘Outsiders’ Album and Their Brotherhood
Wiz Khalifa has Taylor Gang, Curren$y Spitta has Jet Life, and Harlem’s own Smoke DZA has R.F.C. better known as Really F---in Cool.
Smoke DZA, who got his start in the music game in 2002 as one half of the Smoke and Numbers crew, has released three solo albums and nine mixtapes. During his solo career, he has earned the ears and respect of his fellow rap peers, including Big K.R.I.T., Wiz Khalifa and Cam’ron, amongst others.
Now with his crew -- which consist of rappers Smoke DZA, Al Doe, Bluntsmoker, Nym-Lo and producer 183rd -- they already released their debut album, The Outsiders in 2014, and are working on their follow-up project.
The Outsiders album is a kush-filed audio narrative highlighting the personas and collective lyricism among the group. With Al Doe’s lingo for drug induced metaphors, Nym-Lo’s unapologetic griminess yet vulnerable flow mixed in with Bluntsmoker’s humor and 183rd’s infectious beats, the reigning Kush God orchestrated a rap crew worthy of their crew's name.
We sat down with Al Doe, Smoke Dza, Bluntsmoke and 183rd who arrived towards to end of the interview (Nym-Lo couldn’t make it) and got to know who R.F.C. is, how they came about, and what they are here to do for the rap game.
The BoomBox: Smoke, when you were first coming up after your Substance Abuse release in 2009, not only were you getting exposure going on tour with Big K.R.I.T. and Curren$y but as indie artist you had a huge online following. How did you flip the hustle from the streets of Harlem to online marketing your own albums and mixtapes?
Smoke DZA: I have to credit Steve, my manager Steve-O, for my online success. Before I was doing all the Smoke and Number s--- as well as writing for other rappers too I was just in a purging stage where I just had so much music and I had an outlet (the internet) but I didn’t really know how to go about it until Steve. He’s broken a lot of artists before and after me so he’s the one who got me internet savvy.
Now you are signed?
DZA: Not actually, I am signed to myself. So I am still independent. That’s like the biggest misconception of Smoke DZA, is that I am with one of these major corps, but I’m not. I am like totally independent. I do little indie situations, but that’s the most I will be tied up with for now until they come with a bag...A big bag.
You dropped your third solo album, Dream.Zone.Achieve, then you followed it with Really F--ing Cool's The Outsiders' project. How did it feel to be back in a group again?
DZA: The second album was really a collaborative effort. It wasn’t the regular DZA approach because I collaborated with my brothers, who all have very different creative input. It’s a different kind of flavor from everything else. I mean I look at it as one of my albums because it’s that powerful-its not like I just sat back and was just on four or five songs. We are not forced to get along that’s one thing.
How do all of you guys know each other...on The Outsiders, Smoke you talk about your first time meeting Doe?
Al Doe: I met Smoke a few years ago, maybe like three or four years ago, so we didn’t grow up together. But we are both are kind of similar people as far as energy and vibes. A mutual person that we knew, we met in their studio environment and we started chilling from there. From there I met Bluntsmoker and Nym-lo, we all are similar, but we all have different vibes. So when we get together it’s pretty much organic.
Who came up with the name Really F---ing Cool?
Bluntsmoker: The name R.F.C. -- Really F---in Cool -- that was Smoke’s idea but I think everybody has their own name for it. Doe might call it “Refer F---in Champagne,” and I might call it “Really F---in Chicks,” we all got our own little name for it, that’s how that goes.
What's a typical R.F.C. studio session like? Of course, full of Kush, but...
Bluntsmoker: We get off the elevator, Doe got a bottle in his hand, Nym got a bottle of champagne in his had me and Smoke got the bags of weed and Third got the computer with the beats on it. We sit [producer 183rd] down and we tell him which beats we want. Then it’s like ‘yo who got the hook’ and whoever comes up with the hook first got the hook. Or if don’t sound right, you are just not on that song and you have to sit back and wait for the next one.
How do you know if someone doesn’t sound right or the verse doesn’t suit the song?
Bluntsmoker: Because you know.
Doe: We just be like “Yo that s--- sounds trash!” (laughs). We have done songs were let’s say Bluntsmoker did a verse and then I did a verse and we listen to it and are [collectively] like, "nah I am not feeling this." Or Smoke may say some freaky s--- and we all start laughing like ‘f--- out of here we can’t say that.’ So basically we kind of keep it “yes men” free.
DZA: I am the king of cutting n----s verses. For instance, we had a bunch of songs the didn’t make the album, songs people thought were going to make it. Den 10 was on a few records with us but that s--- was trash so we had to get it out of there. That’s just what it is. If its garbage its out of here not matter who it is.
Doe: When we all do music everybody respects one another as an artist. We know we are all dope and can rap our asses off, so you can’t really take it personal when one particular verse doesn’t sound right or it’s not working.
So that's how The Outsiders album was born...?
Doe: Well, also we didn’t send each other verses we were in the studio everyday together. We found a studio two hours away in New Jersey. A lot of people record at night, but for this project we drove out there like everyday at 7 a.m. and we were all there every day for like three weeks.
How was it, recording so early in the day?
Doe: It was a change of pace for us, because we were writing verses at like 11 a.m., because we drink and record usually at night. But its work at the end of the day, it’s how we feed our families.
I think I caught contact just listening to the album. Tell me about the "R.F.C. Meets Taylor Gang" track, that must have felt right at home for the Smokers Club and TG.
Bluntsmoker: I invited Chevy [Woods] over to the studio one time when he was in town. I hit him, I said "I’m about to call my engineer what you trying to do? You want to make some music?" So me and him, we recorded the song first. Then Nym hit me trying to sell me a shirt (laughs) I’m like "I’m not trying to buy no shirt I’m in here recording with Chevy." So said word, "I got a track for Chevy too." I told him to come though, because Chevy was here today only. The thing with Chev is he’s such a cool n---- he’s like 'I don’t care, I am here tell whoever wants to do a track come through today, shoot videos and do everything.’ He so much of a down to earth person it was so easy to get some tracks done.
What do you each bring to the group lyrically?
Blutsmoker: I’m keep it a stack. I am not as good as Smoke, Nym and Doe but I got a lot of swag. I swag it out so crazy, how could you not go with the swag. Bitches love swag.
DZA: I like to flirt with different flows. I like to tell stories. I am a good at story telling. I think the art of storytelling is bleak in hip-hop right now. So for me, I bring the versatility with my flows and the art of story telling to the table.
Doe: I’m just like a super competitive person. I grew up the sore loser, so I just really want to--even against my brothers-I compete to be the best at everything that I do. So I a lot of the times I will finish up last on a song, because as far as the group I am a good finisher. I am a versatile artist who can do anything, but I really just want my respect so n----s know I get busy. I want to be number one.
If you could smoke with a deceased rapper or icon, who would it be and what would you ask the person?
Bluntsmoker: I want to get high with Michael Jackson!
What would you talk about with him?
Bluntsmoker: How many bitches he f---ed? Mike ain’t gay, I know it. He’s been with a lot of chicks and I just want to know how many.
DZA: I would smoke with Biggie. I want to ask him how he got murdered?
So we all know Smoke loves wrestling he has two mixtapes (Ringside and Ringside 2) dedicated to them. What hobbies do you guys have outside of rap?
Doe: I collect cactus and succulent plants...pause. I have a quad-colored aloe plant. I have agave plants and other different s--- that nobody knows about. I do a lot of weird s---.
DZA: Yeah, he watches the National Geographic channel.
Doe: Yea I am into that, but my favorite thing to do is eat.
Do you know how to cook?
Doe: Yea, I know how to make shrimp pasta, you know scampi. I can cook everything I’m a chef.
Bluntsmoker: Yeah, he’s a microwave chef!
Bluntsmoker: But I’m into smoking all kinds of weed. I just want to find the best kinds of weed and talk s--- about it.
What would you be doing if you weren't rapping?
Bluntsmoker: If I wasn’t rapping I would be...Smoke what would I be doing?
DZA: I don’t know pissing me off somewhere...
Smoke you are like Bluntsmoker’s big brother.
DZA: I might as well be (laughs)
Bluntsmoker: Nah If I wasn’t rapping I would probably be jumping around on stage somewhere but only without a mic. But I was playing basketball before I linked with Smoke. I went to boarding school and was out their killing those white n—gas. I was one of the best dudes in the hood as far as basketball and Smoke was one of the best rappers so we connected from there.
DZA: I never seen myself doing anything other than what I am doing. Ever since I was in like fourth or fifth grade I used to say to myself "what am I going to be doing in the year 2000?" Like my grandfather wanted me to be a doctor and that was like most outlandish s--- you could have wanted me to be coming where I’m from. I was like I am definitely not going to be a doctor, I the going to the doctor. I know I was to special of a human being to be retrained to something. I can’t see myself being any thing other than that n----.
DZA: He feels the same way.
Doe: I mean but I also grew up wanting to be a lot of s---. I wanted to be a fireman (laughs). I love firemen. You have to be a brave mother---er to jump into something, everyone else is trying to jump out of. I got a respect for firemen. But I don’t know I ain’t even going to lie, I would probably be selling drugs or trying to get a job, because I just had a daughter.
Who is the funny guy of the crew?
Doe: Everybody is really funny in there own way.
Bluntsmoker: On the tour bus it gets crazy because there definitely is a lot of snapping.
Nym couldn't make it but, where’s 183rd? He’s on the album cover with you guys but you never really hear about him.
DZA: Yea he’s on the cover of the album and he produced maybe 60 percent of the album, but you know writers, this is a PSA to writers; they like to give the reviews that they want to give. They write the headlines and tell the stories that will sell.
Doe: At the same time 183rd, he has a passion for what he does and he wants to be recognized but at the same time he’s a producer, he doesn’t really give a f---. He’s an essential part the group and he brings out the best in everybody, but you don’t always hear ago Hugo from the Neptunes you always hear about Pharrell. Maybe he doesn’t want the light.
DZA: Speaking of the devil, he’s here now.
Is there someone in the crew who is very meticulous?
Doe: I am a nervous wreck
DZA: Yea he’s a nervous f---in wreck, bites his nails every two seconds.
Doe: We late for flights and all that. I be shaking in the cab for no reason. I just like everything to be a certain way.
DZA: I am passive I don’t care about s--- too much.
Bluntsmoker: I am a cancer I care too much. We want s--- done right. We want to be there early, we don’t want to be late.
183rd: Yea I am the mean one. I keep it balanced because there’re always happy.
You guys worked with Dame Dash, Cam'ron and A$AP Mob for this one - Smoke you been rolling with them since day one. What does it mean for you all to keep the Harlem movement going and show support for other rappers?
DZA: I like showing camaraderie but a lot of time that s--- don’t get me now where. But I like working with people cause I like sparring. I like to test my skill.
How do you feel about Cam'ron retiring after Purple Haze 2?
Doe: It’s unfortunate.
DZA: I think it’s a gaff, but that’s Killa. Whatever though.
Smoke are you cooking up anything for the top of 2015? You posted a few pics on set with Cam and Dame Dash.
DZA: I shot two movies, this year. Shot out to Dame Dash and Dame Dash Studios. Loisaidas [produced by Kanye West and Dame Dash] and Too Honorable I am starring in both of them. I didn't really need acting lessons because they didn't really let me step out outside of who I am. Some parts are exaggerated of course, but other then that...
So what's next for R.F.C.? Tour?
DZA: We have a bunch on s--- lined up, a bunch of videos that are being shot. Everybody is working on there solo projects. Because we are not actually a group, we are all each individual talents. We're like 'Voltron' (like the movie) and this is the brand -- but everyone holds there own weight outside of R.F.C. That's what made it special to me because I wasn't looking at this to create a bunch of people thats under me. They stand beside me.