To be fresh in hip-hop, to be innovative, you have to be prepared to go the route that no one has tried. You have to be in it for the music, regardless of what the general public thinks.
The indie record label Definitive Jux has always been on the forefront with that kind of thought, that kind of idealism, and because they stay there, they gain success in their own right, never having to lie or be false in order to gain recognition for what it is that they do.
Enter the newest addition to the Def Jux label, S.A. Smash – two fresh hip-hop hit men, unafraid to slay you with in-your-face mic skills, steal your bling-bling, give it to the nearest vagrant, and then go to your girlfriend’s place to celebrate. They share their reality on their recently released debut CD, Smashy Trashy, a tribute to late-night New York, and all of the amenities thereof.
“People try to pigeonhole the album as a party album, but that’s not what it is,” says Camu. “In reality, it’s not a party album – it’s a real-time life album, that’s what I call it.” Camu is one-half of the Smash Brothers, handling a great deal of the music production as well as his share of the rhymes. As an underground production veteran, Camu has been moving up in the game since his mid-teen years, “It’s like back in the day, you go and you’re chillin’ at the party, and you got two cats who jump up on the mic just joshin’ with each other, and whoever rocked the party the best was the man, you know? And that’s how I live.”
Very much down for the reality of life, it’s understandable that they are on Def Jux label. But there is a different philosophy behind S.A. than there is with the rest of the label. While the others sometimes seem driven by insomnia-induced insanity, apocalyptic visions and governmental paranoia (all valid, so far as I’m concerned), S.A. just wants to go out with a smile.
At the same time, they don’t disregard the hard life, “I’m not some million dollar dude,” Camu points out. “I don’t have all of this money and these cars and shit. So how can someone expect me to write about that shit? I know what I know. I’ve seen some of my friends get shot and die. I know some cats who’ve done some crazy shit and gone to jail, which was fucked up ‘cause they were really talented – some real life shit…I mean, why lie? I’d rather be me than some fictional character…I’ve been doing this for eleven years of my life, though, and I’m doing what I want to do now. I get to make good music, which is initially what it’s about, and I get to talk to kids, too, and tell them that it’s not all about chasing a dollar, but that they should just live their lives, have fun and try to stay out of trouble and know what trouble is.”
Luckily for those of us who live the sheltered life, the album that Camu has created with his partner, Metro, has given us the opportunity to learn what trouble is without having to experience it. Smashy Trashy doesn’t come across as troublesome though. The rhymes flow in a humorous, almost slapstick fashion at times in a combination with the beat that makes you laugh out loud, and then shake your head and your ass at the same time. The beat keeps bumpin’ throughout the album while the opener track “Smash TV”, featuring Cage, hits with a hardcore vibe that seems to hook more with veteran hip-hop heads, along with tracks “Robot”, ”Clout”, “Slide on ’Em” featuring Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox, and the aptly-named “A.A.”, which are all guaranteed to be floor-rocker classics.
The funny-yet-funky “Love to F*!K” featuring Def Jux All-Star Aesop Rock proves that the Smash brothers can bring a vibe that will make even the headiest of emcee’s want to get their freak on, and tracks like “Last Night” and Get Home” reveal their version of the ups and downs of what seems to be their favorite intoxicant, alcohol.
Although it seems that with their busy schedule they have little time for indulgences. But the intense producer and general beatwriter Camu also doubles up as a “hired gun” studio producer on the side, as well as being a part of multiple other projects. He is also a founding member of the group MHz along with label-mate RJD2, as well as the member of the supercrew The Weathermen with fellow Jukies El-P, Cage, Copywrite, and Vast Aire. He’s also dropped an EP with Cage entitled Nighthawk, which, by my understanding, took only two weeks – one to make the beats, and one to write rhymes.
Tenacity – don’t expect this to be the last you hear from the Smash Brothers. Smashy Trashy is awesome because it parties hard so that you don’t have to. But underneath, if you listen close, you’ll hear what I’ve heard, you’ll see that there is a more serious side to it. It’s not just having fun but love for what you do that keeps these guys in the hip-hop game, and will hopefully bring them back with more records to come.
Check out S.A. Smash this coming Tuesday at The Fox Theater in Boulder Colorado, where they will perform in support of The Perceptionists, featuring Mr. Lif and Fakts One – DON’T MISS IT!!