DZA… Harlem’s nicest MC since Dipset’s golden era… and even then only Cam or JR Writer could fuck with the wordplay and delivery of Mr. Rugby Thompson - and in today’s era? Even though it seems to be all family the A$AP Mobb put together can’t rap with this guy - where despite a lack of commercial success it seems evident that Smoke DZA is the only Harlem spitter that deserves the crown.
Yet here we are 4 studio albums and 10+ mixtapes into his career, and somehow despite his skills DZA has yet to truly make his impact on the game (at least in consideration to his potential), and therefore with this Pete Rock collaboration there’s officially no better time than now to put his stamp on Hip Hop. On the surface it’s the perfect team, legendary production from the #1 Soul Brother and the slickest game spitting from Harlem’s finest, and together they have 13 records that should make all of Hip Hop’s purists take notice.
Don’t Smoke Rock is critiqued track by track below:
“It’s a vibe, it’s a painting, it’s a moment, this mother fucker in you capsule, this something that only come around once in a lifetime, we come from money-making Harlem, the Wild 100's, like old Harlem, I watched the gentrification, before it was into Starbucks and Chase banks and all that fly shit” 💪 Harlem!
Limitless ft Dave East
“Big meals at Frankie & Johnny's, I tip generous, ain't no ceilings for DZA, my shit limitless” Throughout the tape there are references only specific to Harlem - such as the Al Pacino / Michelle Pfeiffer movie above - and DZA blesses this with more fire like “Righteous, been blessed since diapers, for the lookers and the likers, the boy dead Syria, nigga, watch how they ISIS, the nicest, underrated, overrated, fuck the ratings, who debating? then screw your opinions, see what the people saying” perfectly illustrating DZA’s current status in the genre - meanwhile Nas protege only lends his voice to the hook.
Black Superhero Car ft Rick Ross
“I'm from this lil part of Harlem, shit is like Iraq, young boy barking but his gat bite back, ***** playing, you will lay, life facts, take Eric Gardner killers give me Sean Price back” Tough record with super tough production but it could have been iller… Ross spits a nice 16 but this record is overall underwhelming to a degree… was expecting too much perhaps
Hold The Drums ft Royce Da 5’9’’
“Kush god, Pete Rock, in your earlobes, had the babyface flow now I let the beard grow, lil' ***** pointing in the streets like, ‘there he go,’ mama had me rockin' bucket hats when I was a year old” Classic Pete Rock & Classic DZA…. where the sample so real ‘you can hold the drums’... Royce spits a nice 16 as well, but not to the point where it was really a necessary feature… overall one of toughest records on the project tho
Moving Weight Pt 1 ft Cam’ron & NymLo
“That's an understatement, king of the under pavement, real New York Knick fan when they was under Layden - I only fuck with ***** like me, and I ain't never met no others ***** like we, I’m still the same ***** since the 4 wing pork fried rice 3 duck sauce and Chinese Iced-Tea” Harlem! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
"Mafioso flow, butter soft leathers, let's fuck up some cheddar, get money endeavors, whatevers whatever uh, cutting up like Super Shredder…” tbh this is just too easy for DZA… and for that reason it’s underwhelming… DZA could never ever ever be wack but he can honestly go harder than this… as these quality of verses can be found anywhere else in his catalogue - and this doesn’t seem like the right time to put it into cruise control.
“Hop off planes, get change like it's the dope game, before the rap shit came I had gold chains, ***** we all got drugs, so what's yo thing? we ain't the same, I'm hustlin' for my last name” Clearly inspired by DZA’s new found mentor none other than the infamous Dame Dash, DZA raps about an honorable concept that Dame has brought to the forefront over the last few years… the idea you should hustle for your last name not your first… and spread all the love and wealth amongst those you consider real family.
1 of 1
“I'm tapped in, whole 'nother energy, Bo Jack minus the injuries, (?) without the drug habits, Ron Artest before he changed his identity, LES in front of Epsteins, Waldorf, I'm on the West Wing, two bad ones they best friends, one annoying, the bitch could fuck up a wet dream, took a hiatus, I'm back boy, papa love the man, they ask for it, Blues Brothers shit, I'm Aykroyd, fucking up Peter Louis with Fat Boy” <<< smh those lyrics are why DZA is one of the nicest hands down, but I’ll pass on this production tho…
Milestone ft BJ the Chicago Kid, Styles P & Jadakiss
“When you up the hate come from left field, I'm tapped in dog, blue pill red pill, feeling like Drago on the treadmill, on the road so much forgot how my bed feel” Jadakiss... Styles… Smoke DZA… BJ the Chicago Kid… and Pete Rock… what else you need to know… just press play and support good Hip Hop.
Show Off ft Wale
“I smoke until I'm dizzy, I call up DZA to get me, I'm never distant from real *****, only digital enemies, Twitter, Twitter, you killin' me, I ain't DM-ing bitches unless she feelin' me” .... I can’t stand Twitter raps… at all.. and those 2 bars legitimately exemplify what is wrong with Wale’s focus… while here at LegacyArtsMedia we wonder how can you be legendary when you too busy worried about trending topics???
Dusk 2 Dusk ft Big K.R.I.T., Dom Kennedy, theMIND
“Know it's nice out, when the bikes out, 80 dollar bets, so bring the dice out, feds snatch Black, he be right out, Jerk salmon and mac and cheese from lighthouse” Smooooooooooth production and DZA really flexes on this… wish he took all 3 verses but the features are cool as well
I Ain’t Scared
“I ain't scared of you motherfuckers, take a drag of the bud, Plies gon' get a ***** killed running off on the plug, main joint, freaking off, might shoot up her club with a scary round, NuvaRing don't fail me now” I like the 70’s vibe and the Nas sample and what sounds like a Bernie Mac sample… but overall… this debatably SKIP worthy… even with the Pete Rock verse to close it out… cool for the vibe tho
Until Then ft Mac Miller
“I ghostride my own mind, I'll be there in no time, I live and died at least three or four times before, had my funeral so drop the top and suicide the coffin doors, I'm reincarnated, back to the drawing board, back to start of the board game please restart the score, shit start a war you softer than the carpet floor, fuckin with a carnivore heart as frozen as the Arctic ocean, bring a shark to shore, dick in her jaws, I give her wood like a carpenter, Jesus and his modern form…” those bars are halfway decent from Mac Miller, although it’s not what I was looking for on the outro to the Smoke DZA/Pete Rock collaboration… even with the Friday sample you can definitely SKIP this record, and it’s a shame because Don’t Smoke Rock should have ended on a higher note than this.
Overall this project finds a way to be classic DZA yet underwhelming in the same way, as despite the addition of Pete Rock coming with inevitable high expectations (whether that’s fair/misguided/nostalgic thinking or not), the quality of the music on Don’t Smoke Rock is in every way comparable to every DZA release beforehand - in essence being no better or worse than Rolling Stoned, Rugby Thompson, Dream.Zone.Achieve, or any of his mixtapes - and you can make a strong case that this release even has less moments. Granted I suppose this release isn’t truly about making ‘moments’ - at least not on a mainstream level - but even in regards to classic album cuts there’s very few standouts - though ‘Hold the Drums,’ ‘Milestone,’ ‘Last Name’ and a few others certainly deserve consideration. If nothing else this is a solid addition to Smoke DZA’s very underrated catalogue, even if it’s not the project that will garner him any more fame or admiration than he already had before.