Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
There’s a reason why his name is Smoke DZA. Dude loves to smoke trees. The Uptown spitter, who has a preference for Dutch Masters filled with sour diesel or kush, is one of the dopest rappers bubbling out of the five boroughs. And in 2014, his stock is rising higher, thanks to his high-grade album release Dream.ZONE.Achieve which dropped earlier this week, and his highly anticipated collaborative project with fellow Harlemite Cam’ron (who makes a guest appearance on “Ghost of Dipset”), which is due out sometime this year, hopefully sooner than later.
To appropriately promote his latest project, we got on the horn with DZA yesterday to discuss his five favorite songs to smoke to for a special Kush Edition of Heavy Rotation. And along the way, we found about his tour bus life with Pro.Era, effective methods for hitting your G Pen on a plane, and what his favorite Jay Z song of all-time is. Roll up.
1. Young Jeezy ft. Snoop Dogg, Devin the Dude, and Mitchellel “Higher Learning”
“‘Somebody call the weed man, I’m tryin’ to get high…’ I like smoking to that record because the beat is real hazy, real smooth. I think that might be my favorite Jeezy song.
“I can see it clearly. I’m on the back of the tour bus, and I’m sparkin’ somethin’. I got a popcorn bag of full of the lights from the Bay. The lights is off, I’m back there alone—pause—and I’m listening to that dumb loud while the kids are in the front. Joey Bada$$ and them doing some ratchet shit. I’m the old man in the back, listening to ‘Higher Learning,’ tellin’ them niggas, ‘Yo, stay away from the door.’ [Laughs.]
“I’d have freestyle sessions with [Pro.Era] all the time. They keep me young. Not that I’m an old nigga. I’m 30 years young. But they’re like my younger brothers. They keep me in tune, and keep me crisp. And we smoke massive bud [together].”
2. Jay Z “Allure”
“That’s my favorite Jay Z song of all-time. I’m mad that nobody talks about that song. He just broke down so many aspects of life. ‘I never felt more alive than riding shotgun/In Klein’s green 5 until the cops pulled guns/And I tried to smoke weed to give me the fix I need/What the game did to my pulse, with no results.’ So many lines. ‘Even James Dean couldn’t escape the allure/Dying young, leaving a good looking corpse.’ That whole song is amazing, breakdown for breakdown.
“It’s really the hook. ‘I solemnly swear, to change my approach/Stop shaving coke, stay away from hoes.’ That shit was my life. I really love that song.”
3. Scarface ft. 2Pac and Johnny P. “Smile”
“I love to blaze to it, because of the beat, of course. I pick my beats in how I love my favorite songs, the people I listened to growing up. I’m a Bad Boy/Roc-A-Fella baby, so everything that came out of that era, I was brought up from that. That raised me. That’s the sound that I came from. Biggie Smalls is tattooed on me. He’s the reason I rap. I wanted to rap when I heard Biggie Smalls.
“I wasn’t the biggest 2Pac fan, I will admit. I was a big Scarface fan, and I never hated Pac, but my style was just, B.I.G. But when this song came out with the video and everything, I loved it. I loved this song before I even started to smoke weed. But then starting to smoke weed and listening to it and meditating, and hearing how Pac and Scarface was going on it [made me love it even more]. ‘Nigga you black, smile for me now!’ It was just so powerful. I felt when Pac said that in the ad-libs on the hook. I listened for that part. And when it came on, I would poke my chest out. It just makes me feel mad good.
“I would listen that on the plane. Dead high, just checked in, lugging my bags through the terminal, I’m getting on a flight to L.A. for six hours, and I got that song on repeat for maybe like a good hour, as I casually hit my G Pen on the low. You gotta blow it in your shirt on the plane. I blow it in my shirt, and no one says anything. And if they happen to see it or look around, it’s like, ‘Too late.’ [Laughs.]”
4. Nas ft. AZ “The Flyest”
“That’s one of my favorite songs off Stillmatic, [my] number two [favorite Nas album behind Illmatic]. And it’s one of the best Nas and AZ songs. The back and forth, the verses, the hook. I love that song, top to bottom. I listen to that song when I’m in the drop with the top down, smokin’ a L riding down 8th Avenue. Got that bumping on a nice sunny day—not too hot, not too cold. That’s the now song for spring. The spring in New York song.”
5. Smoke DZA ft. Curren$y “Personal Party”
“That was one song that we actually didn’t do together [in the studio]. We did that song via email, which we never do. We always zone out and work together. I actually had my own personal party doing that song, smoking mad blunts to the face. And that came from right after the tour—I think it was [the second Smokers Club tour]—and our whole spiel during that tour was, ‘Everybody got a personal.’
“So stemming off of that, and me doing Rolling Stoned, I was like, ‘We need to categorize what that means when somebody smokes alone, instead of saying, ‘Facing a blunt.’’ We call it a ‘personal.’ So he steamed up in his studio where he was at, and I steamed up in my studio where I was at, I shot him the record, [we both had a personal party], he sent it back, and that was it.”
“We have a lot of scattered records together, but no [upcoming] project set in stone right now. There’s this record that we did with ItsTheReal, with Jeff and Eric [Rosenthal]. It’s a funny, funny record. I think it’s coming out soon. I’m curious to see how everyone’s gonna take it. I think everybody’s gonna like it. The fact that they have us on the record, and they’re fucking hilarious, and me and Spitta do what we do and kept it lyrical, I think it’s really cool.”
In celebration of Wrestlemania, Smoke DZA and 183rd’s Ringside 2 project drops this Sunday. Stay tuned. Rrrriiiiiiigggghttttt.
Previously: Heavy Rotation with Chase N. Cashe | Heavy Rotation with Tree (Chi-Town Edition) | Heavy Rotation with Eddie Huang | Heavy Rotation with Doley Bernays | Heavy Rotation with Black Dave | Heavy Rotation with Mistah F.A.B. (Bay Area Edition) | Heavy Rotation with Hannibal Buress | Heavy Rotation with Chuck Strangers | Heavy Rotation with Sean Price | Heavy Rotation with MTV’s Rob Markman