Unlike the hypocritical rhetoric of some backpack rappers that preach black empowerment during performances to all white audiences, in places like Norway, because they can’t pull a crowd on their home turf, Smif and Wessun are the real deal. Their first album Dah Shinin’, released in January 1995, debuted in the top 5 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and went on to sell over 300,000 copies in the United States.
So strong is their allure to their core fans, that Sean (who refuses to fly in airplanes) drove all the way from Chicago to New York, in order to catch Smif N Wessun’s performance at the Brooklyn Bodega Hip Hop Festival last year. That type of livication alone, is enough to pique any hip hop aficionado’s curiosity. Sean, like any true fan, began to break down all the minute details of how General Steele and Tek are the two members of Smif n Wessun, and how they had to change their name to Cocoa Brovaz, after the firearms manufacturer Smith and Wesson, sent them a “cease and desist” letter due to trademark infringement. (Steele and Tek are also members of the larger hip hop group, Boot Camp Clik.) “We later went to court and were granted limited rights to perform using our original name, more or less.” said Tek.
JahWorks.org touched base with Smif n Wessun at SUNY Purchase, in Westchester, days after Steele’s new solo LP release Amerikkka’s Nightmare Part 2, Children of War dropped on BuckTownUSA. As usual, the dynamic duo gave an energetic performance. They humorously engaged the college crowd by declaring their show a pizza party, and passing out boxes of pizza to the audience. Tek rode around on stage on a BMX bike borrowed from a student, but shortly after, Both Tek and Steele jumped off stage into the audience, where the stayed in the center of a cypher for the remainder of the concert.
Amerikkka’s Nightmare Part 2, Children of War is packed with all the provocative, politically charged lyrics one would hope to expect from a critical thinker from Bucktown, like General Steele. On the title track he raps, “I’m Amerikkka’s Nightmare, young black and just don’t give a f-ck. Ask me this whole government [is] corrupt.” On Pledge of Allegiance, he continues to instruct people to learn from history “Remember El Haj Malik Shabazz, by any means necessary gotta teach the class…” On Cry Freedom, “The queens of our nation are strip club dancers and the Food and Drug Administration givin’ us cancer. Too much radiation, cell phone preoccupation…” This album pulls no punches in denouncing America’s ills, in a way that you can’t help but sing along, even if your name is Betty Crakkker.