West Coast Styles

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After having made their official debut on Black Moon’s Enta da Stage LP, Brooklyn, New York’s Smif-N-Wessun (a.k.a. Cocoa Brovaz), comprised of Darrell “Steele” Yates and Tekomin “Tek” Williams, would later go on to unleash the lead single, “Bucktown” b/w “Let’s Git It On,” courtesy of their first album, Dah Shinin’ [Wreck / Nervous Records], released in January 1995.

The duo also make up one quarter of supergroup Boot Camp Clik, alongside Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah and Originoo Gunn Clappaz.


First things first, last year (August 11th to be exact) marked the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop — What exactly does that mean to and for you?

August 11th marked an incredible milestone for Hip Hop. It also marked a personal milestone for me, as I was also celebrating my 50th year on earth. I was wearing the name HIP HOP as my nickname, lol! It is also important because Hip Hop was believed to be just a fad that would soon wither out over time. This is proof of LIFE, HIP HOP is more stronger than ever. Lastly, 50 was the age my father was when he transitioned. This will serve as a bar for me to continue in the spirit of my father as I continue in the spirit of HIP HOP.

To quote the late, great The Notorious B.I.G., “You never thought that Hip Hop would take it this far!” — Was this something that you ever could’ve imagined?

I witnessed the growth of Hip Hop like watching my own child grow up. It went from a crawl to a walk to a run to a jump, and continues to offer assorted, innovative and creative entertainment. I never imagined how far, but I knew it was a phenom that would stand the test of time. I always had a vivid imagination.

What are some of your fondest, most stand-out moments / memories during your lengthy tenure in this thing called Hip Hop?

Some of my fondest memories spawn from seeing all my guys in the studio, working , making money, having fun pursuing their dreams. We all came from humble beginnings, so to witness and be a part of the growth was impactful. Outside of that, is the ability to leave the country and meet new people and learn new cultures in exciting new places. Not to mention, meeting and working with some of the most influential artists, producers, directors all who are far too numerous to mention, all of which have an impactful memory that shaped much of who I am and how I approach my creative process today.

That said, what are your future plans and / or goals throughout the remainder of 2024 and beyond?

I want to release a lot of music. I just released a project titled, Building Bridges Volume 2, with Vermont based producer Es-K. We have been creating a lot of stuff. I have a few projects in the mill. I also want to release another book. We have a Smif-N-Wessun Tour this year, and we are scheduled to drop our 8th studio album with Duck Down Music this year.

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?

I want people to take the same thing that I take away from music. Music is therapeutic and could be used to heal, as well as bridge gaps amongst generations. It is a precursor to a broader means to communicate and express ideas and ideals through creativity. I would like you to be able to listen to each composition with your mind, and allow the sounds to seduce you and take you on a journey where that particular song leads.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

That’s tough. I did songs with Tupac, I wish I could’ve done a few songs with BIG. That’s just bucket list shit. It almost happened, but didn’t materialize.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

I have played in some historical venues, but never a football stadium. I seen a documentary on WattStax where they had rocked a stadium; it looked magnificent.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?

As I stated, I witnessed Hip Hop grow as my own child and we know that children often grow out of the parents’ guide and tends to soul search finding and creating new innovative ways (to) view, listen, receive and distribute your projects. That is the hopeful aspect that there will always be someone raising the bar to impress people on a global scale. I try not to mince my personal emotions and have an open mind.

What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?

I feel connected to everything, like the Avatar. I’m connected to the earth and the universe. I am connected to the people. I feel their pain and suffering, and I share their ambitions and enthusiasm. I am a vessel. These lyrics flow through me. I am what am, until I am no more.

Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?

I aspire to live better and to spread the gospel of good living in real time. I’m considering joining into (the) mental wellness field.

What’s an average day like for you?

No day is average with me. Each day offers another adventure with new obstacles to tackle. I give gratitude to be able to make it through some days.

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…

I reflect the energy that fans give me. Come with love, get love. Come any other way then…

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?

MY favorite I stated, just the ability to travel off of my craft. “And the word became flesh”; the worst is a long list of unforeseen, unfortunate circumstances that many of our talented giants face in this cutthroat monopoly.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I don’t like to give advice because people don’t listen, and I believe we all have to find our path. That requires trial and error, and often tribulation and humility. You have to really want it or it will eat your soul and move on to the next. Love Yourself. Be Free to Create Freely. “FREEATIVITY.”

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?


Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?

I think we good. Great building with you, follow: @GeneralSteele @RealSmifNWessun @Bucktown_USA.

Any “parting” words for our readers?



General Steele [Smif-N-Wessun]: In The Spirit Of Hip Hop #HH50

General Steele [Smif-N-Wessun]: In The Spirit Of Hip Hop #HH50

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