Legendary beatsmith Pete Rock and Bootcamp members Smif N' Wessun cook up something monumental. Get an earful right here...
If there's one thing to be said about the current era of rap music, it’s that artists are more willing to collaborate than ever before. Yet, there was a time when rap crews stayed to themselves and never crossed family lines to work with other camps. Back then, if you were Ruff Ryder, you only rocked with the double-R, and if you were Wu-Tang, you only broke bread with your Shaolin army.
It’s all different now. DJ Khaled can do a remix, have damn near everyone that’s buzzing in every region of the country dropping a verse and showing major love for a common cause. It’s in that spirit of connecting forces that we present to you a new project from two legends of the game: the Bootcamp Duo of Tek and General Steele (a.k.a. Smif N’ Wessun) and iconic producer Pete Rock. The individual stats of these two entities are too long to list, but together, their soon-to-be-released project is nothing short of its namesake.
We caught up with General Steele to get the raw information about Monumental, his colossal new endeavor.
First off, why did you name album Monumental?
Whenever me and my partner Tek do an album, we always have an idea of what the next album will be. When we did Dah Shinin, we already had the title Rude Awakening. After that, we already had the idea for Still Shinin. For this next album, we had the idea that it had to be something grand and really huge, and the name Monumental just fit.
So with you getting together with Pete Rock, who approached who?
Well, we – me, Tek, and Dru Ha [CEO of Duck Down] – approached Pete. We have a very good relationship and we build on everything and we are always on the same page. When it came to the producers, the only other name that came to mind was the Beatminerz because they created that classic Smif N’ Wessun sound for our first album. We wanted something interesting and new, and we kept bumping into Pete Rock, and it was like, “Wow, Eureka! Let’s do this.” He was with it too, and honestly, no other word can describe it but Monumental.
What’s the theme and mood for the album?
It’s more of a feel thing for us. Everything that we do is based on a particular vibe of me and Tek being friends and building on different concepts. Let’s say for example, if cops rolled up on us, and we had to run and do our thing, that’s what we’d talk about. For example, we have a song called “Night Time” and it’s all about the things that go on in the night, and Buckshot is on the hook talking about “The D’s and the Night Schemes,” and Pete Rock displays his Chocolate Boy Wonder flow on this too. We also have another song called “Roses” and it’s all about life and death, and why we only give roses when people are dead. Why not give them roses when they are alive? On the whole, it’s very cohesive: It sounds like Pete Rock, it sounds like Smif N’ Wessun. It’s a beautiful project.
How many tracks are on the album?
Right now we have twelve tracks, because we lost a few due to sample clearances. But you never know, some of those tracks might pop up somewhere when you least expect it.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned about being in the industry since the early ’90s?
I was just thinking about this the other day, and it’s this: even without money, you can be as rich as any pharaoh or king. It’s all about your legacy and what you mean to the people around you and how you treat them. You know, the Twin Towers are not physically here anymore, but the legacy of them will live on forever, just because of the people who were affected forever by them.
What does this album mean to you, and why should the fans check it out?
Monumental is a meeting of legends, and we’re creating something to add to the legacy of the ones who came before us, like Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Zulu Nation. When you have cats like us who came from nothing and made something of ourselves with our craft and creativity, it’s like going into the mind and finding that diamond and revealing it to the world. That’s the mental process we went through for this album, and I’m really excited for all the fans and listeners out there to hear this eventually. It’s marvelous to be on a record label like Duck Down, and it’s a good time for Tek and Steele and it’s a great time to put out our fifth album. We have features from Raekwon, Bun B, Hurricane G, Memphis Bleek so it’s certainly a monumental project. The first single right now is looking like it’s going to be the title track but that might change. I just hope the people enjoy it, and they can add it to other classics like Dah Shinin’ or Enta Da Stage.