How Roy Ayers Influenced Smif-N-Wessun’s Dah Shinin [EXCLUSIVE]

On January 10th Brooklyn hip-hop duo Smif-N-Wessun, comprised of MCs Steele and Tek, will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their seminal debut album, Dah Shinin. As founding members of the Boot Camp Clik, Smif-N-Wessun foreshadowed the crew’s evolution in sound and purpose with their cameos on the tracks, “Black Smif-N-Wesson” and “U Da Man” on Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage.  But by the time the smokey horns and thick drums of “Bucktown” broke the sound barrier along with the sinister wales of “Sound Bwoy Bureill” Smif-N-Wessun had come into their own as the latest ambassadors of Kings County’s angst and pride.

So to celebrate two decades in the game we’ll be rolling out revelatory pieces from our interview with Smif-N-Wessun between now and January 10th.

In this first part they talk about the inspiration for their album cover and who exactly is lurking in the shadows.


“The album cover came by chance when meeting Baby Paul,” Steele says of the producer now known as BpZy. “One day in particular I went to his house and he had a shit load of records. One of them was Roy Ayer’s Ubiquity, He’s Coming. It’s an interpolation of that.”


“Everybody on the album cover is family. It’s basically the whole Bootcamp Clik: Heltah Skeltah, Top Dog, Louieville Sluggah, Starang Wondah, Big Old Pimp, Cookie head. He’s the only one that doesn’t ‘rap’ per se but he’s the one that’s kind of like the glue for everything and Thor, Buckshot’s brother. He’s on the album cover.”

“Back then we were so new and fresh to the game of hip-hop,” adds Tek. “When we recorded ‘Dah Shinin’ we didn’t even know what we was doing, putting an album together. We was just recording our verses over Beatminerz beats, [who] we watched during the entire [making of] Enta Da Stage with Black Moon. So we already felt privileged to have them working with us on this album. It was just an experience to have that experience, to do that photo shoot at the time. We were just kids in a candy store.”

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