Smoke DZA is known by many fans as the ‘Kushed God’ for his fondness of fine bud, so the title of his latest album with Harry Fraud, He Has Risen, may lead fans to believe that he’s let the messianic signifiers go to his head. But no.
The name of the first collaborative project from the duo since 2012’s Rugby Thompson (and DZA’s first since 2014’s Dream.ZONE.Achieve) isn’t even about being high, rather it refers more to the the Harlem MC’s absence from music last year, and anticipated return.
“My dad has Diabetes and he had his leg amputated. So I had to be the good son and hold down the fort,” DZA says of his rap sabbatical, even referring to himself as a prodigal son. “Rap and everything had to take a back seat for a second. I had to make sure he got himself together. He’s been out the crib for a year. He really gave me the blessings like ‘Get out my face. You in here moping. Go be creative. Go make some money.’”
The result was a no-nonsense EP clocking in at a lean but potent 9 tracks where DZA sounds refreshed but focused, stepping out of his comfort zone.
“Smoke’s put out a lot of projects. He’s been at it for a minute,” says Harry Fraud. “And I feel like if I’m a fan of an artist I want to hear what I’m a fan of them for, that style, but I want them to show me that they’re evolving. Not every joint we make gotta be a mid-tempo weed smoking song.”
For example “Morals,” the song with Cannabis Cup champ Snoop could easily have been “How High” part 5 but instead Smoke and Harry brought out the more sinister “Deep Cover” flow out of Uncle Broadus.
“That’s really what this whole project is, too,” says DZA. “Not to give people what they expect. We feed the beast, but at the same time we giving’ them other shit, too.”
Watch our interview above where Smoke DZA and Harry Fraud talk about making the first single, “Heard Dat” and defying expectations.
He Has Risen is in stores on Friday March 4th.