“Please hold all applause till the end,” Smoke DZA asked a crowd of eager fans while Pete Rock prepped the next song. You could cut the “real hip-hop” love in the air with a knife, but Don’t Smoke Rock‘s inaugural set overtook every other set at the BabyGrande 15th anniversary showcase this past Monday (November 28). On paper, the Kushed God DZA and Soul Brother #1 might not seem like a pair ready to drop one of the fiercest bouts of cool on 2016, but the bars and jokes they shared while on stage at New York’s Highline Ballroom proved just how kindred their spirits are.
Carrying records for Rock eventually led to the two working together on the extended monologue “Achieve” from 2014’s Dream.Zone.Achieve and precedent for fans to lose their minds. When rumors really started swirling last year, we took a stab at the group name and almost got it right, and now the duo are capping off their own respective banner years with Don’t Smoke Rock; this is DZA’s fourth project and second full-length collab of 2016 after the Harry Fraud produced He Has Risen from March and Rock’s graced De La Soul, Torae, Mistah F.A.B., and more with headbangers. But hearing DZA say he’s willing to trade the police who killed Eric Garner for the late Sean Price in the same three minutes as a Rick Ross verse over Rock’s orchestra and booming drums is proof that hip-hop knows no age or style. The stacked guest list proves that even more: Mac Miller, Royce 5’9″, Wale, Cam’ron, Dave East, Jada Kiss, Styles P Big K.R.I.T., theMIND, BJ The Chicago Kid all do their part to bridge the age gap that’s been keeping us at each other’s throats for the last year and change.
DZA finally gave us permission to clap after the serene Royce featuring “Hold The Drums” faded out for the second time that night. Everyone was already hooked on this rock.
We talked with DZA and Rock about coming together to form Don’t Smoke Rock, wanting parts in season 2 of Luke Cage, and bridging the age gap with Lil Yachty. Check ’em out below.