Smoke DZA: Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

This rugged NY emcee lights it up.

Harlem rapper Smoke DZA has earned a name for himself in recent years by indulging in the sort of effortless, stoned-slow flow that his frequent collaborator Curren$y pioneered, but he seems to be consciously evolving with his sophomore effort. Produced entirely by Brooklynite workaholic Harry Fraud (French Montana, Wiz Khalifa), Rugby Thompson melds the grime of New York vintage with the foggier sonics and double-time flows of present-day blog rap. (The guests reflect this balance, as well, with current critical lightning rods like Schoolboy Q and Odd Future's Domo Genesis sharing the tracklisting with seasoned NYC vets like Sean Price and Thirstin Howl III.) And whether in the past or present, DZA tends to maintain a singular cool, one that mostly revolves around his passions for Polo gear and fine strains of marijuana, but he's most engaging when able to stretch his theme and style beyond those points. He reveals himself to be a finely-tuned storyteller on the tragic "Playground Legend" and something of a party starter with the loosely Eastbound & Down-inspired bounce of "Kenny Powers." – Andrew Nosnitsky, Google Play

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