Steele of Smif N Wessun - conducted by Angus Crawford  

Steele Interview

July 2007

MVRemix: It sounds like you guys got the same unity you started with.

Steele: Yeah I mean that's a blessing because most crews don't really sustain. I think that's our biggest reward out of everything. Being able to maintain and continue to put out music and people still buy the shit. We might have the same complaints as a lot of artists but a lot of these artists who have achieved platinum status are really going through it right now. They ain't really walk the walk that we've been walking for all these years, that we've been used to, that's why we be saying wear your timbs and shit like that. I throw on Nikes every once in a while because them shits give me flat fee.

MVRemix: [laughs] What do you think the biggest difference is between recording 13 years ago and recording now?

Steele: The only difference is you're conscious of the business a lot more now. Thirteen years ago, I think it was more the hunger of first getting into the studio. Now we be more strategic, like thinking about marketing and promoting, like are the fans that love us gonna feel this? Initially you just go in there and bang out. That's why Nocturnal was dope, that's why Enta Da Stagewas dope. We just went in there and put down what we felt and people loved that shit.

MVRemix: I was mentioning this to NoHa before. I feel you guys have always done a good job of marketing. On Enta Da Stageyou and Tek were on "Blak Smif N' Wessun" and then on Dah Shinin' you do "Cession at da Dog Doghillee" and "Sound Bwoy Bureill", you guys were always thinking one step ahead and setting the stage for the next generation.

Steele: I guess that's what we learned from dealing with a Buckshot, and myself and what I like to call "The Starting Five" of the Bootcamp Click and we learned from the generation before us. We watched them do things. We remember the Juice Crew, we remember even going back to The Treacherous Three. We watched Ice-T and his Rhyme Syndicate and plus in New York we always used to roll in posses. It's more fun when you eat together, you know. That's why I don't be mad when I see a lot of cats acting like they got a lot of money. It's cool having money, but its not cool to have money and the people around you are starving. You got to spread it out.

MVRemix: That's a good point.

Steele: We always try to spread it out as much as we can, and give the ones around us an opportunity. Like right now, we fucking with Rustee Juxx. Rusty has been around for years, and he's been working, he ain't just been waiting for a deal. He's out there working, doing shows, he's been on his own thing. And that's the thing we respect, to see dudes go out and really act like they want this shit. It takes some time for dudes to build up, and if you stick around long enough, you'll go through the same type of training that we went through. No fucking special treatment. Dudes had to earn their stripes, we use to go to the studio every fucking session with Buckshot. We was waiting, we never approached him and was like "Yo son can we get on the track? Can we get on the track? Can we get on this one?" We just sat there, rolled up a splif and that would circulate. Sometime we didn't even eat, just smoke and drink tea all night, and wake up in the morning, go home, come back in the night and do the same thing. It wasn't until he recorded like 13 songs, he was like "Aigt, I want you guys to get on this". We humbly sat on the side and waited our turn but as we waited, we learned how to record. I never watched an artist work so hard.

MVRemix: So when the time came you guys were ready?

Steele: Yeah. It's only right to pass that shit on. When we in the studio, we invite Ruck and Rock. When they in the studio, they invite O.G.C. so on and so forth.

MVRemix: That's good, and that's what keeps The Bootcamp strong to this day. You said earlier that you're influenced by a lot of other rappers. Who were some of your favorite rappers growing up?

Steele: I loved all those motherfuckers. Some of my favorites were of course, Chuck D, I was fucking with LL, Rakim of course, Kane, Kool G Rap, T La Rock, a lot of dudes. I just loved the culture, it was so brand new, it was like really going into different expansions, like you didn't even know it could go there. Like every two years somebody new with some new kind of rhyme would come out. I was even fucking with Ultramagnetics back in the day, you know what I'm sayin. MC Lyte I bumped all that.

MVRemix: You know MC Lyte and Kane are touring with The Roots.

Steele: Word.

MVRemix: Yeah.

Steele: That's hot. I didn't even know that. That's what I think hip hop needs to be doing man. Like any hip hop artist that's going on tour, needs to snatch up one or two other artists and just take them out there and give them an opportunity to make some money and keep that legacy alive. Don't let the fans get cheated out of seeing history. That's how we got to keep it fresh. That's why like when you do a Bootcamp show its real. When you do a Sean Price show...Sean Price can go to motherucking Chile to do a show. He's got two albums out, he's got enough material to do a 40 minute show by himself, and then when he do that he can take a Rustee Juxx to the next one and Rusty know because he's been watching Ruck do his shit. Smif N' Wessun, we got three albums, we can go to Amsterdam and do a show for an hour, an hour and a half and Buck is another four-five hours, you know what I mean and then together as Bootcamp we can go on together again and do a whole another hour and a half show. We got so many different variations, that we can go out and keep pumping this shit because it's always untouched land, like never let the fans get cheated out of thinking that hip hop is dead, its over, you can't hear the real shit.

MVRemix: What's your favorite song to perform live?

Steele: My favorite song to perform live, from Smif N' Wessun, is probably "Bucktown". I love that. I love the reaction when that first motherfucking note comes on. They hear that shit and they be like "Oh Yeah".

MVRemix: NoHa was telling me you were touring with Redman and Raekwon recently.

Steele: Yeah The Rock the Bells Tour. We hit up the States.

MVRemix: Did you guys do "Black Trump"?

Steele: Did we do "Black Trump"? Yeah we performed "Black Trump".

MVRemix: Yeah NoHa and I weren't sure, we were trying to figure it out.

Steele: [laughs]

MVRemix: I would be mad if I went to a Raekwon and Smif N' Wessun show and you guys did not do "Black Trump".

Steele: Yo I mean that was good man, cause that was one of those songs that you supposed to do. We in the house. Do it like it's the award show or some shit. Take advantage, because that's always going to make the people hype, you know what I'm sayin?

MVRemix: Yeah, that's the way it should be, but you know after you see some artists in concert, you start thinking, "why didn't they do this song, or why didn't they do that song".

Steele: Some artists be cheatin' man.

MVRemix: Not Bootcamp.

Steele: [laughs] Not the camp. Not anyone of us. We work hard man, we work really hard. We put our energy into it, give you verses, we might lose our fucking verses doing it but we go in, we go in.

MVRemix: You alluded to Smif N' Wessun's and Bootcamp's place in history before. How do you feel about Nas, Biggie, and Wu-Tang getting the credit for bringing the East Coast back, but Bootcamp was right there too and Black Moon was sort of before all of them?

Steele: It is what is man. We might not get all the credit, so to speak, but the cats who do get the credit, they know Bootcamp. In their minds, they know we are part of the evolution so it's kind of like an unwritten rule. We already know it and sometimes that's what you got to be satisfied with because if we go around being bitter on some "Yo, you all recognize, we the first ones who did this". You all know who made it cool to wear Timbalands to the club.

MVRemix: And army fatigues.

Steele: [laughs] I don't need to say that.

MVRemix: [laughs]

Steele: I don't need to be like, "Yo we're the ones who started wearing Timbs to the clubs", "we the ones who rolling deep", "we the ones who...", man fuck all that. We your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. Your rappers studied us, your rappers studied Sean Price, studied Black Moon, studied Buckshot. He listened to the flow. Buckshot let you know it was okay to flow and rhyme, you know what I'm saying. He let cats know how to do it, and to this day cats can't really do it do it like that. They know it when they see the homey and they respect him. That's why we ain't got no drama. We don't need that shit.

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"We got so many different variations, that we can go out and keep pumping this shit because it's always untouched land, like never let the fans get cheated out of thinking that hip hop is dead..."