Smoke DZA performing at Smoker's Club Tour in 2010.
|Birth name||Sean Pompey|
February 8, 1984|
Harlem, New York, United States
|Labels||Babygrande Records, Cinematic, High Times Records, Jet Life Recordings, RFC Music Group, iHipHop Distribution, Fontana|
|Associated acts||Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T., Currensy, Dom Kennedy, Wiz Khalifa, Pete Rock|
1984–2007: Early life and career beginnings
Smoke DZA was born February 8, 1984 at Harlem Hospital in New York City and has lived in New York all his life. The son of two Guyanese immigrants, Smoke was exposed to music at home by his father and fell in love with hip hop at a young age. He grew up listening to and emulating fellow New Yorkers Jay-Z and Notorious BIG. After dropping out of high school to pursue his music career, DZA began battle rapping and has battled fellow Harlem-based rapper J.R. Writer. Smoke DZA decided on his moniker after being influenced by Chris Tucker's character Smokey from the movie Friday and the acronym DZA stands for "Dream Zone Achieve". He was discovered by Jonny Shipes of Cinematic Music Group in 2002 and went on to ghostwrite for numerous rappers, including Hi-Tek. In 2002, he partnered to become one half of the group Smoke & Numbers, until going solo in 2008.
2008–present: Rugby Thompson and Dream.Zone.Achieve
Since splitting from Smoke & Numbers to pursue a solo career, DZA has released a string of mixtapes including Substance Abuse, Substance Abuse 1.5, George Kush The Button, Rolling Stoned, Sweet Baby Kushed God, Cuz I Felt Like It and K.O.N.Y. He has worked with Big K.R.I.T., Wiz Khalifa, and ASAP Rocky among others and is a founding member of the Smokers Club. His album, Rolling Stoned was awarded the High Times Doobie Award for Hip Hop album of the year for 2011. DZA latest album Rugby Thompson was released in June 2012 by High Times and Cinematic Music Group. The album was produced entirely by Harry Fraud. The album features numerous artists including Action Bronson, Currensy, Domo Genesis, Schoolboy Q and ASAP Twelvyy.
On April 1, 2014, Smoke DZA released Dream.Zone.Achieve, his third studio album. The album consisted of 21 songs broken down into three sections, Dream, Zone and Achieve, each with 7 tracks. Features included fellow Harlem native Cam'ron, Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y.
On April 6, 2014, in the midst of WrestleMania XXX, Smoke DZA released a mixtape titled Ringside 2, the second installment in his wrestling-inspired Ringside EP series. Production was handled his by fellow R.F.C. member 183rd, with features from Peter Rosenberg, then WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston, Aston Matthews and Flatbush Zombies.
On December 2, 2016, he and Pete Rock released "Don't Smoke Rock" and song "Limitless" in October.
Musical style and influences
Smoke cites fellow New York natives Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G. as his main influences. As an adolescent he would use their songs and write his own lyrics, helping him learn rhyming patterns."I used to re-write Biggie. It started with 'Mo Money, Mo Problems.' I would switch up the words, make it my own." He has also cited fellow Harlem rappers like Mase, Big L and Dipset as influences and inspiration. Though he is often mistakenly classified as a weed rapper, Smoke considers himself a lifestyle rapper and prefers not to be confined to one genre of rap. DZA's albums and mixtapes often feature many collaborative tracks. DZA says he enjoys collaborating with fellow artists like Dom Kennedy and Kendrick Lamar as he feels it helps him "step his ball game up" in terms of his craft.
- Rolling Stoned (2011)
- Rugby Thompson (2012)
- Dream. Zone. Achieve (2014)
- He Has Risen (2016)
- Don't Smoke Rock (with Pete Rock) (2016)
- Not for Sale (2018)
- KingVanGogh. "Digiwaxx TV and @PhotosbyRome Present: A Conversation with @SmokeDZA". Video. The Blast By DIGWAXX. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
- Pomellis, Ayarra. "Smoke DZA Interview: "Rolling Stoned"". Raw Roots. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "Video: Smoke DZA Interview with Angela Yee". Nah Right. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- Thisis50Tv. "TI50: Smoke DZA Says His Name Came From The Movie "Friday" & LA Has The Best Weed". Thisis50.com. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- Marrack, Peter. "Interview: Smoke DZA". The Marrack. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Marrack, Peter. "The Interview with Smoke DZA". Respect Magazine. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Markman, Rob. "Fire Starter: Smoke DZA". MTV. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Black, Bobby. "2011 Doobie Awards Round Up". High Times. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Diep, Eric. "Album Stream:Smoke DZA "Rugby Thompson"". Complex Magazine. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Badami, Anthony. "Discovery Smoke DZA". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Hardy, Jasmine. "Smoke DZA "Dream.ZONE.Achieve" Release Date, Cover Art & Tracklist". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved 2014-03-06.
- James, Nicolas. "Smoke DZA - Ringside 2 EP (Prod. By 183rd)". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- Don't Smoke Rock
- Badami, Anthony. "Discovery: Smoke DZA". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- Copastetik, Cris. "Smoke DZA Talks "Rolling Stoned" Reviews". Deal with No Deal. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Smoke DZA Interview with Good*Fella Media". video. FreshGrind.com. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- Meara, Paul. "Smoke DZA Interview". TheMearaBlog.com. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "He Has Risen by Smoke DZA on iTunes". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "Don't Smoke Rock by Smoke DZA & Pete Rock on Apple Music". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2016-11-01.