24hourhiphop.com gets a chance to sit down with London rapper rap Smokee.Smokee is an upcoming artist on the rise in the music industry. Smokee tells us about how he came up, also life growing up in his neighborhood. We also learn about Smokee’s musical influences, current projects out, and future projects. We also get to check out a dope video for his single “Rubber Band Pops” as well. Make sure to check out Smokee and let us know what you think!
24HHH: Introduce yourself to everyone that doesn’t already know who you are?
Smokee: Im Smokee, real name Simon Leigh, 28 years old from Harrow in London. I am an underground rapper from England and have been making music for 10 years.
I spent 5 years perfecting my skills and then started making mixtapes to get my lyrics together on songs and doing shows at local rap clubs. My music reflects the experiences I had growing up in the UK and the people I associated with over the years, some are dead and some in jail. The only one’s who made it are the one’s that left crime behind.
Last couple of years I have been looking for producers to work with to make hip hop that I see as real but with commercial appeal. I hooked up with a London rap producer called ZDot who was signed to Warner. He had a beat on his mixtape called Range Rover and I used it for my first single called Rubber Band Pops, which is out now on iTunes.
24HHH: How did you come up with your Producer/Artist name? Tell us about it.
Smokee: I was listening to The Chronic 2001 and Nate Dogg said ‘Smoke weed every day’, and I did. This was 13 years ago and I think it has made me a better person. If more people took a time out and had a joint instead of making the wrong move in life they would be better off. I’m high right now.
24HHH: Where are you from, and what was it like growing up there?
Smokee: Im from London, there’s not many good rappers from around here because the UK scene is influenced by grime and simplistic flows. The kind of flows UK rappers think are good, Grandmaster Flash thought were out-dated. I brought a Nas and Big L influenced sound to the UK so set myself apart from the crowd. Growing up I got stopped by cops more times than I can remember, my friends have been put in jail for dealing and most of them are junkies or thugs. That’s the reality of who I grew up with. I knew I had more to contribute than they did so I gave it up and focused on my music.
24HHH: Who were you raised by? Tell us your family situation. Got any brothers, sisters, or any siblings? Tell us about your childhood, and how it impacted your music?
Smokee: My mum died when I was 7 and I was raised by my dad. I was raised with a no bullshit attitude. My dad only cared about success and I just wanted people to hear my music and do something that represented me. He never supported my music, it was all me. I don’t have any family in music or any connections, I got where I am because I didn’t give up and didn’t listen to the haters. I also haven’t seen my brother Michael for over 10 years, if your reading this and it’s you – get it touch!
24HHH: What age did you start making music?
Smokee: 17-18 – you have to have lived a bit before you start writing rhymes, otherwise what do you have to rap about?
24HHH: What inspired you to pursue making music?
Smokee: Big L, Biggie and 2pac was dead and I had this ability to rhyme better than anyone around me. I didn’t have any rappers apart from Nas to look up to and he was getting old, even when I started rapping. I realized that in 5-6 years there will be no one who can actually rap in the UK. When I started rapping, because the top rappers were dead they were like these untouchable legends. You couldn’t ever see them live, they lived through their music. There was something eternal about that that appealed to me. There were some good UK rappers I looked up to like Kalashnikov but they never did more than one or two songs that go out there. The scene was wide open.
24HHH: What artists/producers do you work with? Or rubbed shoulders with?
Smokee: ZDot, CDot, DJ Q, Nait, Juno Watt, Lion but I’m always on the look out for new producers to work with..
24HHH: What else you got coming out? New Album? or Mixtape/EP?
Smokee: My new song is called Rubber Band Pops (produced by ZDot) and is out now on iTunes. I also got it remixed by DJQ and that is also out now. Next week I’m dropping a new One Love remix for free download. This is a 24 HourHipHop exclusive. Download my last mixtape Planet Of The 8th’s Vol.1 on my site http://smokee.uk.com
24HHH: Tell us about your newest single “Rubber Band Pops”, how did you come up with that, share us the story?
Smokee: It’s an expression, stacking em notes, until the rubber band pops. Until the rubber band pops because it’s stuffed with so many notes it just bursts. I got it from Breaking Bad, Jessy says it in one of the episodes. He made it a hot line, I made it a hot song.
Check out Smokee – Rubber Band Pops (Official Music Video)
24HHH: Any new travel plans, what you got going on?
Smokee: I hooked up with some local promoters recently so I’m looking to start performing Rubber Band Pops around the city. I would be crazy to perform in Amsterdam.
24HHH: What is the biggest thing to happen in your career?
Smokee: Being interviewed on the DJ Target show on BBC Radio 1 Xtra last week. I was also added to the playlist and had my first song Rubber Band Pops played all week. Getting to speak live on the radio was sick, everyone I know was listening and it was a good feeling.
24HHH: Where can people find you?
Smokee: Search online for ‘Smokee’,
my website http://smokee.uk.com,
Facebook http://facebook.com/SmokeeRapper and
and here is the iTunes download link:
show me love!
24HHH: Where do you see yourself going in 2014 and how do you plan to separate yourself from the other artist out today to get the recognition you feel you deserve?
Smokee: I’m never going to release a wack song. That’s a promise. I don’t need the money, I got money. If I make music, it’s because I think that’s a good song. That’s the main way I separate myself from other artists today.
24HHH: Any last words or shout outs?
Smokee: Yeh I’d like to shout out my girl Denise, my man Mitch from Mi7, ZDot, Austin, Natalie Peyton, my dad for never believing in me and of course God for keeping me alive and helping me get to a point where I wear a 21 Karat gold chain around my neck that’s so long I don’t even need to undo it to take it off.