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S.A. Smash - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Smashed and Trashed

If you look at the cover of S.A. Smash's debut album "Smashy Trashy", you may think that it is a rock album. Even though they are a hip-hop group, S.A. Smash has the same attitude, energy, and partying endurance as any rock band out there. Consisting of Camu Tao and Metro, S.A. Smash met up in Columbus, Ohio. They immediately began writing together and drinking together.

Camu Tao has been known for his incredible beats and production work with The Weathermen, Mhz, and some of his work on Eastern Conference Records. He produced beats for Tame-One and many others. Together, Camu and Metro did something that no one expected. They signed to El-P's Definitive Jux label. Def Jux has deep, well-thought out, extremely innovative, creative, sometimes bizarre hip-hop that many stereotypical backpackers love. Mr. Lif, RJD2, C Rayz Walz are all part of the Def Jux family.

So how does the constant drinking and partying of S.A. Smash fit in with eccentric and astute Def Jux? It's all hip-hop! Definitive Jux is one of the most original and innovative hip-hop labels around today and they are not afraid to take chances. S.A. Smash may not be the typical Def Jux group, but they are hip-hop. Their debut album "Smashy Trashy" is filled with themes ranging from alcohol, sex, women, alcohol, drugs, clubbing, dancing, and more alcohol. Guests include Cage, Vast Aire, and Aesop Rock. While Camu Tao handles most of the production, some of the beats are provided by El-P, PRZM, Ese & Hiptsa and others. On a hot summer night in August, I had conversation with both Metro and Camu. We talked about drugs, sex, hip-hop, Def Jux, waking up in strange places. and much more.

S.A. Smash is for the people who aren't afraid to get loose. They want you to wild out. They want you to party. With hip-hop beats, they can party and rock even harder than most rock stars today. They are bringing the fun back into hip-hop music while bringing it to the gutter at the same time. It's decadent. It's wild. It's dangerous. It's dirty. It's smashy trashy.

MVRemix: Your new album is called 'Smash Trashy'. Tell us about it? Who is on it? Who produced it?

Metro: 'Smash Trashy' is our debut album as S.A. Smash together, Metro and Camu. It's just songs that we put together, songs that we enjoy. It's a party album for the most part but it's really just that fun hip-hop, that real sh*t. It's that take us back to the basics type shit.

MVRemix: Can you explain the title a bit?

Camu Tao: It's obvious. 'Smashy Trashy'. It's straight trashy. It's straight back to some gutter, real sh*t.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on 'Smash Trashy'?

Camu Tao: All of them! I love every single one of them.
Metro: My favorite is 'Spot Tonight' because that's my jewel for all of my homies.
Camu Tao: 'Spot Tonight' is your favorite? Alright, I'll say that 'A.A.' is my favorite.

MVRemix: My favorite is 'Love To F*ck'.

Metro: That's a favorite too. That's a good one.
Camu Tao: I'm out here trying to live that song now. (Laughs)

MVRemix: Camu Tao, how did you first get into making beats?

Camu Tao: I started making beats in 9th grade. I was probably like 16 and I was doing beats in my man's crib. He had a Sonic Mirage and he had this sampler. I would sample in his crib and record it, trying to do beats. I got into the keyboard first. Then, the rest is what you have.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite drum machine / sampler?

Camu Tao: Yeah, MPC-3000 and the MPC-2000."

MVRemix: How did you get the name S.A. Smash? What does it mean? What does the 'S.A.' stand for?

Metro: What's today? Tuesday? Today 'S.A.' stands for 'Supreme Allah'. That's today's mathematics. Alright?
Camu Tao: This is actually the story, we were high one day and we were looking at a newspaper. You know the music and electronics store Sam Ash, right? I looked at it wrong and was like 'What's that say? SA Smash?' We started laughing and we thought it was funny. 'S.A. Smash'! That sh*t was hot. We thought that it sounded like a gutter *ss rock group or some sh*t. Like a rock group or a biker gang. That's the vibe of it basically, man.
Metro: We're like rock cats but we do hip-hop.
Camu Tao: We like hanging out with the rock cats too.
Metro: I'm all about rock and roll chicks, oh!

MVRemix: Speaking of rock and roll chicks, who is the woman on your album cover? Did you meet her or know her?

Metro: Yeah, that's our people, Melissa.
Camu Tao: Yeah, Melissa is a good lady, good people, good girl.

MVRemix: In one phrase or sentence, how would you describe growing up in Columbus, Ohio?

Camu Tao: Gutter.
Metro: My Ohio experience is like this. Things are crazy there. We're like in the middle and sh*t. Stuff floods in from everywhere. It's pretty grimy. It's hard living but if you can get your sh*t together, than it can be good. It's a working town, a college town. It's like an hour away from Cincinnati.
Camu Tao: J. Rawls is my man!

MVRemix: What is MHz?

Metro: The other Megahertz jacked our name.
Camu Tao: We've been Megahertz since like 1990. MHz is Copywrite, me, Jakki The Motor mouth, RJD2, and Tage Prototype.

MVRemix: There are tons of alcohol references on 'Smash Trashy'. Do you have a favorite alcoholic beverage?

Camu Tao: I'm more of a beer man myself. Give me the Papst Blue Ribbon. I'm gonna get PBR tattoed on my chest
Metro: Give me some smashy trashy sh*t! Give me some Steel Reserve!

MVRemix: The song 'Get Home' is about getting too wasted. What happened the last time something like that happened?

Metro: This is a real good story. I go to Piano's. 9 or 10 o'clock came. I literally blacked out for four hours. I woke up on the corner of 9th and White at 3-4 in the morning. I honestly don't know what happened. I heard that I was a pretty wild boy that night.
Camu Tao: Basically it's a song true to our experiences. I woke up on my man's front porch with a coat on my head. After I woke up, I wrote that verse. It ain't a whole lot of sh*t to do out there but cats out there, they drink and sh*t. So, we drink too.

MVRemix: Why did you choose Definitive Jux?

Metro: They are our people! We kicked around ideas for like a year or two. I did some joints for Rough Draft, they liked it. I told El-P that he should hear some of our new sh*t. We weren't pitching it. We were just telling him that he should check it out. He heard it and was like 'Yo, dog! I'll put that sh*t out'. Later, we kicked around ideas and came up with songs.

MVRemix: You guys aren't the typical Def Jux group.

Metro: Well that's obvious man!

MVRemix: Do you get much prejudice because you are not like the typical Def Jux group?

Metro: Yeah, we do but the thing is, it's hip-hop music. There ain't any guidelines for hip-hop music. We kick it, man! El-P is our man! We hang out with this dude all the time. Some random cats are like 'How are you guys friends and sh*t? Listen to the difference in your music!' It's all hip-hop music! We respect his sh*t, he respects our sh*t. So, naturally, we just put it together. He's our man, 50 grand. We were going to put this album out regardless but he wanted to put it out. If some of the typical Jux fans don't get into it, f*ck em! We're going to open it up for new ones.
Camu Tao: That's what's really good!

MVRemix: What was one of the first hip-hop songs you fell in love with?

Camu Tao: I have to say Big Daddy Kane's 'Ain't No Half Stepping'.
Metro: I lived in between 2 houses. One was a coke dealer and the other was a marijuana dealer's house. My man who sold the weed would always stand on his front porch with big ass speakers, pumping Run-Dmc, 'You talk too much! Homebody, you never shut up!' That got me open. That was just my phrase. That and Kool Moe Dee.

MVRemix: How did you two meet and form S.A. Smash?

Metro: We're man 50 grand. We're from the same city, good people. My older brother, Flip, the early riser. Big up to him because he'll be out soon. It was just the scene in Columbus, Ohio. Cats work with each other. They connect and respect each other's sh*t. I was doing my solo sh*t for a while, running with some other cats who were jerking me around. Camu came back and I was like 'Let's do this sh*t! I got some lyrics! Let's do some songs.' It was history.

MVRemix: Camu, as a producer, who are some of your major influences?

Camu Tao: I would say Premier is a major influence. Early Tribe Called Quest. The stuff that Ali Shaheed did. He was really a big influence. Pete Rock, Timbaland. I love Timbaland. I also like Rza. Rza is one of my favorites.

MVRemix: As emcees, who are some of your major influences?

Camu Tao: Special Ed, Big Daddy Kane, Run-Dmc, Tribe Called Quest, Black Moon, Buckshot.
Metro: The whole Boot Camp Clik. And don't forget the Wu!

MVRemix: Do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?

Metro: We do it both.
Camu Tao: Yeah, we do it both. Sometimes, we do it both at the same time. Sometimes, I will come in, throw a beat on and we'll write on the spot. A lot of times, we write on the spot. Sometimes, we come in with stuff already worked out.

MVRemix: The song 'Love To F*ck' is one of my favorites. And me, I love to f*ck too! Which is your favorite sexual position?

Metro: I'm all about getting back-shot so I can make dumb faces and they can't see me. (Laughs). I know Camu's favorite. Camu likes to look em in the face.
Camu Tao: That's called a joystick. (Laughs).

MVRemix: You have done many collaborations. What collaboration are you most proud if?

Camu Tao: 'Slide On Em' with Vast Aire.

MVRemix: What emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Metro: Ghostface. I got some people who are working on hooking up some sh*t with Ghost. I want to do some sh*t with Redman, some wild out sh*t with Busta Rhymes. Also, even Ashanti.
Camu Tao: I want to do a joint with Too Short. That would be fun.

MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?
Camu Tao: I was in a spot in Williamsburg. It was some kind of diner spot. I'm chilling, eating chicken wings. These two old Italian people come in, a lady and a man. They sit next to me and look over at me. He's like mean mugging me for like two whole minutes. I look over at him and he just goes, 'Hmmmmm'. He gets up and moves his wife like 4 tables away from us. I laughed. I ate my chicken wings, paid money, just like he did and I left. I'm a Republican. I'm going into politics. I love em!

MVRemix: Abortion - pro-life or pro-choice?

Metro: Don't answer that, man! You don't want to spread your political views.
Camu Tao: Nah, their good.
Metro: This is where me and Camu are kind of different.
Camu Tao: I'm pro-life and pro-choice because you're a human being and an individual. Only you should have the right to make that choice. You have to deal with whatever the consequences are.

MVRemix: What CD or LP has been in your CD player or turntable recently?
Camu Tao: The CD 'H.N.I.C.' by Prodigy, 'Supreme Clientele' by Ghostface, Viktor Vaughn ('Vaudeville Villain'), and the Tame-One joint. They need to quite sleeping on Tame-One, he's a God!

MVRemix: Drug of choice?
Metro: Ones that are free and that won't have me butt naked on top of the Empire State Building at 2:30 in the morning.
Camu Tao: I think p*ssy is my drug of choice.

MVRemix: What do you think hip-hop needs these days?
Metro: S.A. Smash. It needs us. It needs Independent n*ggas! It needs us to get radio play without breaking our pockets.
Camu Tao: Hip-hop needs what hip-hop needs, man. People say it's in a bad state or people say it's in a good state. It's where it's at. It's growing and it has got to go where it has got to go. It should be connected. Everything and everybody should be connected. It shouldn't be at a point where you are running into firewalls where cats aren't letting you in without the password or 50 g's.

MVRemix: Tell us about the new LP from The Weathermen.
Camu Tao: It's confidential. I don't want to go into that. I want to make them sweat for that. The Weathermen right now is a mystery.

MVRemix: Camu Tao, you produced some songs for Tame-One. How did you hook up with him and what was that collaboration like?
Camu Tao: E.C., Eastern Conference Records signed Tame. We're all drug addicts so Tame and I bugged out. We would build, share stories. We have history. That's my man.

MVRemix: Camu, when you are making beats, how does marijuana or alcohol affect the creative process? Does it sometimes inhibit your creativity or enhance it?
Camu Tao: Whatever drug I'm on or if I'm drinking, I'm in whatever state. I could be completely trashed and do some hot sh*t or do some straight trash and throw it away and start over an hour later. You are in a mode and that's the way you react to whatever mode you're in. I don't think anything enhances or takes away from the creativity.

MVRemix: Metro, on a lyrical level, how does marijuana or alcohol affect the creative process? Does it sometimes inhibit your creativity or enhance it?
Metro: On some lyrical sh*t, it's straight from the heart. It ain't about drugs. It's about being inspired.

MVRemix: Would you say that there are a lot of drugs in the hip-hop scene?
Metro: There are a lot of drugs in America! Everywhere! It's not just the hip-hop scene. There are some rockers out here who are cracked out!

MVRemix: What city did you see the most drugs in?
Camu Tao: I think it's the same everywhere. If you have money to pay, you have money to play.

MVRemix: Word association time. I'm going to say a name of a group/emcee and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say 'Chuck D', you may say 'Revolution'. Okay?
Camu Tao: Alright.

MVRemix: Redman

Metro: Ill.
Camu Tao: The best.

MVRemix: Eminem

Metro: White.
Camu Tao: Good. He's really good.

MVRemix: Jay-Z

Metro: The king.
Camu Tao: Immobile.

MVRemix: 50 Cent

Metro: Big teeth.
Camu Tao: Very lucky, congratulations.

MVRemix: Phife Dawg

Metro: Short.
Camu Tao: Short.

MVRemix: Common

Metro: Fag.
Camu Tao: Crackhead.

MVRemix: George Bush

Metro: My hero.
Camu Tao: The biggest gangster on the planet. Big gangster.

MVRemix: What classic hip-hop song would you like to remake?

Camu Tao: I would say something by EPMD. If they say that I can't do something by EMPD, I'd just try to make my own.
Metro: EPMD's 'Crossover'. That's hot.
Camu Tao: Yeah, that is hot. Shut up.
Metro: F*ck you!
Camu Tao: You n*gga! (Laughs)

MVRemix: What is the biggest misconception people have of you?

Camu Tao: They think that we are just about partying but it ain't really like that. We worked hard to get this sh*t out and establish ourselves. They just think that we're on some bullsh*t but we are really here to stay. Honestly, I don't think people take us seriously.
Metro: They have to take it seriously but it fun. It is kind of like when somebody is addicted to drugs. They don't believe it. 'Oh, naw, I'm not addicted.' Or they are like 'Naw, I'm not hungry' when they want to eat.

MVRemix: What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career?

Metro: Not coming out 5 years ago.
Camu Tao: I don't think we have made any mistakes. Not yet.

MVRemix: When did you guys officially become a group?

Metro: Well, me and Mu have done joints back and forth about 3 or 4 years ago. Last time he came back to Ohio, I stepped to him. I had lyrics. He had beats. We instantly became a group officially.

MVRemix: What's in the future for S.A. Smash?

Camu Tao: Around September 15th, we're dropping an EP everywhere. It's not definite yet but it will be around that time. There will be more drinking, living life, trying to create sh*t. Take care of the kids. You may see a platinum boom box out there.
Metro: We're gonna keep making hot music.

MVRemix: More and more hip-hop artists (especially Mr. Lif on Def Jux) have been or are releasing EPs more. Why do you think people are releasing EPs instead of LPs?

Camu Tao: EPs are good because it puts out something fresh and new and they don't take that long to finish. It's basically a half of an album. You can pump them out. You can do 6 songs real quick, get more promotion and have a solid piece of work.
Metro: It's just a way to get more music out there without having to commit to a whole album.

MVRemix: Any final words for the people who are reading this?

Metro: Please support that sh*t, man! Support that sh*t. I got to say this. Don't be one of those motherf*ckers in the show that are too cool. Get loose, man! If you feel that sh*t, wild out! Show these motherf*ckers that you feel that sh*t. As a performer, we want the energy. The more energy, the better. Everything is good when everything is positive.
Camu Tao: There's nothing wrong with supporting it. It's all good.
Metro: Come f*ck with your boys!

Related content:
  • Mr. Lif 2000 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Cage 2000 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Aesop Rock 2002 Interview by Saadiq
  • Vast Aire 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • S.A. Smash 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Aesop Rock 2006 Interview by Alex Goldberg
  • Mr. Lif 2006 Interview by Alex Goldberg
  • Mr. Lif 2006 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • El-P 2007 Interview by Josh Potter

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