Behind the Beats: Smimooz
First and foremost, who is Smimooz and where does he reside? How long have you been making beats?
I was born in 1973 in a normal family. Smimooz means "excellent" in Arabic, it's a name my friends gave me in 1989 because they really appreciate what I do with the music. I live in the north side of Brussels in a hood named Skaarbeek, near by the centre, an area that use to be ruled by the laws of heroin and organized crime in the 80s and the 90s. Brussels is a crossroad and used to be one of the worst places to live in Europe because of its high level of unemployment. I grew up in these hostile streets full of threats, and started to make beats on cheap equipment in early 1987 to escape!
Together with Sozyone Gonzalez and Rayer we've create the first indie rap group in Belgium in 1991 called DE PUTA MADRE (which means 'HYPE' for Spanish people). As we were starting to tour the country we were in need of a good DJ to spin for the shows, so we got to meet Dj Grazzhoppa who had just won the European DMC championship.
Your biography states that you were one of the first beatmakers to start using samplers in the French part of Europe. How does it feel to be a trendsetter?
I don't really feel like one to be honest cuz, to me I was just trying to do what people like Marley Marl or Prince Paul were doing, it's just that FRENCH RAP was only starting in PARIS. I'm old school for the French but I feel a part of the new school when it comes to the globe you see? The reason why I kept on doing my stuff is that I could hear that it was coming out pretty fresh compared to what was out at that time. So I started to trust my skills and decided that I wanted to produce records.
What is your relationship with Dj Grazzhoppa and when did you first link up with him?
I met Grazz in 1991 when we were looking for a DJ to back us up for some shows and after a few times we really hooked up because of our influences and background with hip hop music. We became very good friends, he makes me laugh a lot, he's that kind of guy you'll never have a problem with! Grazz is my bro! and the only guy I can work on music with!
You have been a part of various crews or collectives during your career as a beatmaker. I believe that crews or groups provide an upper hand because the focus is on the advancement of the unit as opposed to individualized marketing. How beneficial is it to be apart of crews or groups?
Yeah the thing is that artistically it's good to have both, to work as a part of a collective project or to work solo...both are interesting, and you must adapt your style or you create one. It's all nothing but pleasure! Now if the collective you're working with is very active and works well with promo and stuff it's always a plus. fo sho!
Describe your style of production to the masses. What are some tips that you can provide to the up and comers?
Questions like this I like because I'm very selective with my music, I respect any work but to me there are two kinds of people, those who know how to paint a wall and those who are gonna make the wall look amazing with lots of good ideas and talent. Both can paint a wall but there's a difference still! It's the very same with music, a lot of people can program shit, but to program with style is much harder!
Personally, I always try to sound like the JB's, but I'd say that old boom bap from N.Y. is still the shit to me.
My best tip would be "stay focused, work your brain off and know THE music, ALL the music!", without knowledge you can't make it, oh yeah and don't sound "ambient trip hop" if you want to sound "underground hip hop", it's all very specific. Stay critical of yourself, don't be like "this beat is pretty good, for me doing it...I'm more or less happy with it..."
Who would you like to work with in the future and why?
You know I grew up listening to rap legends from the East to the West. 70s, 80s, 90s and now, there are a lot of people out there! right now I'm working with a bunch of talented people. Artists from America, Africa and Europe and languages that span from English, French, Spanish to even Wolov (official language in Senegal). I'm quite known in some places but it's hard to thrive with products that are not formatted. Maybe I should look a bit more like Justin Timberlake if I want more success in the future. I've got kids to raise so I wanna be the next beatmaker! Prince is gonna want to work with me! haha.
What projects are you currently working on?
I just hooked up with an old DE PUTA MADRE fan who's working with a few companies and wants to press vinyls. We're waiting for the test pressings of our first release which is the first DE PUTA MADRE LP, une ball dans la tête, that came out on CD in 1995. The next pressing is going to be an EP produced by Grazz and myself but I can't really tell more about it...it's CIA top secret!
How can the masses get in contact with you?
email@example.com, can't get more universal.
Any Final Thoughts?
Never take yourself too seriously! Keep it up!