If asked to come up with a hip-hop act characteristic of ‘90s East Coast grit and grime, those who are knowledgeable of the genre’s deep-rooted lineage would find difficulty looking past Brooklyn’s very own, Smif-N-Wessun. The dynamic duo–consisting of partners in rhyme, Steele and Tek—have long been considered lyrical lynchpins of true New York rap, and in many ways offer poetic insight into the lives of two veteran vanguards keen on providing a soundtrack to the streets. Outside of their Smif-N-Wessun moniker, the pair were key members of Boot Camp Clik alongside Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. Together, the Duck Down Records mega group formed to create one super entity, reciting stories rife with feudal clapbacks and cultural Patois inflections that were indicative of their rough and tumble upbringing.
First catching a spotlight on Black Moon’s 1993 album Enta da Stage, Tek and Steele blessed the tracks “Blac Smif-N-Wessun” and “U Da Man,” effectively laying the groundwork for the release of Dah Shinin’. The album successfully mirrored what played out in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville neighborhoods, with both members spitting out bars overrun with overt shrewdness. Smif-N-Wessun let the pen go loose on “Bucktown” and “Wrekonize,” while switching up their Gemini-style back-and-forth flow for a reggae-riddled rhyme pattern on “Sound Bwoy Bureill.”
First released over a quarter century ago, the iconic rap duo honored the release of Dah Shinin’ with a sharp-witted remix of their lead single “Bucktown.” “Bucktown 360” is a 25-year-old love letter to Brooklyn and can be looked at as the group’s coming home, full circle moment. On that note, Smif-N-Wessun chose to honor the project’s historic timeline by aligning with our parent company, UCL, to create their commemorative “Bucktown 360” capsule collection. The joint offering is considered to be the very first AI-generated collaborative capsule collection, bringing the worlds of fashion, hip-hop and artificial intelligence together on the same stage.
To create the designs, Smif-N-Wessun worked with our artificial intelligence platform to create graphics central to who they are as hip-hop pioneers by paying homage, not only to their hometown of Brooklyn, but to their groundbreaking album. To activate the artificial intelligence hub, images of Tek and Steele were fed into the mainframe, along with various snapshots of Brooklyn. As an added layer of creative depth, their song “Bucktown 360” was also inputted into the hub, which was then used to elevate the system’s design sensitivities. As a result, the collection perfectly captures who Smiff-N-Wessun are as subcultural creators, and respectfully pays reverence to the group’s milestone album. In a county of Kings, Brooklyn wears the crown.
Catch a full look at the collection online at UCX.
Photography: Phillip Shung