A proud and integral part of the Brooklyn supergroup Boot Camp Clik, Smif-N-Wessun (also known as Cocoa Brovaz) is a celebrated hip-hop duo consisting of heavyweight emcees Tek (Tekomin Williams) and Steele (Darrell Yaters). The pair first made their presence known on wax in 1993, appearing on the collaborative tracks “U Da Man” and “Blac Smif-N-Wessun”—both of which were featured on Black Moon’s classic debut album, Enta da Stage. The following year, Dru Ha and Boot Camp Clik member Buckshot founded Duck Down, recruiting Smif-N-Wessun as their first act and securing the group a deal with Nervous Records. In early 1994, Smif-N-Wessun landed their first underground smash, “Bucktown,” with the single catapulting the group to every hip-hop fan’s radar and creating a healthy momentum prior to their formal debut. Their first studio full-length, Dah Shinin, was released in January 1995, going on to sell over 300,000 copies and appearing in the top 5 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The Beatminerz-produced album has since been heralded as one of the most influential hardcore rap records to come out of New York City in the mid-1990s, with their harsh, spitfire rhymes and dark-but-melodic approach helping spark an important renaissance period for hip-hop.
Soon after the group’s debut, Smif-N-Wessun was hit with a cease and desist order over their name from firearms company Smith & Wesson. As a way to avoid the lawsuit, the group changed their alias to the Cocoa Brovaz, with their new moniker as a nod to their West Indian heritage. The pair went on to collaborate with Tupac on the unreleased album, One Nation, as well as joined Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. in 1997 for Boot Camp Clik’s debut album, For the People. The next year, Tek and Steele released The Rude Awakening, their second album together (and their first as Cocoa Brovaz). Together under their new name, the duo were featured on a variety of compilation albums, including Soundbombing II (1999), Lyricist Lounge Volume 2 (2000), and Sound Bombing III (2002), as well as collaborated with Gangstarr Foundation member Afu-Ra (“D&D Sound Clash”), Talib Kweli (“Gunn Music”), Tony Touch (“Spanish Harlem 2”) and also had a cameo in the “I Miss You” tribute video for Aaliyah. Additionally in 2000, Tek and Steele rejoined the Boot Camp Clik on their sophomore record, The Chosen Few. In 2003, Tek and Steele founded their own label, Bucktown USA Entertainment. Through their imprint, Tek and Steele have released a full-length compilation, Glory, as well as several solo projects including Tek’s AmeriKKKa’s Nightmare (2004), I Got This (2006) and Steele’s First Famlee (2004). The group scored a legal victory in 2005, earning the rights to reclaim the Smif-N-Wessun name. To celebrate their rightful return, they released their third album Smif-N-Wessun: Reloaded that same year. In 2006, the Boot Camp Clik released their third group project, The Last Stand, with the next year seeing Smif-N-Wessun’s fourth album, Smif-N-Wessun: The Album. Four years later, in 2011, the group released Monumental with legendary producer Pete Rock (who produced a majority of the project). In 2013, the duo released a reggae-inspired EP, Born and Raised, and today remains active on the live performance and guest appearance fronts.