2SMOOV Takes The Law Into His Own Hands
Upcoming Boston artist 2Smoov reflects on the origins of his budding career, which includes his humble beginnings, his use of music as a creative escape from the world around him, and his aspirations to give back to his community while uplifting the next generation of artists.
The frantic unbuckling of his seatbelt followed by the abrupt cut off of the car engine meant that something was wrong for David Jean-Jacques.
"Somebody just drove by and shone a flashlight at my crib," he said with a twinge of suspicion. "I'm about to go question them real quick."
The phone camera went dark as a few muffled exchanges ensued. Moments later, the 29-year-old returned.
"It was just a delivery guy," he chuckled. "He was trying to see the numbers on the house."
Jean-Jacques -"you gotta say it with a little French-Haitian accent"- flashed a grin, his teeth illuminating the darkness of the car, though not from his signature gold grills, which the rapper confided he recently lost.
I found myself grinning back.
It had taken some time, but I was finally able to catch up with Boston-bred artist, who goes by the moniker 2Smoov due to his innate ability to "handle crazy situations," something he was all too familiar with.
2Smoov was born on December 20, 1991 in Dorchester, Boston to Haitian parents. Two minutes later, he was joined by his twin sister.
"Me and my twin sister Danielle, we done went through everything together, you know," he said. "I went to school with her from [kindergarten] all the way to fifth grade. We went to a public school called Patrick O'Hearn, and I learned a lot about myself and a lot about her there since we had a lot of our first experiences at the same time."
However, their time in school together was cut short due to Danielle's condition.
"After a while, they gave her a year behind to catch up with her capabilities and cognitive skills because she has down syndrome," the Boston native revealed. "If I was born two minutes later, I could have been born the same way, who knows? But regardless, I'm proud to be a brother, a twin brother, because not a lot of people can say that."
"I became compassionate and humble at a young age because I learned that everybody's life is not the same. Everybody learns differently and goes through different things," he continued. "Who am I to judge somebody else or feel like I'm better than somebody else? Because we all need the same things at the end of the day. The simple things."
While his sister's condition was the root of his kind nature, it soon became the reason 2Smoov often had to throw compassion out the classroom window.
"I grew up fast because I owe a lot of who I am to her," he said. "Just having someone who's the same age as me, the same blood as me who came out on the same day, it's something special. So when I was in school with Danielle, I was very protective of her. I never wanted anyone to say the word 'retarded' or make jokes about people with mental disabilities because I realized that could've been me."
"I love my sister to death," the rapper went on firmly. "She's very caring, she's funny, she has a slick attitude and a funny sense of humor. She's a very caring person. So [her condition] made me grow up fast. I became a man very early and I became hard because if anybody said anything, I would want to fight. I had such an issue with people because they just couldn't understand my life."
The Boston native quickly realized that his life was drastically different from his peers, even more so when he soon became one of the main men of the house after his parents divorced, leaving the then 14-year-old and his four other siblings with their single mother.
"It's not easy supporting five kids. My mother was originally the breadwinner while my pops took care of the crib or he was out. Then, my parents divorced when I was in seventh or eighth grade."
With his father no longer in the picture, the future artist took on more responsibility to keep his family together, while also defining his sense of purpose in life.
"That also made me grow up faster. Just feeling like me and my brothers had to be the men of the house because my pops wasn't there after a while," he went on. "He ended up moving to Florida. But even when he was here, he wasn't the dad that was very providing. He was kinda just strict and big on principles. So that made me tough and made me want to just go out and get it myself."
"I also became self-reliant. I learned a lot from that, so you gotta take the good with the bad. A lot of things shaped me growing up. My family, my sister's disability, music, my environment, having to take the train from Dorchester all the way to Cambridge to my Catholic high school. On top of that, just being Black in America in the hood, we got our own obstacles we have to face."
As 2Smoov adjusted to his newfound position as the family patriarch, the young rapper was also forced to navigate daily through Dorchester's crime ridden streets.
Named one the most dangerous cities to live in Boston, Dorchester is one of the biggest towns in the state, and is a melting pot of different cultures and racial backgrounds.
While the artist described his city as "the hood with some nice parts," he also revealed that Dorchester is home to gang activity, a lifestyle he continues to avoid.
"Growing up, they had Crips and Bloods, Piru, they had people banging different sets, repping different colors...Some of the neighborhoods had beef with other neighborhoods that were only five, ten minutes down the street. It was a lot going on."
Despite the streets constantly calling, the rapper never answered, his heightened sense of self-awareness and his leadership qualities keeping him on the opposite side of the block.
"I always felt like I was a leader, and I never needed to join a random gang to feel protected or to solidify myself," he said. "All of my friends, I call them gang, I call them family. I always just try to have some solid people that I know if shit went down, they'd fight for me just like I'd fight for them. I didn't have to get jumped into a gang to feel down and a part of something."
"There are a lot of gangs still out here, no disrespect to what they're doing," the rapper went on, "but I stand on my own two. I had some beef, I had some tension here and there growing up in the streets, right across the street from me actually. But that's in the past. I'm still here in Dorchester just making it happen."
One thing 2Smoov recently made happen was his debut album, Lawless Lingo, this past December.
Consisting of songs that narrate the rapper's personal trials and tribulations sprinkled with the occasional party anthem, the Boston-native said he wanted to "get a good mix of everything" for his first album.
"Real life situations have always been most of my inspiration," he said. "I wanted to get a good mix of everything, so I thought about the moods I've been feeling. The moods determine where I'm going with the music."
"Gotta make a song about a female, so that's always a mood I go for too," he continued. "Lit vibes, substance, songs for the ladies, random freestyles, all depending on my mood."
The release of his debut album prompted the upcoming rapper to make more music, and now has some new projects underway.
"I want more people to know my story. I'm usually not the type to tell people all my personal life, but it feels great to have music that people can enjoy, that people can relate to, and that gets people through tough times," 2Smoov said. "It's a dope way to make people feel good."
Music had been a staple in the rapper's life since childhood, with listening to rap quickly becoming a favorite pastime for 2Smoov and his siblings.
"I was always into music growing up," he recounted. "We used to play different types of rap, Jadakiss, Styles P, the whole D Block. I was always trying to get the latest CDs, I would keep my CD player with me at all times so I could listen to it on the train. Music is big for the mental, for your mood, and I've always been big into it."
Thus began the budding rapper's love affair with rapping, which he soon shared with his friends.
"Before I ever even thought about rapping seriously, we would have rap battles on the phone in middle school," 2Smoov let a chuckle escape. "We'd just rap about whatever, two verses, one verse. And whoever had the best verse won."
"My boys Marcus and JR already liked to rap, and they were good with metaphors. JR was really good, he can rap as long as you want him to," he continued. "I always admired that, people don't realize how hard it is, trying to make it sound good and catchy while thinking about what you're gonna say next. There's just so many talented people in Boston that goes unnoticed."
By the time 2Smoov reached his senior year of high school, however, the Boston-native and his crew were determined to gain recognition for their musical abilities. The formation of Triple Black Entertainment enabled the talented youngsters to express their love for music by throwing parties around the Boston area.
"Before we started taking rap seriously, TBE was the original music group me and my boys came up with," 2Smoov explained. "We were throwing parties in the city and clubs all around Boston. At first, we were all DJ-ing but then transitioned later to rap because we realized we couldn't all DJ. So two of my boys, Shaq and CJ, were DJs while me, Trap Al, and Chino rapped. "
Triple Black Entertainment soon became notorious amongst Boston's club scene, and the group soon began opening for headliners such as the Migos, G Herbo, and Lil Durk.
Despite the group's early success, 2Smoov and his crew decided it was time for a fresh start.
"Everything Crisp is now the new version of TBE," the rapper said. "We wanted to rebrand into a new professional growth while being more mindful of our image."
The transition to Everything Crisp saw a new refocus on management and events, with the new and improved team hosting events that featured big names in hip-hop, including Dave East, Fivio Foreign, and Roddy Rich.
Despite these recent accolades, 2Smoov has not lost sight of his musical aspirations.
"I can get besides myself, be in my own world, all while making my music into something that will last a lifetime. There's so many different sides to me, and I can just go to the studio and express all those different sides of myself."
"I became so in love with making music," he went on. "I don't think I ever had any other way to express myself."
Another way the budding rapper expresses himself, however, is through his passion for giving back to his community.
Armed with a degree in Sociology from Framingham State University, 2Smoov currently works as a social worker when he's not in the studio, seeing the profession as a way to help those in need.
"It's hard because there's so many things you want to do to help, but there's only so much that the city and state is offering," he said. "I want to make an impact on the world and give back.."
This includes a documentary 2Smoov is currently working on called "The Perfect Storm," which highlights the struggles people in his community are suffering through due to the pandemic. The rapper is currently accepting donations as support.
The desire to give back is what also fuels 2moov's love for entrepreneurship. Along with his ventures with Everything Crisp, the Boston-native has his own media company, Lawless Productions, which he created due to group's lack of media footage from their earlier events.
The rapper revealed he came up with the brand name based on society's rules.
"Growing up, you're taught to do things the way everyone else wants them to be done," he explained. "They tell you to do this, do that, go to college, get married, retire, then that's life. I feel like people should live by their own standards and rules and live freely."
"I went to college as a backup plan," 2Smoov continued, "because my mother worked really hard and gave me the chance to even afford college. She gave me the battery in my back. But really I want to be an entrepreneur and have my own business."
You're only as good as the company you keep, and in a cutthroat industry such as entertainment, good company can sometimes be hard to find.
Fortunately for 2Smoov, his main corner consists of cousin and fellow rapper, Allen Saint-Surin, aka Prince of Haiti.
"I've known David his whole life. We grew up together to say the least. The best way to describe our relationship is it's like a tag-team. We're like Kobe and Shaq, Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen."
"We've done everything together," Saint-Surin went on. "School, sports, entertainment. We've been together in every business venture, and we support each other. He's someone I really consider as a brother. That's my homie."
Saint-Surin's close relationship with his cousin also gave him access to 2Smoov's musical process, noting that it has changed progressively over time.
"His process has changed over the years. Before I would see him go to his pen and pad and formulate his songs that way in the studio," he began. "Then I've seen him being able to punch in and freestyle dope songs and dope hooks, so I would say it depends on what's going on with what he's thinking of to really determine his zone."
"But when he does get in the studio," Saint-Surin continued, "he's pretty much locked in. It's all fun vibes, but once the recording starts, it's straight to work and the process begins."
As a recording artist, having a creative mindset and the ability to manifest visualizations into reality is a resume booster in the world of entertainment. According to Saint-Surin, 2Smoov's experience with a camera -stemming from his ventures with Everything Crisp and Lawless Lingo- help him to stand out amongst the rest in the industry.
"In front of the camera, behind the mic, that's his home," Saint-Surin said. "2Smoov has taken professional videos and pictures for people, so when he gets in front of the camera he nails it. He's ahead of the game because he knows what he'd want to see as the photographer or videographer. So as an artist, he has that above other artists because he has that eye."
The fellow rapper also praised his cousin's relentlessness along with his good nature.
"The most I admire about 2Smoov is that he's not going to allow anything to hold him back. If he has a goal in mind, he's gonna attack that goal, and he's going to accomplish it," he said. "He's also a standup guy, he'll give you the shirt off his back. He's very well-respected. There's nothing bad I can say about him or his character, he's just one hundred percent a great person."
Regarding stereotypes the cousins faced growing up, Saint-Surin said the prejudice actually served as a positive influence for 2Smoov and others in their environment.
"Growing up in the hood, we get put in this box where either you're going to be great at sports and entertainment, or you go down the violent route. But our environment also gave us all of the knowledge of the streets and understanding how to not trick ourselves into the street life."
"Learning how to speak with people, how to interact with different walks of life and cultures, we were able to learn that from where we grew up," he went on. "We've been stereotyped as the black guy who sells drugs where a lot of the times, that's the opposite. Once people get to know David and hear his story, they'll understand that there's so much more to him than where we grew up."
In the end, regardless of 2Smoov's upbringing, Saint-Surin maintained that his cousin was going to always come out on top.
"2Smoov is a fighter. He's a warrior. He doesn't let anything get him down, and he's always going to uplift you when you're down," he said. "He always wants to accomplish the next goal and doesn't believe that he doesn't have the talent to obtain those goals. He just goes right after it."
The road to hip-hop stardom can be a bumpy one, with various roadblocks along the way. But 2Smoov is looking forward to the ride ahead, even if the journey is uncertain.
"I don't know where I'll end up when it's all said and done," the rapper confided. "I would love to work with a Sony, Def Jam, or an Epic because I could learn so much from those labels."
"But I also would love to grow my own label. I want to create a business where I can help people learn how to write music, engineer, and produce. At the end of the day, I want to teach the new generation how to do things the lawless way," 2Smoov smiled, sans gold grills and all.