Part of Brooklyn's talented Boot Camp Clik, the powerful tandem of Smif-n-Wessun got their start on Black Moon's classic debut, Enta da Stage, in 1993. Rudeboy MCs Tek and Steele made their presence felt on the cuts "U da Man" and "Black Smif N' Wessun." In early 1994, the crew scored a massive underground hit with "Bucktown," a reference to their violence-plagued Bedford-Stuyvesant stomping grounds and "home of the original gun clappas."

Their debut LP, Dah Shinin', followed soon thereafter, unleashing more heavy artillery from the military-minded BCC. With a canvas of dark, gluttonous beats provided by the gifted Beatminerz production squad, the duo expanded the limits of harsh-sounding, neck-snapping hip-hop by adding a melodic element. The crew released their album during the heyday of one of the most influential independent hip-hop labels of the '90s, Nervous Wreck Records, which many other indies (Rawkus) have patterned themselves around. Their recording moniker alone, Smif-n-Wessun, implies violence, but the weaponry they deploy is also of the verbal variety. Tek and Steele both possess signature flows, the former a bit more straight-laced while the latter showcases West Indian influences. Dah Shinin' is a focused album with a sharp, compacted sound that still contains depth, albeit strictly from the dark side.

Forced to reincarnate themselves after a legal battle with the Smith and Wesson firearm company, the duo resurfaced in 1997 as Cocoa Brovaz, a reference to their heritage and also to their marijuana fixation. Their second album (and first as Cocoa Brovaz), 1998's The Rude Awakening, was a more sprawling and chaotic venture, as well as being a shade more frighteningly dark. Since 1998, the two partners have released a few singles, including "Super Brooklyn," which features a superbly innovative use of a sample from the old Super Mario Bros. Nintendo game. ~ Michael Di Bella, Rovi