BandHip Hop



With a hit single, a widely regarded compilation album, and a soon-to-be released solo record under his belt, Smoke Bulga is paving a surefire path into the music industry’s elite gathering of dominant performers while doing his part to reaffirm Boston as a hotbed for hip-hop royalty.

Going by Smoke, his childhood nickname inspired by the way he “left the mic smoking” and Bulga after Whitey Bulga, one of Boston’s notorious gangsters still out on the lam, constitutes a moniker that captures the ferocity of the artist’s rhythmic delivery.

Now hailed in Boston's rap circles for his lyrical versatility, Smoke first fell in love with hip-hop during the 1980s, with rappers like Run-DMC, Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. Growing up in the South End, he heard rap music pouring from boom boxes and watched street fashions flourish as kids started mimicking the styles of their hip-hop heroes -- Adidas sneakers, tracksuits, and extra-thick gold chains, known as "dookie ropes."

"From the time I heard 'Rapper's Delight,' I liked the music," Smoke recalls. "One day, a kid in my class came in with a demo tape. He told me he wrote the lyrics and did everything himself, and I thought, 'Wow, I think I can do that.' That night I wrote my first rhyme, and the next day, the kids didn't believe I wrote it. Right then, I knew I had something. I knew I'd found my niche." Not long after that first rhyme, about his favorite color and "the girl I liked at the time," Smoke was entering -- and winning -- freestyle rap battles.

Taking matters into his own hands, Smoke formed Phast Life with his brother and a three other members. From the formation came the underground hit "Smoke Did It", a clever, yet forceful narrative covering the artist’s love of travel, women and money in a style that interweaves personal flair with elements of old school hip-hop. The success of Smokes debut single was the launching pad for future achievements, starting with Phast Life joining forces with local group Rushya in 2000. The two groups, both committed to representing Boston’s thriving rap scene, released a compilation album on XVIII Entertainment, which charted Billboard for two consecutive weeks. Since then, Smoke has collaborated with some of the industry’s best, most notably a remix of “Hell Yeah” with Ginuwine, R. Kelly and Baby.

Outfitted with a domineering presence and rhymes that evoke the revered roots of hip-hop, Smoke brings to the genre a command for the craft that stands unique among the prevailing talents in today’s industry. His upcoming album Live Phast, Die Young, soon to be out this summer 2006, is sure to break new ground in the world of hip-hop with lyrical storytelling to provoke, and perhaps revive the status quo of modern urban culture.