A local alternative hip-hop duo has more than 50,000 virtual followers across the U.S. “Our name is After the Smoke and we love to be hated on,” said member Whuziago “Whuzi” Laing.
After the Smoke is comprised of lyricist Whuzi and producer Anthony “Speek” Cameron. They have opened for artists like Big Sean, Ludacris, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and Wale. The duo was featured on MTV’s “The Seven” and crowned Freshman Artist of the Week by MTVu.
Blending genres like rock, electronic, funk and indie, After the Smoke is not afraid of being experimental with their music. Each track has a unique sound, drawing influence from artists like Outkast, Bob Marley, Banana Boat, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Nirvana and many more.
“The survival of the hip-hop culture lies in the artists who are willing to take that step into the darkness and try something new,” said Speek. “We try to draw our inspirations from classic pieces of art; things that will stand the test of time. We destroy the status quo and bring you something new.”
Both members chose “UIE” as the token track. Their most popular hit, “Typical Weekend,” was voted into MTVu’s top ten videos for three consecutive weeks.
Whuzi and Speek are both 25-year-old Fort Lauderdale natives with Jamaican roots. Growing up as an only child with hardworking parents, Whuzi was often alone. This forced him to be inventive with a unique imagination, developing a companionship with art. Speek comes from a musical family, and said each member either plays an instrument or sings.
Speek and Whuzi began making their own music in their late teens. At 19, Speek collaborated with Fonzworth Bentley on his debut album C.O.L.O.U.R.S.
They briefly crossed paths throughout their childhood, and then crossed paths again as students at Florida State, this time joining forces to form the After the Smoke. They have released two extended play singles to date, Under The Influence (2010) and White Girls and Red Velvet Cake (2011). Both are feel-good, emotional yet lighthearted productions, and managed to capture the ears and hearts of listeners like a virus.
“We represent the underprivileged and the underappreciated,” said Whuzi. “We want to reach people that want to change the world whether it be with their art, technology or fashion.”
After The Smoke is more than a hip-hop group. They advocate individuality and social activism, and value visual art and fashion. Speek is involved in the Occupy Tallahassee movement as the point person for Arts and Culture.
“It’s just the beginning,” said Whuzi. “Four years from now, if we make it a better functioning organism, the band is going be out of control.”
The group plans to get on the road, expand their clothing line and keep their movement growing to an international level. The duo hopes to collaborate with artists like Lil’ B and Tom York on future projects. Their anticipated single Ferris Wheels, will be released soon.
“I think the mark of a great artist is the ability to create something beautiful with limited resources,” said Speek.
Both artists substituted a lack of material resources with passion and found success. They couldn’t seem to fit in, so they created their own culture, and it all started with a Tumblr blog post.
For more information and upcoming events visit afterthesmoke.com.