If you’ve been following hip-hop at all for the last 15-plus years, you’re familiar with Rick Ross and his Maybach Music Group Empire that has helped elevate the careers of numerous rap superstars including Wale and Meek Mill.
If you’ve been following the Boston hip-hop scene over that same period of time, you’re also aware of Smoke Bulga and the work he’s put in to maintain a spot among New England’s most prolific artists despite drastic changes in the music industry.
Back in August, Smoke’s longevity and consistency paid off when he became Ross’ latest MMG signee, followed by the release of a track and video with The Boss himself:
A couple months after penning the deal, Smoke was recently able to celebrate his success with his hometown during a private event at Laced Boston in Copley Place. A variety of music professionals who are proactive in pushing the local scene forward were gathered to hear some unreleased tracks and take part in a Q&A session.
As someone who came up during a time when there wasn’t as much camaraderie within the Boston hip-hop scene, Smoke said events like this one are an example of the progress that’s been made:
“Bringing everyone together today, it shows me the level of where we’re going,” Smoke said. “Things have definitely changed [in Boston] since I first started, and it’s a blessing to be able to see everybody out, and everybody congregating together, because this is what’s going to take the city to the next level.”
Smoke Bulga comes from a generation of New England artists who have logged well over a decade in the game, remained persistent throughout the highs and lows of their careers, and are now reaping the benefits of their patience and relentless desire to keep improving. That list also includes names like Millyz, G-Eyez, Reks, and Termanology.
One thing these artists all have in common is that they never stopped representing where they came from. During the Q&A session, Smoke was asked about the best and worst advice he’s ever received. The best, coming from Mr. Ross, was to “always keep your circle small.” The worst? “Try not to be a Boston artist. Try to sound like you’re from somewhere else.”
The source of that quote wasn’t revealed, but whoever it was appeared to be under the impression that “Boston artists” can’t succeed in the mainstream. Smoke Bulga, a proud Bostonian and now a member of one of the most powerful labels in music, wholeheartedly disagrees.
Here’s a recap of the event: