Leroy Smokes | Love Hustle Theater

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Hip-Hop/Rap: Hip Hop Urban/R&B: R&B Rap mix Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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Love Hustle Theater

by Leroy Smokes

This eclectic group of MC's and live instrument musicians have taken the Minneapolis music scene by storm over the last few years with a sound that's inspired by The Roots, Black Eyed Peas, and NERD.
Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap: Hip Hop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Intro
2:26 $0.99
2. Ya Llego La Hora (the Time Is Now)
4:01 $0.99
3. Kill the Dj
3:47 $0.99
4. John Henry
4:44 $0.99
5. Radio
4:50 $0.99
6. Breaker One Nine
3:56 $0.99
7. The Curtain
3:00 $0.99
8. Boima Freeman (interlude)
2:12 $0.99
9. Two Step
4:18 $0.99
10. Without You
4:02 $0.99
11. Love Hustle Theater
4:20 $0.99
12. Inscent
4:24 $0.99
13. 92 Stuff (interlude)
0:44 $0.99
14. Be Easy
5:14 $0.99
15. Never Scared
4:08 $0.99
16. Interlude
0:28 $0.99
17. Inside Out
4:08 $0.99
18. Some Other Shit
1:33 $0.99
19. These Kings
4:51 $0.99
20. Interlude
0:45 $0.99
21. Moving On
5:22 $0.99
22. Outro
3:52 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Hanging out with the Leroy Smokes is like being an outsider watching a close-knit family interact. You might never suspect that infidelities, betrayal, separations and splits have occurred in the past and put the group through trials of stress and uncertainty. The men of the 'Smokes Family seem bonded by way of brotherly love and respect, overcoming obstacles, and a healthy dose of familial bickering and taunting.

Front-men B Rukus and Buss One, totally different in form and race, seem to play off of each other like brothers. Each brings out the vocal style, delivery, and stories of the other. Keyboardist Friendly Fred is the clown and the flashy showman, doing anything he can for the love of entertaining. Trumpeter "Highstyle" Kyle is more subtle, but no less energetic in his ability to stir up a crowd and brass-up the music. Bespectacled Jesse Lee is a gem in the sea of local guitarists, bringing a surprising soul and bluesy voice to the 'Smokes sound. Darek "Hashbrown" Stephens? Don't let the aloof, detached persona fool you; his attention to the bass keeps the band firmly grounded in funkiness. And definitely not least, rookie Nic Woods happens to be the baby of the 'Smokes family, yet drums with the passion and skill that his years of experience have given him.
In its tumultuous past, a constantly changing collection of musicians presented challenges for Leroy Smokes, but also helped to shape and define the band's sound and songwriting process. Established in the late '90s as a hip-hop/funk jam-band, the Leroy Smokes released two independent albums, each one different in style and band lineup

Their second and more prominent album, The Plot Thickens, was released in 2002. The band played local and regional shows to support it and became popular locally for being an energetic and fun live show. Unfortunately, the album never captured that same energy in the recording booth. After some unreliable management and several contract disputes, the 'Smokes once again found themselves in a period of transition.

Between 2001 and 2003, significant changes took place. Most importantly, local media freelance-artist Nick Abdo took the reins as manager and booking agent of the band. Vocalist and turntablist DJ Syrum left the group, followed by founding member and percussionist APZ; both for personal reasons. Emcee Greedy-G left to pursue a solo career, but remains affiliated with the Smokesignyl family. During these departures, founder and multitasker B Rukus moved from rapping behind the drum kit to performing at the front of the stage, and drummer Ben O' Grady picked up the sticks. Finally, Kyle Borchert added his reggae-influenced trumpeting to the band.

In addition to their notorious stage presence, the 'Smokes are constantly producing and recording as part of their ongoing studio enterprise, Smokesignyl Productions. While recording an R&B project at Pachyderm Studios for singer Denwiddie in 2003, the band formed a working relationship and friendship with the singer's rapper/producer Buss-One. They immediately started collaborating and creating with the singers Casey Noelle, Venus Divine, and Mystic Blu from the Denwiddie project. Thus, the short-lived but popular "Super-'Smokes" era of the band began. Their shows -- visually improved and more dynamic with three talented female vocalists -- drew large crowds, and plans were made for an impending release.

However, the musical flourishing of next two years was overshadowed by struggles to maintain a stable lineup and a unified sound, while constantly playing shows to pay the bills. A large debt hung on from the slow-moving The Plot Thickens album. The women each went their separate ways.

Uncertainty strained the band when long-standing guitarist and bluesman Jesse Lee, founding member and bassist Hashbrown Stephens, and drummer Ben OG left the band to form the jazz/blues trio The Gitdown. After a few stints with local talents Matiu Unga and Paul Berg to replace them, the 'Smokes were relieved when both Lee and Stephens rejoined the group.

Now, in 2006, the drama-and-change-weary Leroy Smokes feel they might just have the solid musical family they need for the long-run. The upcoming release Love, Hustle, Theater is a much-anticipated piece of work: the culmination of three years of drive and creativity loaded into one musical Midwest Hip-Hop love story. Allow them to re-introduce themselves. This is not just an album. For this group, this is redemption



to write a review


It's an obvious comment, but this CD is truly smokin'!


Love Hustle Theater: a tightly, tightly constructed album

But it’s not as if we’re necessarily stuck here. With their latest, Love Hustle Theater, Minneapolis hip-hop septet Leroy Smokes opens-up some much needed breathing room.

Alright, breathe easy – there’s more to this than screwy typography and Midnight Marauders references.

From any standpoint, Love Hustle Theater is far more expansive than any hip-hop album would seem to have business being. While elements of Tribe, early Slum Village, and Blazing Arrow Blackalicious appear in Love…’s words and sounds, the Smokes are clearly staking out their own territory. The clique of musicians that provide Love…’s backdrop have fused standard scratching, sampling, and 808’ing with soul vocals, jazzy keys, brassy horns, strings, and multi-part live percussion. With these elements as its foundation, Love…’s textures shift from the gritty (“Some Other Shit”) to the smooth, “Bonita Applebum”-esque (“Inscent”). For their part, MCs Buss-One and B. Ruckus head-up this clique of versatile musicians with style, flipping easily from anti-radio/industry/mainstream polemics (“Kill the DJ,” “John Henry,” “Radio,” “These Kings”) to danceable party raps (“Two Step”) to mellow cool-out rhymes (“Moving On”). With all of these sonic components added to the mix, Love… sounds less like hip-hop than music with a hip-hop sensibility:

Simply throwing in obscure samples and bizarre musical quotations can become boring, very, very quickly. Doubly so if this sloppy hybridization plays out over 72+ minutes (Tokyo Drift, anyone?). Beneath all the added flourishes and interpolations, lays a tightly, tightly constructed album. With its tempo shifts, breakdowns, and careful sequencing, Love… continually reaches out for the listeners ear long after many other albums would have quit.

Granted, when compared to Mos Def’s New Danger or Common’s Electric Circus, the Smokes’ work seems unambitious, the type of project a former jam band would envision during a few late-night studio sessions. More refreshing than an attempt to expand hip-hop’s musical boundaries, however, is an attempt to do so that succeeds without imploding under its own weight. A few tracks could have been axed for the sake of brevity (“Ya Llego La Hora” and “Never Scared”), but there aren’t any “Electric Wire Hustle Flower” or “Rape Over” that undermine the overall feel or flow of the album. Just as the MCs always remain lyrically on point and musically on beat, the musicians keep the accompaniment ride-able and complex.

All this is couched within
a humble appreciation for MCing as hip-hop,
hip-hop as music, and music as music. In the end, the Smokes’
Love Hustle Theater isn’t about blowing hip-hop apart, it’s about opening up some new

– T.M. Wolf


this is the best Cd Ever
Love Hustle Theater, is the best Leroy Smokes CD they have put out!! congrats guys!! much love coming from Fargo!! they have 2, possibly 3 shows in fargo in september!!! everyone in North Dakota Better not miss this amazing event!!


Saw Leroy Smokes at their CD release party with my girlfriends!!! They are one of the best groups in Minneapolis, and this CD is one of the best this year!!


Best Album Yet.
Ever owned an album that sounded the same from beginning to end? No variation whatsoever? You get bored around the 4th song cause they're all the same. Me too.

And it's not this album.

This album has an incredible mix of Hip Hop and Funk. You have the songs that'll make your butt wiggle, and others that will simply have you nodding your head to the smooth beat.

I've listened to the Smokes for years, and I've enjoyed watching their music mature. This is definatley one of their best.

Looking forward to the next one!

danny wang

This is the music reflects real feeling. Great arragement, great variety, great energy. Lovin' it..Track 5 Radio my favorite

mrGoodbar -- Hazleton, PA

Album is truly spectacular
You don't hear this form of hip-hop much anymore. I wish I had more time to write a detailed review. Let's just say if you miss this CD you're sleeping on a true masterpiece. Lyrics are unique and thorough. Skits and interludes are ON POINT. The mindstate this album brings is so "real" and "down to earth". I bump this CD frequently. Anddddd DON'T FORGET TO LISTEN TO THE SONG "RADIO" (Track 5)!!!!! That track is crazy! THE PUBLIC NEED TO START TO LISTEN! AND F*** THE RIAA. If it wasn't for the internet I would of never found you guys. Reppin PA, spreading the word on the east coast.


Super sweet
What can i say. It's a work of art. Though the actual art work leaves a little wanting mas.