Speaking about his just-released mixtape, Dream.ZONE.Achieve, Smoke DZA sat down with Complex and detailed the inspiration behind its title and artworki, meeting Cam’Ron through Dame Dash, and ditching the weed references on his latest release. 

“I started fucking with Killa from Dame, shout out to Dame,” DZA said. The Dipset emcee features on Dream.ZONE.Achieve, specifically on the project’s third track, “Ghost Of Dipset.” “I met up with Dame one time, I haven’t seen him in like three years prior to this time, we linked up at Mercury Lounge. Ski Beatz had called me to come do an event. I went over there and ran into Dame and Cam walking through the doors, you know, Dame is very animated. [He] see me, starts snapping. Small talk, he’s like, ‘Yo, you met Killa?’ I was like, ‘Nah, I was never formally introduced to him before, never met him.’ He introduced us, I performed, Killa told me while I was on stage Dame was in his ear like, ‘Yo watch this nigga man, this nigga’s good.’ And Killa, sure enough, after I got off the stage, was like, ‘That shit was dope my nigga, you nice my nigga.’ Exchanged math but it really wasn’t too much from there, and then, you know, just coming around, smoking pot and talking shit. We just started to build and it led up to what we doing right now, we got our project that we working on.” According to Rolling Stone, Smoke DZA and Cam’Ron are tentatively scheduled to release a joint project later in 2014. 

Asked about the motivation to shy away from marijuana references on Dream.ZONE.Achieve, DZA described wanting to tell the story of his life. “The decision from that came from not really trying to spring away from it,” he said, “‘cause I’m not trying to lose my supporters and I’m really indebted into the culture because regardless if I was rapping or not I’d be smoking weed. I felt like I had to let people get into my life and see my journey from where I started to where I’m at right now. And I felt like in past projects it was a gap within that, like I’d give a little bit. But this project was like full-circle with everything, it’s more like a life composition.”

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During the interview, Smoke DZA also detailed the mechanics of the mixtapes three-part format. “I mean the name of the project is Dream.ZONE.Achieve,” he said. “So I’m trying to give that feeling every time. The first act is Dream, that’s the process, the thought, everything going into doing what you want to do. So I’m basing that feeling on shit like ‘Ghost Of Dipset,’ ‘City Of Dreams.’ Then it goes into ZONE, the hustle, the motivation and that shit like ‘Hearses.’ That shit like ‘Zone,’ the joint I put out with CJ Fly. And then Achieve,you know, that’s the basking in the glory and everything else, reaping the benefits of what you do. That goes ‘Tropicana Roses,’ ‘Errthang Valid,’ ‘Achieve,’ the joint that Pete Rock did, so I tried to split up moods.

DZA also broke down the Nas-inspired cover art, saying, “well, I’ve always like that picture.” “I felt like that picture describes my title: dreaming, zoning, and achieving, like, I’m doing all three in that picture,” he said. “That image with Nas sitting there, back in the day just was so much for me. I just felt like flipping that into a cover would be the right thing to. Plus it was painted. Shout out to BK.”

Smoke DZA’s Dream.ZONE.Achieve was released officially yesterday. The 21 track release includes production from Pete Rock, Cardo, Harry Fraud, and more. Besides Cam’Ron, the mixtape’s features include Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, BJ The Chicago Kid, and NymLo

A Spotify stream of Smoke DZA’s Dream.ZONE.Achieve is available below. 

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