At the top of the interview, C.L. Smooth discusses maturity and parenthood as a young father. He says that during the mid-1990s “disbanding” of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, raising his two sons became his biggest priority. That responsibility led to the MC to leave the spotlight, making sporadic appearances in the years that followed.
At 5:00, Sway Calloway asks C.L. about the root of his disbanding from Pete Rock, and if it was related to family. “I wanted to grow, as men. I think it was beyond the music point, where I feel like I don’t have to blame people for my rights and wrongs—or I have to look in the mirror first. For me, it’s just about [what is] beyond the music: being able to talk to each other, articulate, being able to understand each other’s pains. And what I’ve learned from this disbandment is hurt people hurt people. When you want to heal, you’ve got to sit down and talk about it.” C.L. continues that he values friendship above other things. “You can’t dodge [problems]. There’s only two people in the group; it’s not Earth Wind & Fire. There’s only two people in the group, so you’re always gonna be stuck with that genre. ‘This is your brother.’ But we’re moving in different spaces, in different time, and people are pullin’ us in different spaces.” Corey alludes that lifestyle family choices also may have an effect on the duo’s differences. He expresses that neither party should suffer from the other’s choices.
Sway urges Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth to consider getting together again, whether on stage, in the studio, or both. New music from A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, and Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh has popped up in recent years. At 12:00, he wants resolution. “On my end, you know it’s always been that open door for conversation. Let’s have some tea. Let’s talk. I figure if you can’t have tea, you can’t do anything. So if you can’t sit and have tea, what’s the point in talking about something so beyond belief? But when I look at it on the outside looking in, I look at it like a boxer that sees the prize and the belt on another person, and I want it. That’s how I look at it.” He adds, “So even if we’re not getting along, maybe that’s good too. Maybe let’s write about not getting along, not agreeing with each other, not liking who we see every day in each other. But, in the art-form, anything goes. That’s what the challenge is. Some people don’t wanna be challenged, but I do.”
C.L. expands. “You need to listen to your own records, ’cause they have so much information in it.” He says that he is a lot like his grandfather, who he famously referenced in the lyrics to “They Reminisce Over You.” Smooth previously released American Me in 2006 on Shaman Works label, and The Outsider one year later. Sway mentions the latter LP in the interview. In 2019, Pete Rock released an instrumental album of 1990s beats, as well as Retropolitan with Skyzoo and Statue Of Limitations with Smoke DZA and Benny The Butcher.
Listen to “Too Cold” by C.L. Smooth, followed by “Just In Town” in a playlist:
C.L. Smooth also discusses his love of gardening, raising two sons with Masters degrees, and more.
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