Although he describes himself as just an average guy, there must be something about Jeremy, a.k.a. Suavé Smooth, that has dance floors and radio airwaves throughout the Southeast bumpin’. As the first artist from Palm Beach-based independent label Headquarter Records, he comes fresh with a sound that hasn’t been heard yet on mainstream airwaves. It’s a combination of Dirty South bounce, uptempo dance grooves, lyrics that will make you blush, and his energetic voice. I witnessed his stage show live in Tallahassee and later sat down with Suavé and Headquarter Records’ CEO Jermaine in West Palm Beach.
How did you come up with the name Suavé Smooth?
Suavé: “Suave” means “smooth” in Spanish, so it’s like two “smooth”s, basically. I’m not Spanish, though, I just like the way it sounds.
How long have you been rapping?
Suavé: Since I was twelve. I’m 19 now.
What made you decide to go at it independently instead of trying to get signed to a major?
Suavé: I see a lot of guys like Cash Money and Roc-A-Fella just becoming more successful doing it independently.
Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
Suavé: Scarface, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Tupac, and Outkast more than anything. I like Dre’s new CD. He ain’t really doing any hip-hop on it, but I just like Outkast.
What kinds of topics do you cover in your music?
Suavé: Basically my life. The two singles you’ve heard already, “What They Do” and “You Don’t Know Me,” were just basically used to promote the album. The rest of the songs are just basic songs about my life.
What part of your life?
Suavé: Just a regular human being going through regular situations, things like that. It’s not about being a hustler or nothin’ like that, just real-life situations.
Who do you listen to now?
Suavé: Still Outkast, and I listen to myself occasionally so I can get better at what I’m doing. If it’s not Outkast, I might listen to Jay-Z, Nas, something like that.
How would you describe your sound?
Suavé: It’s mostly a Palm Beach style. Something new, that no one’s ever heard before.
Is this your first album? How are you distributing it?
Suavé: Yeah, this is my first album. It’s called “Who The Fuck is Smooth?” and it’s being distributed by Southern Music Distribution right now, in Florida and Georgia.
Is “What They Do” the first single?
Suavé: “What They Do” didn’t really have anything to do with the album. That was another single we had put out that’s gonna appear on the second album. “You Don’t Know Me” is on the album, it’s just that the remix isn’t on the album. We did a remix to it, picked up the pace.
Where is it currently playing?
Suavé: “You Don’t Know Me” is spreading throughout Florida, in Ft. Myers, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee, and a couple strip clubs in Georgia.
Using the sample that you used, from Cybertron’s “Clear,” were you worried about the high expectations of sampling such a classic beat?
Suavé: Well, so far I haven’t really heard anyone say they didn’t like it. Most everybody I’ve met liked they way we jazzed it up a bit.
Do you consider your music to be hip-hop?
Suavé: I really don’t put hip-hop with Southern music. I look at them as totally different.
What’s more important to you in music, the lyrics or the beats?
Suavé: I listen to both the beats and the music ‘cause I do both.
Why did you name the album “Who Da’ Fuck Is Smooth”?
Suavé: The very first time people hear my name, that’s what they ask. “Suave Smooth? Who da’ fuck is that?” That’s the first thing that comes into their head.
Okay, so I have to ask, who da fuck is Smooth?
Suavé: A 19-year-old teenager by the name of Jeremy, a regular person, that’s all. That’s why on the album cover you see me coming out of my momma’s house. It just symbolizes me being a regular person.
Do you think the local scene is supportive of you?
Headquarter Records CEO Jermaine: They need to give more Southern rappers a chance. Our radio stations won’t play us at all. They won’t play no locals, X 102.3. They don’t be the first to play nothing. I met one of them at a DJ convention in Puerto Rico and I tried to give him vinyl, but when I told him I was from Palm Beach he told me to stop by the office. Nigga, you right here in front of me! Take the vinyl! I guess when he heard Palm Beach he figured I was with some small label. At least listen to the music, forget about whether I’m with a major or not. I feel like they should at least listen to it regardless of who it is. The underground stations really took the music and pumped it up. The rest, we had to go from city to city, passing out CDs. When we came back the second time around we found that people had really paid attention to the music on the CD.
Was the DJ convention effective for you?
Jermaine: It’s straight, you just gotta be a heavy hitter to make it. You just gotta have somebody to guide you, otherwise, you definitely aren’t gonna make it.
What’s your strategy right now?
Jermaine: Well, right now, we’re really just trying to break through the Southeast, and eventually break into the rap game. All the underground radio stations are very important. A lot of people don’t think they’re very effective, but believe it or not, they are more important because a lot more people listen to the underground radio stations than you’d think. A lot of rappers coming up should really pay more attention to the underground radio stations. Even though it might not seem like a real big thing, they can actually help you out a lot.