As is the trend for many an aspiring MC, appearing on underground mix tapes throughout the New York Metropolitan area was this Brooklyn rapper's jumpoff. In 1995, having circulated his name and created a buzz, Smoothe made a power move with the release of "Broken Language," an exercise in thug-life linguistics that helped influence a new style of MCing. The track was actually the B-side of their original single for Profile Records, "Hustlin'." "Hustlin'" was better-than-average hip-hop, but the B-side sleeper became Smoothe's claim to fame. With free verse stanzas littered with abrupt, staccato phrases and hanging rhymes, Smoothe and his younger brother Trigga Tha Gambler captured the underground's attention. The rhymes of "Broken Language" sounded like automatic gunfire on wax. After almost a year of trepidation, Smoothe borrowed the title from an old Sergio Leone gangster film for his debut album, Once Upon a Time in America
. The album was fairly strong, but nothing on it was equivalent to the originality of "Broken Language." The use of Curtis Mayfield
's "Freddie's Dead" for the track "Hustler's Theme" was particularly unimaginative. Smoothe and his talented brother Trigga took on East Coast crime hip-hop with aplomb, but in the end, despite his quick-witted style and enormous talents, Smoothe did little to immunize himself from hip-hop's mid-'90s outbreak of one-hit wonders.