Kreg Marable and Dez Arnez discovered shisha bars two years ago through their pal Omar Swanson. The Short North's Gypsy Cafe quickly became one of their social hubs.
Last month the self-proclaimed non-rappers, hosts of "The Kreg & Dez Show" podcast at kingsrowe.com, saw their puffing pastime lead to a local hip-hop hit when they released "Stupid Fruity Hookah" through Twitter.
"I wasn't expecting big-ass buzz," Kreg said.
But that's exactly what happened.
Kreg & Dez bugged Fly.Union for castoff beats to goof on. One spooky, minimal track inspired Dez to lay the sing-songy hook, "Stupid fruity hookah got me jumpin' in yo lady" over slow boom-bap drums and reverse violins. Kreg & Dez followed with a lazy, whispery freestyle punctuated by swagged-out refrains of "damn, damn, damn."
The duo leaked their bizarre concoction April 28. Within minutes, fans were flooding Twitter with praise. Hours later, CJ Townsend spun it at Level.
By the time "Stupid Fruity Hookah" played last week at Whudup Wednesday, the bi-weekly hip-hop night Dez hosts with Fly.Union at Club Icon, the entire club was rapping along.
"I've never seen the city get behind a local song like this," Dez said.
The track is gaining traction outside Columbus, particularly in Canada, Dez said. They're working on a radio edit and planning a video shoot at Gypsy in June. A full mixtape, "Nike, Women and Hennessy," is coming this summer. Who knows what's next.
"It was all an accident," Dez said. "Did it, loved it, ran with it."