This is a good vocal showcase. But when it shines, it shines bright. The festival was way crazier than the show. Describing a singular artist as either East or West Coast can simplify them to a certain sound and aesthetic.
smino – Smino Upcoming Shows — Live Nation
Christopher Smith Jr — or as most know him — Smino, is bringing his current The Hoopti Tour” to Denver next week. It’s church. It’s a rap show. It’s a rock concert. It’s like the first day of school. You’re going to see everybody looking fly. You might find you a boo. A lot of girls. I think I credit that to SZA. I did this tour with SZA. A lot of girls got to see me perform on that tour There are so many pretty black girls at my show.
Deaux, Drea, Via Rosa and Lenae are joined on the album by Akenya, who enters the picture near the album’s end. In Silk Pillows,” Smino offers a silk pillow to his overnight guest. The cultural relevance of silk pillows as a barrier of protection in the absence of hair bonnets is clear—and not just for his guest, but for Smino as well (silk pillows keep my head smooth,” he raps). Looking out for a sister instead of demanding a more polished” look or even putting down another batch of women for weaves and mascara isn’t Smino’s game. While providing a woman’s touch, Akenya’s voice ironically is silk, retaining a vintage quality that mimics that of a record player— a real Billie Holiday-esque feel.
Smino is joined by a host of female collaborators on his debut album that prove that where there is woman, there is light. Soulful, detailed. Just soulful rap shit, it ain’t really like a particular style that I try to put out. I just try to be the dude that can be anywhere I want to be at.
From the very first opening song of the night to Smino’s encore, the show had a crazy amount of energy because of everyone’s ability to work the crowd and arrange their sets in an exciting, engaging, and musical way. Earthgang and Phoelix gained a new listener and Smino gained even more respect from me as a performer. One of the best shows I’ve been to.
The introduction of St Louis Bounce – a melodic sing-song style of rapping over bluesy chords and beat production – in the early-2000s became the sound of the city. You got T-Pain, Kanye of course, Ludacris. There’s hella people that really inspire my shit. Hella jazz shit like Herbie Hancock, gospel shit like Tye Tribbett.
On his sophomore album, ‘NOIR,’ Smino uses his diverse palette to explore the creative margins of his sound and style. They love my music. They show that shit to everybody. Christopher Smith Jr (born October 2, 1991), better known by his stage name Smino, is a rapper from St. Louis. He combines hip-hop with funk and soul influences.
Smino proudly declares that he was born and raised in the Lou (as he affectionately does at most of his performances) and lived there as the youngest in a musical family of four sisters. I grew up in a house that went to church every Sunday. It was a bunch of music just always playing,” he explains. Every time that I did something that showed I was remotely interested in music, all of those people pushed me to do it.” Fast-forward one move to Chicago and a breakout single dubbed one of the year’s coolest love songs,” and Smino will finish a stretch of 75 shows—some as support for T-Pain, others as the opener for SZA —this Saturday with Kribmas 2017. Now in its second year, the concert sees Smino make a triumphant return home for the holidays in his beloved hometown’s Delmar Hall.
The first time I met Smino was at The Social Experiment drummer Greg “Stix” Landfair’s Jam Night at Tonic Room—two days before our scheduled interview at Humboldt Park’s Classick Studios. The semi-monthly event features some of the city’s most exciting musicians along with amateur musicians who can sign up to play onstage. I didn’t realize Smino was going to be there or that he played drums, but when I saw him perform, both playing drums for a few songs and then rapping later in the night, he killed it.
blkswn, featuring singles ‘ Anita ‘ (remix featuring T-Pain ), ‘ Netflix & Dusse ‘, ‘Wild Irish Roses’ and the namesake single ‘ blkswn ‘, is a testament to this – the distinct concoction of Monte’s soulful, modern production with Smino’s singsong, R&B-inflected rapping.
This level-headed section is more of a logical and poetic argument. The two halves contrast each other nicely and add a unique recurring component to the track. Smino’s animated delivery and clever wordplay also contribute to making SKEDOS” a noteworthy song.
The next year, things picked up when he met producer Booker. “I was in this room at Classick Studios making a beat, and he just walked in and then he put some strings or something on my beat, and it was so hot. We went in the next room and then started cracking jokes, laughing and laughing. We then played each other’s music. It was so instant.” As Smino said this, like clockwork, Booker himself walked into the room, corroborated the story and sat on the couch to go look at shoes on his laptop.
Smino is a 27-year-old rapper from St. Louis who found his musical home a few hours up I-55 in Chicago. It was there that he collaborated with such contemporaries as Noname, Saba and Mick Jenkins, forging his own take on the city’s kaleidoscopic acid rap sound. By the time he released his debut album, blkswn,” in 2017, he sounded fully formed: a rapper with an elastic flow, a pen that favored oblique rhymes and wordplay, and an ear for wonky beats that skitter or slither, depending on his mood.
The songs “Klink,” “Tequila Mockingbird,” and “Z4L” are fun, light, and similarly emphasize Smino’s rapping; the short and seductive “Merlot,” where he croons “merlot” (or something that rhymes with it) between stretches of almost free-form rap, is more reminiscent of Blkswn.
Every track or project Smino has released so far usually credits its production to Monte Booker in the liner notes. Smino and Monte are each other’s secret weapons. Both have made laudable music on their own, but together they are a force to be reckoned with. Monte himself is producing some of the most engrossing beats across the city. As much as this album is Smino’s chance to prove himself, it is also Monte’s. The songs produced together offer more of the same, but that is in no way a shortcoming. If something isn’t broken, why fix it? And that mentality is exactly what Smino and Monte follow on blkswn.
L.M.F” and PIZANO” also have potential but suffer from gaping imperfections. For instance, the 11-track PIZANO” kicks off with a mesmerizing first verse where Smino spits at lightning speed over a lucid beat packed with kicking bass. However, the lackadaisical writing for the second verse causes the latter half of the song to lag. If that wasn’t enough, the hook is nonsense as well, so it is difficult to advocate for the track despite the promising first verse.
The bassline is shaking my headphones off my face. It’s another unexpected sonic transition that’s otherworldly R&B. Ravyn Lenae doing the background vocals. The two have a strong chemistry, and the record sounds stunning. It’s like a mermaid and a merman in the studio together recording a love song 20,000 leagues under the sea. Funny how much contemporary music leans heavily into the soundscapes André 3000 was tapping into with The Love Below. This is a masterful arrangement. The breakdown is just showing off at this point. It’s the half-court shot that goes in even though you won the game by 60 points.
The first Smino song I ever heard was the truly amazing Anita” remix that featured T-Pain; it was so good, it got its own music video. The track is appropriately chill, retro, and fun, the perfect backdrop to warm weather fun. Now the Saint Louis-born, Chicago-based MC—who has worked with the likes of Chance the Rapper, Noname, and Saba—is back in support of his sophomore album, NOIR, that dropped last November. The record is a moody, sexy, R&B-drenched thing, and Smino’s voice is chameleon-like, versatile, changing on every track. Listen to KLINK,” with its guitar tightly simmering over a trap beat, before you head out. And FENTY SEX” when you bring someone back home.
The 24-year-old born Megan Pete started rapping in childhood after accompanying her mother, Holly Thomas aka rapper Holly-Wood, to recording sessions in Houston. Megan’s career began with freestyles at college parties, and she released three mixtapes in three years with her mother as her manager, building her buzz while still completing courses. The rapper is slick and authoritative on the mic as she channels alter egos like Hot Girl Meg, who she calls the party girl, the polished girl, the turn-up queen.” Her debut album Fever, released last week, is a showcase for this alter ego. Hanging with Hot Girl Meg makes for a fun 40 minutes.
When we sat down at Classick Studios, Smino was excited, telling me, “Today’s a good day for me because, God damn, I’m pretty much done my project. I just got a lot I can say.” 2016 seems like Smino’s year, and with both his St. Louis family and his new Chicago-based Zero Fatigue crew (his longtime producer Monte Booker, singer Ravyn Lenae, Classick and more) behind him, he’s ready to take it all.
Ghetto Sage’s three members have quietly teased the new project through Twitter over the last week, sharing teaser-y photos and a rhetorical retweet of a simple question from XXL: Name an album you can listen to without skipping a single song. All three know that fans are hungry for a new project, after each released albums last year — though there’s no word of a Ghetto Sage record yet.
It’s probably the most fun part about doing the album, putting it on stage. I just left rehearsal for my Christmas show in 2018 that I have every year. I’m doing it in my hometown, so it’s actually the first time I’m playing my album live with my band here. It’s cool, it’s tight. There is a lot of work though that goes into the live show. I’m just looking forward to seeing how it is going to evolve live. It’s an ever-evolving thing with the music; every night you find something new to do.
The biggest name attached to the album is executive producer Q-Tip. Though he only produced a few beats for the album himself, all three continue the loose, funky sound explored on the last A Tribe Called Quest record. In particular, Tip shows how to color outside the lines with the chords on Best Life,” a shoo-in for feel-good rap song of the year. Most importantly, Danny credits the Tribe mastermind with pushing for a simplified sound, requiring him to damn near relearn how to rap.” Q-Tip may have only been behind the boards for three tracks, but his influence is felt across the record. It’s easy to imagine him lending his ear to other middle-aged rappers in need of a way forward, but Tip is likely too bombastic of a talent to settle into being a background figure forever.
I just wanted to sound good for myself. I never gage the music I make based off a response. I’m never gonna make some shit because people want it. I make what I want to make. It has to sound good to me first. It’s just as good of a gift to know when your shit is good and when it’s bad.
blkswn did what all artists hope a strong debut will do: provide access behind locked doors and latched gates. The name Smino became known worldwide following the album’s March release; not only did the music travel across the globe, but the rapper did as well. Without a Drake feature or a sensationalized, viral social media moment, Smino was attracting attention solely from the art he made. He now stands out as one of the most exciting, eclectic new acts to emerge from the Midwest.
He can make songs. That’s without question. Everything sounds good, well-written, and well-executed. He’s leaning into these smooth, ethereal vibes. Makes me wonder what a Smino and Clams Casino record would sound like. Her booty flat like Converse” hahaha. An atmosphere to get lost within. Tear the pussy proper, it’s a meniscus,” athletes will appreciate this hook. Talking about his city. Each record has plenty of performative tricks That’s another gift found in Smino’s music, the tricks are delivered in abundance. The audience—his audience—is never out of focus. Okay, this vocal buildup is insane. Sounds like a bunch of souls escaping Azkaban. What a weird, haunting beat. The outro will raise the hair on the back of a black cat. Another vocal skit. Smi talking about it being cold in LA sounds like he’s changing the radio. Wait, I don’t know what’s happening. But the beat is NASTY. These drums are grimy. Oh, nah. I need an entire track.
Chicago-via-St. Louis rapper Smino has shared KLINK” from his forthcoming sophomore album NØIR. His longtime producer Monte Booker loops a dense flamenco guitar riff that Smino commands with characteristically frenzied flows and a hook like Future ‘s cracking King’s Dead” falsetto on Adderall. The song follows the Sango -produced L.M.F.” as the album’s second single.
To be clear, Danny’s not only focused on sex. He tries out other hip-hop tropes on this record, like a stand-up finding new ways to joke about dating or airplane food. Savage Nomad” is a flashback to childhood, fighting on the playground after school and stealing the scales from chemistry class for unsanctioned extracurriculars. He references Minnie Riperton and Eric B. & Rakim in the same verse, despite sounding the polar opposite of those artists’ smoothness over rigid hi-hats and squealing guitar. To rhyme it with impotent” and licorice,” the rapper bends LinkedIn” into three syllables. It’s a reference to a podcast, sure, but it also sounds like how a kid might mispronounce a social media site he has no business being on.
Born Chris Smith Jr., Smino was raised in North St. Louis and got his musical education early. “I’m a musician. I’m into everything. My mama sang and my dad played piano—Sunday morning you can catch them still doing that at church. We’re like a whole musical Addams family.” He first started rapping because of his older cousin. “In first grade, I wrote my first rap on my homework. I got in trouble because I was talking about robbing people and stuff—I was 7 or 8 years old,” he remembered, laughing.
Yeah, that shit is more about how I just like making music, bruh. I be making music. I don’t try to make music to fit into anything. I got my own kinda pool going on. I just never felt like I had to make that kind of music. I’ma always be like that.
I would say I’m very proud of myself and to call this album mine. I really worked my ass off and I stuck with the family the whole way. It’s me and Monte the whole way and my boy Felix stepped in a few times. All people that I’m good friends with. I think my core fans would really be proud too.
Even if Simon Says” is entirely ghostwritten, the Three 6 Mafia homage is far from an aberration in Megan’s catalog, or even on Fever. Juicy J produced two other album cuts, future strip club anthems Pimpin” and Dance.” Fellow co-founder Project Pat contributes to W.A.B.,” built around a sample of the group’s Weak Azz Bih.” Three 6’s influence is apparent in so many strains of modern hip-hop, but on Fever Megan places the Memphis collective alongside Houston and New Orleans in a firmly Southern context. The album concludes with Megan declaring herself Hot Girl Meg from the motherfkin’ South,” and it doesn’t feel like a conclusion, just a tantalizing cliffhanger promising further misadventures.