Written by Glo(w)
Genres may very well become a thing of the past. Today, hip-hop and R&B are no longer separate entities. Both genres have borrowed musical elements from each other, so much so that they are no longer distant cousins but fraternal twins. It is now common for rappers to take a stab at singing over saucy productions and for true vocalists to croon melodically over trap beats. Folks from St. Louis know all too well the thin line between rapper and singer. After all, it was Nelly who rapped in his classic sing-songy way. Whether Smino took his cues from the fellow St. Louis native or not, he is a true representation of a mesh of genres done right.
Picture this: it’s any old random weekday and some crazy lady with an obnoxiously huge, curly afro is driving haphazardly by you. You both reach a red light, and she is unaware of her driving skills—or the lack thereof. You roll down your window in an attempt to get her attention (translation: flip her the bird for the one time), but her music is so loud and her soul is so stirred, nothing can redirect her focus. That crazy lady driving: that was me the first time I heard Smino (shout out to old babe in the red Prius). I’m sure it was the divine alone who kept me safe as I zoned out and sat on the sun’s front stoop listening to this new artist everyone was sharing on my SoundCloud feed. Perhaps it was the music that blessed me with safety. That’s what Smino’s music does: it creates safe spaces. The production of his songs, many of which can be credited to Monte Booker, makes us comfortable with not knowing. It’s hard to know when the next drop will rattle your bones and send a tingling sensation down your spine in preparation for slow swaying or quick footwork. Coupled with Smino’s words, the sound relates to the young black experience and makes it cool to be vulnerable and reserved, to be extraordinary and normal. His music personifies cannabis-infused love reminiscent of early undergraduate years (“Raw”). He’s unashamed as he lets us know about his need for his lover (“Kreme Brulee’”). He pays tribute to all of the tragedies that have plagued the black community by way of police brutality (“Oxygen”). His music reminds us that even good guys have problematic fuck-boy tendencies, but also reminds us that we are all problematic as even the most conscious sister turns freakho to the sound of his voice (“Ballet”). His music is all encompassing. Every element of sound most can agree upon is present. And the best part? Smino never fails to put on for his city. #314
Pull over and zone out to a taste of this talent from St. Louis.