Nelly made listeners sit up and take notice to St. Louis branded Hip Hop in 2000. He went on to become one of the greatest selling rappers of all time. However, other than Nelly, there haven’t been any huge Hip Hop stars to emerge from St. Louis since then. Smino, a.k.a Chris Smith, is poised to be the artist that makes fans pay attention to St. Louis again. The rapper/singer just released his debut album (following two EP releases), Blkswn, on March 14th. The release date is significant to Smino because 314 was his area code growing up.
He sings and raps too, which seems to have become a rapper’s requirement within the last decade or more. Thankfully, he does both very well. For those that haven’t heard of him before, they will surely remember who he is after listening to Blkswn. Smino delivers one of the most clever sexual innuendos of recent years with the catchy opener, “Wild Irish Roses”. He proposes to pull over while driving around town with his special lady to give her pick her some of those wild irish roses, among other things. His word play doesn’t let up on the lyrically dense “Maraca”. Smino compares his fans at live shows and ability to please women (making them both shake) to maracas. “Glass Flows” is one of the darker tracks, that recounts reasons why a past relationship failed. The song features smooth vocals from Ravyn Lenae.
“Netflix and Dusse” offers up one of the albums many high points. This is clearly a netflix and chill situation, but Smino adds his own twist with a little Dusse to sip on. The chorus is one of those witty, tongue twisters that will have you pressing rewind. One interesting point to note about his sole rap verse on the song is it was originally include on Big Sean’s “Living Single” track with Chance The Rapper. The official version is void of Smino’s verse. “Netflix and Dusse” proves that wasn’t the best decision.
“Anita”, featuring Jean Deaux, is also one of the album’s stellar tracks. This song was dropped as a teaser single preceding the album, which serves as a teaser. Smino celebrates his love for African American women. Songs like “Father Son Holy Smoke” demonstrate his lyrical ability that speaks well beyond his 24 years. Get in front of the crowd before everyone starts to take notice to Smino. His quirky, witty and entertaining style of rap-singing is a much needed break from Hip Hop’s current bad and boujee influenced rhymes.