Published Mar 20, 2017These days, it seems as if everyone is blurring the genre lines in hip-hop. The days of single-faceted artists staying in one lane and one lane only are no longer. Enter St. Louis' Smino, who's managed to seamlessly fuse a Rolodex of different genres without sacrificing a single bar of rap integrity.
His debut album, blkswn, is an impressive mix of smart rapping and crowd-pleasing, futuristic R&B grooves that, oddly enough, don't sound too much like any other genre-blenders out right now. The first few tracks find the 25-year-old displaying a more traditional rap&B cadence, with a dreamy backdrop provided by his tight-knit production team including Monte Booker, Phoelix, THEMpeople, J. Bird and J. Robb.
After three slower jams almost exclusively about love, lust and liquor, Smino kicks things into gear and ups the funk with "Flea Flicka," the album's most replayable song. He ends the track by saying he "feels like the goat" — a bold statement from someone who just released their debut, but his confidence is infectious.
He maintains this high energy until final track "Amphetamine," an eight-minute emotion rollercoaster that hits on many millennial life ponderings. "Walking in stumbling / Fucked up some bread today / Though I said no no this time / Cycles on cycles / It's like an amphetamine / How it marinate on my mind" is a pretty metaphysical way to describe a young person's self-immolation, but his feelings are relatable nonetheless.
Fifteen songs might be a little long-winded for a debut, but still, blkswn has more redeeming factors than hindering ones. Any time an artist can blend genres together in a way that doesn't seem forced or stolen, it definitely makes for an eye-opening listen. (Independent)