Yesterday,dropped his debut album and it appears to already be sending ripples into the future. The St. Louis rapper has been fully embraced by the people of Chicago these last two years; vital to this success being Zero Fatigue, the Chicago based collective that brought together the majority of the artists involved in the creation of ‘blkswn’. Together, they have composed a genre-defying album full of organic vibrations and soothing melodies that require the listener to keep hitting replay if they want to find all the gems carefully woven within the masterful project. The focal point of ‘blkswn’ remains Smino’s fascinating ability to transition from soulful crooning to tongue twisting raps, a sound Brown describes as “dirty disco, it’s futuristic funk, it’s revolutionary R&B, feel-me passionate pop, whatever you want to call it.”
You will not find any fillers on this 18-track album, but we have selected 5 special songs that we think everyone should listen to if they want to immerse themselves in the world Smino has carefully pieced together. You can find our highlighted picks along with the streaming links for the album below!
1.”Glass Flows” ft. Ravyn Lenae
“Glass Flows” features Zero Fatigue’s own shining star, Ravyn Lenae, who just released an amazing project of her own called the Midnight Moonlight Ep. Smino and Ravyn go back and forth seamlessly on this song, trading falsettos over some smooth Monte Booker production. Lenae is the first of many amazing female features on the album and Smino’s unique flow is just so addicting; this is definitely one of our favorite songs from the project.
2.”Netflix and Dusse”
Remember that one time Big Sean didn’t keep Smino’s amazing verse from “Living Single” on the official release of the song? Well Smino didn’t get bitter, he made it even better by adding a catchy chorus about getting comfortable with someone over Netflix and fancy cognac; he found a way to take an already great verse and level it up with some help from the talented Monte Booker of course. The song ends with Smino receiving some advice from his grandad about staying true to himself, and from the unique sound of this album I think it is safe to say he listened to that advice.
3. “Edgar Allen Po’ed Up” ft. TheMIND
This song finds Smino reflecting on his reliance on vices to deal with the emotional tribulations of everyday life, something mostly everyone can relate to. Always one to add a strong soulful presence to any song he is apart of, TheMIND does outstanding on the second verse of this song, you don’t want to miss out on it!
4. “Father Son Holy Smoke”
Every once in a while you will come across a song that hits your soul just right and makes you feel better about whatever situation you are going through at the moment. For me, “Father Son Holy Smoke” is definitely one of those songs. Smino’s futuristic funkrap is in full effect here, spitting honest thoughts at a quick pace and switching it up to a soothing chorus that heals like no other. The clean production on this one is handled by Chicago based artist circle,THEMpeople, who you have seen produce for Chance and Mick Jenkins before.
5.”Amphetamine/Krash Kourse” feat. Jean Deaux, Bari Allen, Noname
As the last song of the project, it serves as a beautiful finale filled with a handful of surprises. The first half is produced by Monte Booker and finds a perplexed Smino combing through his thoughts with some anxiety, only calming himself down when he remembers he has a girl who knows how to keep him from spilling over. Booker gets some production assistance from Phoelix and J. Robb for the second half of the track and Smino recruits some talented hidden features as well. Zero Fatigue member, Bari provides a dope chorus after Smino drops one of his best verses on the project. Jean Deaux continues the divine feminine energy on the album by dropping an amazing verse next, combining her singing and rapping so flawlessly that it is difficult to differentiate the two. The final hidden guest on this song is none other than rising Chicago rapper, Noname, who dropped the critically acclaimed project ‘Telefone’ just last year. Noname took to Twitter to say her final verse on this song is “damn near (her) best feature verse.” It is only right she closes up Smino’s debut considering the fact that he had the last verse on the last song of her debut, the magical track “Shadow Man” also featuring Saba.
There is a reason why Smino, Saba, Noname, Mick Jenkins, theMIND, SaveMoney, and friends are constantly collaborating; something is happening within hip-hop and we may not be able to fully comprehend the impact these artists will have for years to come. While we wait and see how monumental this Chicago/Midwest hiphop scene will be for the future of music, you can enjoy the futuristic funkrap sounds of ‘blkswn’ below. Thank you Smino and Zero Fatigue for being unapologetically yourselves, this is just the beginning.