SoundCloud Spotlight (February 2016)

On the song “zoom” off of the EP blkjptr, it is pretty clear that Smino, the Chicago-based artist, is trying to rap with the best. Flow reminiscent of Chance the Rapper (also from Chicago) and production similar to the glitch-y Shabazz Palaces, Smino showcases how he wants to push new, modern rap music even further. He is intense and aggressive. However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, on SBTV’s Backyard Sessions, we can watch Smino perform as an emotionally evocative R&B artist. Performing “oxygen” a song that is also on the blkjptr EP, Smino sings, backed by Monte Booker’s gentle guitar, about personal struggle and fears. He croons:

“He just a thug let ’em die in the streets,

Remember the day that they locked up my bro

Ain’t been the same, feel the shit to this day”

The performance is intimate and soft. Smino exemplifies the power of a dual threat rapper/R&B/soul artist.

Compared to “zoom”, “oxygen” serves as a breath of fresh air. In fact, blkjptr has a prevailing theme of fear and anxiety as each of the first four songs ends with the sounds of someone running, hurriedly out of a (presumably) an apartment building. “oxygen” is almost a Zen acceptance of this state of fear as it ends gracefully and quietly without anyone running away. It feels like Smino is relaxing and taking a breath rather than the cooped up anxiety that the rest of the album features.

Blkjptr is the most recent of Smino’s Ep’s. His first. S!CK S!ICK S!ICK, is pop savvy. It is catchy, upfront and less artistically ambitious than blkjptr. It sounds like Mick Jenkins, Bryce Tiller and Chance again. Although he has a small catalogue, I think Smino has a song for pretty much any rap enthusiast. I highly recommend you spend 15 minutes to skip through his Soundcloud catalogue. He is apart of the rap group Zero Fatigue with aforementioned Monte Booker and singer Raven Lenae. The entire group is worth a listen.


This month on Soundcloud Spotlight, I will be focusing a musician named Lovèn. He is producer/DJ from San Jose, California who focuses on repurposing old jazz and soul tracks into new electronic instrumentals. He is relatively new to Soundcloud (his earliest track posted about a month ago as of this post) but has already made a name for himself gaining 830 followers in that short time. He incorporates modern sampling with classic jazz standards and soul hits alongside with 808’s and digital producing in order to create sentimental songs that can spark any emotion in the listener. Lovèn demonstrates how new technology can refresh old standards and give them a new face. Take for example Chance, a simple yet elegant song that consists of piano sample and a simple drum pattern. Lovèn takes simplicity to another level. It is this simplicity that strikes me as a listener and as a musician. With all the over compressed, over hyped, and over complicated instrumentals coming out these days, it gives electronic music a breath of fresh air. Another song that strikes me is his most recent song called Always Love You. This song combines aspects of jazz, modern electronic, and lo fi to create a song worth remembering. The great thing about Lovèn is that he keeps his songs short as well. The nature of a repeating pattern is to get boring after awhile but Lovèn has perfected the amount of song to create in order to keep the listeners entertained. I am excited to see what he produces next and where he will end up. Lovèn has a collaborative project with producer Rainlord called Lovelord where he creates the same type of music. Go check him out and give a follow, he deserves it.

Peace and Love,

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