Some may say it was written in the stars: Chris Smith Jr., better known under his stage name Smino, was born to be a musician. Growing up in St. Louis, the son of a keyboardist and a singer, and the grandson of Muddy Waters’ bass player, Smino received his first instrument (a drum kit) at the age of seven. While playing in the church band, he started rapping and experimenting with other genres and styles.
At the age of 18, he started his first rap project under the stage name C. Smi, with his friend and fellow musical talent Bari Allen. Their group was soon called Young Dumb and Outta Control, often referred to as YDOC, and they went on to release three mixtapes in less than four years.
In 2012, while working with Bari, Chris also released his first solo mixtape, Smeezy Dot Com. He then moved to Chicago to study at Columbia College. The windy town, however, also resulted in a game-changing career opportunity, as there he met Chis “Classick” Inumerable, his brand new manager.
At this point, his musical career began taking off. Catering to his new fans’ insatiable desire for new music, Smino released two new EPs in 2015. Starting the year with the release of S!Ck S!Ck S!Ck, he soon followed, only a few months later, with Blkjuptr (pronounced Black Jupiter). Thanks to the incredible production by Monte Booked at the Inumerable’s Classick Studios and the exceptional talent of Smino, Blkjuptr soon gained the attention of both the critics and public. Hailed for its precisely thought-out storytelling of the theme of alienation, the album easily grew a cult following.
In 2017, he released his first extended album, Blksw (pronounced Black Swan), an interesting mix of different influences, from classic hip-hop and R’n’B to jazz-funk and electronic music. Smino labelled his music and specifically Blksw as futuristic funk and soulful rap, to highlight the many different influences listeners could find in his work.
One year later, he released another album called NØIR, yet again in collaboration with producer Monte Booker. NØIR received positive reviews throughout webzines and music blogs, obtaining a respectable 7.6 from Pitchfork. The album was praised especially for its versatility, already shown in Smino’s previous releases, and his unique singing abilities.
Declaring himself an “album artist”, uninterested in producing commercial singles to obtain radio airplay, Smino hasn’t released any new music for a couple of years.
He published a single, Tempo, last March, after announcing the upcoming release of his third album. So far, however, we haven’t heard any news about this new work. We hope his third album will be out soon. We look forward to seeing what new sounds and influences the young rapper will bring to the table.