Smino: Still Building

Photo by Pooneh Ghana / Red Bull Content Pool On November 23rd, coordinated by Red Bull Music Festival, Smino played for a sold-out crowd at Thalia Hall in Chicago. A few days prior, he was nominated for his first Grammy Award in light of his contributions to the renowned Revenge of the Dreamers III. A few months before that, Smino offered a standout performance on Chance The Rapper’s highly-anticipated album, The Big Day. And before that, the St. Louis mainstay embarked on the 33-stop Hoopti Tour, directly after releasing his critically-acclaimed album, NOIR.  2019 has been busy for Smino. And tiring, probably. But on November 23rd, the wear and tear of a restless year, bounded by success, refused to be seen. Entering the stage with the same effortless cool that swept across his introductory album, blkswn, Smino won the night before it even started. The show was just a victory lap. You see, at one point in his life, Smino moved from St. Louis to Chicago without a dime. He slept on the floor of a cramped recording booth, convinced that at some point or another, Plan A would pay off. In front of an exhilarated Thalia Hall, I was …

Intro – [Goonew]

Maryland rapper Goonew is back with a new visual for his track “Intro” off of his recent mixtape Back From Hell that dropped in October. “Intro” is a slower tempo and a calmer sounding tune that what Goonew has given us in the past, but “Intro” is by far one of his more sinister songs. From the first beat drop the track is intoxicated, laced together with a piano melody and a sporadic wolf howling to make the instrumental as ominous as possible and this is perfectly suited for Goonew to come onto the track and deliver his grimy lyrics. Goonew uses his unique flow over Sparhkeem’s beat and the anthemic hook was a perfect introduction to his last project. I am eager to see what Goonew does next and he has a chance to have a big break in 2020, as this entire year he has steadily built an increasingly dedicated cult following.

Bakkwoods – [9lokknine]

9lokknine is by far one of my favorite talents coming out of Florida. You can tell he’s talented and unique the moment you hear his music, but he also knows how to have fun and keep things fresh which can be a struggle for some rappers in the industry. His Florida drawl has had him compared to Kodak Black, and although this comparison is valid when it comes to their sounds, they’re two autonomous artists making their own distinct moves. 9lokknine is back and better than ever with his latest song and accompanying video for “Bakkwoods”. The song itself boasts jarring 808’s and other rapid percussion that is something new and uncharacteristic of the artist, but he absolutely smashes it. There are spurts throughout the track that just flow so well together and it seems like he might not even be breathing, which is always extraordinary when a verse can sound as smooth at 9lokk’s. The visual is simple but appealing, drawing inspiration from some classic rap videos with a few tweaks. The setting is mainly in an apartment complex as well as in front of a brick wall that has graffiti-strewn about, and this allows for 9lokknine to flaunt …

The Holy Mountain – [Namir Blade]

It is always a joy to find new artists that you are excited about from your own city and I am very grateful for the off chance that Namir Blade’s wonderful new visual for his track “The Holy Mountain” came to me in the form of a retweet. The Nashville artist clearly has a strong propensity for artistic direction, as Joel Davis brought this simple yet cleanly executed concept to life and I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition between the sprawling modern skyline offset by the classic film grain of the camera. Namir Blade is equal parts poet and rapper and his lyrical somersaults are crisply performed and his content is pure, both in form and function. The instrumental has a classic texture and it incorporated a soul sample that added to the warm atmosphere and this head-knocking beat was the perfect backdrop for Blade to exhibit his talent. This is one of my favorite videos I have come across lately and if you are a fan of more “traditional” rap music the stylings of Namir Blade will surely resonate with you.

Watch Chance The Rapper on Hot Ones

Chance The Rapper is a Chicago legend and a favorite here at Lyrical Lemonade, and he recently stopped by one of my favorite shows Hot Ones for a brand new episode. The terrific host Sean Evans asked Chance about plenty of questions about things such as his Netflix show Rhythm + Flow, the importance of Reggies and Harold Washington Libary, the connection between rap and comedy, the White Sox, Kanye West + his new album, his brother Taylor Bennett, his favorite Chicago food stop, working with Lil Wayne, his Christmas album with Jeremih, Chance The Snapper, The Big Day, his upcoming tour and he even got Chance to explain some deep dive pictures on his IG. This was a hilarious interview as it usually is, so I highly suggest that you check it out for yourself below!

Thousand Ways – [Wiardon]

Wiardon is a sixteen-year-old rapper from Austin, TX and there is a very good chance that he is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. The youthful spitter is a modern-day renaissance man, frequently drawing comparisons to Roc Marciano because of his propensity for bars and dense lyrics, but in addition to this Wiardon is also a beloved producer earning placements with Baby Smoove, Lucki, and several other underground pillars. He has quickly stood out from his competition mainly for his instrumentals that are powered by lavish samples that almost drown out his rapping, leaving just enough room in the mix for his vocals to still stand out. His latest visual for his song “Thousand Ways” is easily my favorite of his many visuals to date and it is perhaps the finest example of him blending a fantastic song with an equally aesthetically pleasing video. Keep an eye on Wiardon as he only continues to improve and furthers his already substantial and rapidly growing cult audience.

Life? … lol – [Pouya] ft. [Rocci]

Pouya is a rapper that has the rare talent of being able to not only fit in, but sound great on a myriad of different types of beats. This is evident in his most recent track “Life? … lol”, considering the production isn’t only uncharacteristic and completely distinct compared to some of his other songs, but it also switches up halfway through to give him another chance to show off his skills. The stress-free production along with the breezy vocals that Rocci provides are beyond soothing and it seems as if Pouya almost uses this as a therapy session of sorts, venting about a broken relationship that he suffered through. Considering this song is longer than seven minutes, I was worried that I’d get bored or unamused before finishing it, but quite the contrary happened. Not only was the uniqueness of both the production and Rocci’s vocals enough to keep me intrigued, but the beat transition in the middle of the track gave Pouya another chance to share his thoughts and spectacular flows, which is always more than enough to keep me interested for the long haul. Pouya never ceases to amaze me which is why I always make sure …

Ya Hear Me? – [Jelani Imani] ft. [DavidTheTragic]

If you aren’t aware of the creative renaissance taking place in Atlanta right now, chances are you are living under a rock. Just this week Kenny Mason, who has rapidly become one of the most hyped rappers in recent memory, unveiled his debut visual for his track “Hit” that immediately took off, earning co-signs from nearly every reputable hip-hop publication and pundit and this indirectly shined a light onto the countless other young Atlantans making an impact that may not be as well known yet, but is equally as potent. Artists like Wiley from Atlanta, Grip, Nicole Sakura, Grandma, and Hanzo also make up this talent-laden scene, but two of my absolute favorites out of “Altlanta,” as it has been dubbed, are Jelani Imani and DavidTheTragic. Recently these two teamed up for a brand new visual for their collaborative track “Ya Hear Me?” Jelani turned heads just months ago with the release of his critically acclaimed and locally beloved project The Shell that helped positioned him at the forefront of the city, and David also cemented himself into the underground consciousness with his memorable Fit In project that released this summer, and both of these tapes are very much worth the listen as well. …

Thugs Cry – [FTM Bear]

The rise of social media’s influence on determining what songs blow up has manifested itself in a variety of ways, and we have seen artists come up off of apps like Vine, Instagram, Tik-Tok, Triller, and maybe more than any other platform, Twitter. Just months ago YRN affiliate Duke Deuce went from a notable Memphis rapper to a national sensation when a snippet from his “Yeh” video went viral for its combination of Duke’s goofy dancing skills and the undeniable potency of his music, and after this explosion Duke Deuce has begun to reach new heights with zero signs of slowing down. In the past week or so on Twitter I have seen a new song starting to trend in this direction, not for gimmicks or clickbait but pure ability and emotional cogency. You may or not have seen this visual in question yet, but it is certainly looking like it will be hitting your timelines soon. “Thugs Cry” is the first track I have heard from Flint, Michigan based artist FTM Bear, and after poking deeper into his catalog after this initial listen I can confidently say that FTM Bear has a bright future ahead of him. Bear is …

Hot Shower – [Chance The Rapper]

Chance the Rapper is back to offer fans maybe one of the best music videos of the year for his standout track “Hot Shower” off of his debut album The Big Day. To match the energy and hype that the song brings to the table, there was definitely a lot of pressure to have a visual to do this song justice. With guest appearances from legendary actors like Jake Johnson and Kel Mitchell who also happen to be natives to Chicago, there is a storyline that starts with Johnson owing a group of people who seem to be mobsters money. He calls Chance to see if he can help him out with the funds, but Chance is busy taking a “hot shower” and misses the call. The next setting leads to a gym where the Chicago Emcee is leading a fitness class and getting swole at a gym as well as working at a protein bar making shakes. This leads to another setting change, where Kel Mitchell is busy working behind the counter at a diner, where he picks fights and dances with some of the patrons. For MadeinTYO’s verse, he cruises around a racetrack before getting out and spitting …