I wanted to give you guys a comparison of Smino Brown to someone else, just to give you a sense of the type of artist he is, but I can’t come up with anyone. There is no one in music right now or that I can think of in the past that has been making the type of music Smino is making. The closest group I could come up with is Outkast but to say that Smino is another Andre clone would be doing him a massive disservice. This rapper/singer out of St. Louis seems to be taking the best parts of rap from across the country and combining them. He flows like he’s from Brooklyn, brings the jazz and soul from the south with his voice, uses the grand production and showmanship that has been coming out of Chicago, and he’s been liberated by West Coast rap, talking about what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. He’s so incredibly versatile on this tape but at the same time staying incredibly cohesive. For a debut album, blkswn is everything I could have wanted from Smino and then some.

That’s not to say that this album is perfect. I certainly have a few gripes here and there. The biggest issue for me right now is that there are a couple songs on blkswn that don’t have that same sort of easy-going way about them. The first one that stuck out to me was “Maraca”. He just doesn’t seem to settle into this track the way he does on the opener and even though there are other songs on the album where he flows a lot faster than on “Maraca”, something doesn’t seem quite right on this cut. I hear it a little bit on “Glass Flows” and “Edgar Allen Poe’d Up” where Smino seems like he’s either a little behind the beat or that he’s trying too hard. Those songs are all at the beginning of the album and as the track list plays, he seems to find his groove a little more, switching in and out of flows like it’s nothing. Personally, there are very few albums more than 15 songs long that I wouldn’t change at all. That seems to be my subjective threshold for LP length so this might just be me but I could do without two or three songs on this album.

With that criticism out of the way, I have to say that about 10 of the songs off this album have been on heavy rotation for me since the release. “Wild Irish Roses”, “Flea Flicka”, “Anita”, “blkswn”, “Long Run”, “Innamission”, “Ricky Millions”, and “Amphetamine” are all on my “favorite music right now” playlist. I also really like the song “B Role”, partly because it bangs and partly because it’s a risk for Smino. An artist as special as this guy could just run with his own sound but he is still trying to push boundaries and find new avenues to explore. I can’t help but respect that and I am excited to see where this rhyme smith will go in the future.

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