On Repeat: Smino – blkswn

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

It’s never too late to share good music. What are you listening to today?

At the time I originally wrote this (April 2020), I had just posted an Instagram story in which I used Smino’s song Glass Flows (feat. Ravyn Lenae). Just like any song I fall completely in love with, I listened to it on repeat.

Rapper and singer Smino released his debut album blkswn in 2017. I love the stylised album title which is verbalised as Black Swan. The 18-track LP became my daily soundtrack for a solid week.

I’m a Fitness Professional who, at the time, was making the transition to online fitness training (due to the pandemic) and rewriting my business contracts/documents. Somehow, blkswn became the thing that put me into the right headspace to just get though the work. I remember listening to Monte Booker produced Glass Flows and Sango produced, title-track blkswn back-to-back (on repeat) some nights. Both of these songs are gold.

The younger, WWE obsessed version of me was excited when I heard the John Cena reference on Glass Flows. “I’m John Cena with the visual/ you can’t see me, can’t see me, no.” Which follows another lyric I just couldn’t get enough of, “cry me a river, I’ll teach you how to build a boat.”

A hip-hop album on it’s surface, blkswn gives R&B, neo-soul, some funk and a whole lot of vibes from rapper and singer Smino. The majority of the album features production from Smino’s Zero Fatigue (music collective) compadre Monte Booker and guest production from the GoldLink associated Sango and a few other guest spots.

In no real particular order, here are five of my top picks from blkswn:

– Glass Flows (feat. Ravyn Lenae)
– blkswn
– B Role
– Ricky Millions
(feat. Drea Smith)
– Father Son Holy Smoke

It was tough picking five ‘top’ tracks, there are so many great tracks on this album and by that I mean all of them. There’s no shortage of interludes (song intros/outros) either, which always adds character and context for a great album listening experience.

Don’t miss the gem of a hidden track on blkswn‘s close to 8min last song, Amphetamine. It features Jean Deaux, fellow Zero Fatigue member Bari and fellow Ghetto Sage member Noname. It’s a must listen.

Missouri rapper Smino is part of the Zero Fatigue music collective with producer Monte Booker and artists Ravyn Lenae, Bari and Jay2. He is part of hip-hop supergroup Ghetto Sage alongside Chicago artists Saba and Noname. There’s more! Smino is also a part of hip-hop supergroup Zoink Gang with fellow members Buddy, J.I.D and Guapdad 4000.

Stream blkswn: Apple Music / Spotify (preview below)

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