Smino Brews His Brand of Soul on his album, "Blkswn"

Written by Waylon O'Day

MLM Rating: 3.4 Out Of 5 Stars

St. Louis rapper, Smino, recently dropped his debut album, blkswn, an eclectic mix of soul, R&B, gospel, jazz, and funk. As far as debuts go, blkswn, is an excellent effort, but lacks a clear focus.

    Smino has been steadily gaining steam, doing tracks with Saba and Noname, and touring with Mick Jenkins. He comes from a rich musical background, his father played piano, and his grandfather played bass for Muddy Waters. With this album, Smino seeks to make his own contribution to his rich familial musical tradition.

Standout Tracks

"Glass Flows ft. Rayvn Lenae"


"Father Son Holy Smoke"


    The best parts of this album are the tracks like “Netflix and Dousse,” “Maracca,” that have this really fun, island-like atmosphere where Smino seems to be the most comfortable. Other high points are the half-dozen female vocalist features on tracks like “Glass Flows” and “Amphetamine,” which features Noname delivering an impeccable verse. Other strong efforts include “Wild Irish Roses,” and the titular track which have Smino showing his ability to seamlessly transition between a R&B singer to MC.

"Smino is easily one of the most talented and musically ambiguous hip-hop artists I’ve heard in a long time. "

My biggest critique of this album would have to be the overall lack of focus. Every song comes from a different creative place, which is not all bad. It gives listeners an idea of Smino’s musical repertoire, but it hurts the album by making it really hard to listen to all the way through, without skipping through the songs.

    Smino is easily one of the most talented and musically ambiguous hip-hop artists I’ve heard in a long time. This both good and bad, it makes for an exciting live performance I’m sure, but in the context of an album, it seems disorganized, and messy. However, it makes sense to do this on a debut; it helps you find out what sound resonates the most with your audience, and what doesn’t. There are some superb tracks on this project, but ultimately the album doesn’t play like on fluid piece of music, and that’s why I have to give this a 3.4. 

Stream BlkSwn below and follow him here.