Smino on Why ‘Noir’ Was Better Than ‘Blkswn,’ Wanting to Form a Group With Noname & Saba and Unity Among Chicago MCs

Smino on Why ‘Noir’ Was Better Than ‘Blkswn,’ Wanting to Form a Group With Noname & Saba and Unity Among Chicago MCs

“When 2020 hits, for 10 years, they’re going to play whatever I put out next. On some Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Nelly shit.”

Smino’s seated at the piano, tickling out some chords, but his attention is elsewhere. It’s a Tuesday afternoon in Times Square, at the Billboard office, and the St. Louis MC plucks LeBron James’s name from a nearby conversation, then cuts his innocent keyboard flex short to make a little announcemnt to the room: “It’s over for the Lakers.” The room cackled with laughter.

He might not be able to talk basketball and play music at the same time, but make no mistake, the Chicago MC is used to doing a few things at once. Since 2012, Smino’s been showcasing his dynamic skillset — he can sing and rap with elastic ease — and putting on for his city and collaborators, like Noname and Saba. His musicality is limitless, as proven on his most recent offerings, 2017’s blkswn and 2018’s Noir.

“Performing my new shit is different,” he says. “When I play ‘KLINK’ n—as be moshpitting and shit. I was talking to my manager — it’s crazy, the perception game. I’ll play certain venues and do certain shit and sell it out, and the n—a who has hella more followers on Instagram can’t sell it out.”

With his confidence level through the roof, the preternatural entertainer discusses his biggest show yet, at Coachella in April; possibly forming a group with Saba and Noname; and his plan to make timeless music like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Nelly.

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