Smino • 'S!CK S!CK S!CK EP'

When you spend most of your time following acts from the bottom up, it can get easy to forget where they fit in with the overall larger picture. For St. Louis transplant Smino, that has certainly been the case, at least from this perspective. The 22-year-old smooth-crooning rhymesayer with the cool southern drawl has been easily one of my favorite acts since I stumbled upon him at Classick Studios during a Taylor Bennett session just over a year ago. In the time since he has gone about working closely with Classick, producer Monte Booker and the rest of the Fam from Chicago Ave and California which resulted in this three-song offering, S!CK S!CK S!CK EP that dropped today. 

Possessing a sort of soul not often encountered on the hip-hop side of things, Smino's music has seemed to always benefit from the blues-centric stylings of both his hometown and adopted hub. That sound is underlined consistently by producer Monte Booker who has been a large part of the development of it. Separate the two are great talents in their own right. Together however, the duo is excellent to make it easy to imagine hearing their work together playing across the country. Booker's work with acts like Ravyn Lenae have proven his ability to move about a series of different feels, but it is the tracks he's crafted alongside Smino that could well propel both of them into the next plateau of the game. There's a certain magic to an artist and producer finding one another at an appropriate time, think DJ Mustard and YG's rise to prominence over the last couple of years, and here we may just have our own Midwestern version of just that.

Here though, we get a nice feel for what we can expect from the 'Home Team' alumni, albeit over just three songs. Trust that, once downloaded, you'll be replaying these regularly like it's Kids These Days' Hard Times in 2012. The pairing with Booker can't be overstated and his production at times feels like a sort of movie, continued in each track and tied together by abstract aesthetics, a thin thread pulling it all back full circle. While "Ruby Red" was the initial single that stuck out to me on this one, I'd have to go back to double check because it's not for sure when one ends and another begins. In that sense, it might be a sort of calm before the storm, the latter being whenever we get the full-length follow up. For now though, we're heavily satisfied.

To be sure, we need more from the kid. A year of waiting only to get three songs is certainly not feeding my appetite here. But, such is a symptom of having paid attention for a minute and I have Mr. Classick to blame for the hunger for more but Smino is taking the correct, careful steps towards a proper full-length project and here he inches ahead once again with a well-formulated release that only ups the ante for what's to come.