Black History Month has come once again. It’s a time of reflection, understanding, and realization for my brothers and sisters all over celebrating and raising awareness for our history to be sure. Brandon Smith delivers his self titled mixtape and it travels all across the trials and tribulations one black man could face in today’s day and age from the personally charged truthful opener, to the old and new sensibilities he brings to beats, and with a minimal list of features (only two tracks!) this is the young rapper’s time to shine.
Black Brute Intro starts off the tape with a rolling blaxploitation beat and gets the hard boiled raps going. Smith blazes through the intro squeezing in verses and lines before taking a breath. The upbeat jazz strings the chords along as we rhymes and replays the hook and enters a quieter spoken word segment for the back half of the intro. The beat changes providing us a somber moment until the song’s over. whitehousekickback (2009-2017 & FUCK TRUMP) lets Smith get presidential for a second. He flexes his bravado talking on the women he’s hanging with, the police tracking him down, and how it’s a problem if your lady is messing around with him. He narrates a more hip-hop influenced Presidential Party and adjusts the beat and his rhyme to a Reggae sound showing some versatility and comfort in his style and flow.
WhatWouldYouDo? is more simplistic with Smith asking questions to himself and the audience, giving us thoughts to ponder to get where we want to be. f o r d s 2 f o r e i g n s features a sample of “Smiling Faces Sometimes” initiating a few starts and stops over the course of this song in particular. His voice and rhymes work great over the production, one never outshining the other and leading into the next part of the song disregarding if the beat is nothing like what came before. One final (Luke Cage themed) beat closes out the song and a inspiring quote from Gucci Mane allows us to enter the next track without skipping a beat. radric davis gives us Smith getting more about his personal life involving his location, attempts to make it big, and relationships with the opposite sex. It’s all leading to following the wise words Gucci Mane proclaimed long ago, “Don’t get lost in the sauce.”
EUROPEAN MONEY weaves the old school in with his Smith’s wordplay. He smoothly spits about making money, dodging racists, not being involved in drugs all in the name of making money. The speed at which he goes from a personal jab at his family life to talking about black history is all wrapped up in a nicely tied bow. He keeps things fresh with either speeding the track up and down for added effect to throwing us back in time. four00sixtynine DDD keeps the old time beats going, being one of the better songs that help set the mood before throwing drums into the mix. Smith keeps things quick and to the point, only rapping in bursts letting the production do the heavy-lifting. lost ft SAINT CLAIR is the most up to date sounding song on the mixtape and only one of two that sports a feature. He narrates about the various women struggles and responsibilities one young rapper has to navigate, not trying to get lost along the way. The rhymes while dreary, come quick and bouncy like he’s in a haze but just reaching the light with his skill.
HARLEM NIGHTS goes for a descriptive night of Smith meeting and enjoying time with a women and it only goes up from there. From his style of elaborating the night to chronicling the wishes he deems acceptable in his own flaunting way. PART II delves into R&B territory with Smith laying everything out on the table about discussing women. He sounds young and older at the same time when unrelenting his story and the repercussions that follow, over the two minutes he expresses the drama, love, and personal stakes that’re involved with attempts at love. coming down is Smith literally descending down from the fast paced and previous topics he’s talked on the mixtape and looking within himself to put it all on the track. As time goes on, we get to understand what Smith is going through in his life and it’s a great look for him to cover what’s going through his head and how he views the world.
As we begin to close out with p a i g e f l o w e r s (DREAM – Paige Flowers feat. Brandon Smith) and I miss you (outro) Smith is calm, apologetic, and steady while the beats are practically an inverse of what he’s built up to slowly but surely. He’s looking in on everything that’s happened to him as far as where he’s going and where love is concerned. It’s apparent throughout the mixtape and the young rapper easing into speaking on the political climate and his own harbored emotions and hopes provides great insight to the young rapper’s head. As far as introductions go, Brandon Smith has one of the better instances of making a first impression through his music.