Bite-sized Album Review #23: D Smoke’s ‘Black Habits’

It’s been really sunny and warm out this week, so naturally, my Virgo-southernness drove me to go on a walk outside yesterday. And what’s a walk without listening to music? A waste of time. I was getting my Grammys prediction write-up done (which was supposed to be out yesterday – I lost track of time, but it’s up right now – here’s the link) and decided to listen to D Smoke’s Black Habits (2020), since it was one of the nominees for the “Best Rap Album” award that I hadn’t heard yet. He has a song called “Honey Jack” that I listened for the first time a few months back that I visit occasionally in my Spotify library, so listening to a full project from him seemed like the natural progression. Overall, Black Habits is a really great project and deserves the nomination. I’m not sure if it’ll win, but it’s a solid project.

Thematic Cohesion

The album takes on various aspects of Black life, both familial (a lot of which seems like it’s based on D Smoke’s life, especially his relationship with his father) and the ways Black folks exist outside of the home. We get conversations on here about the importance of maintaining close relationships with family and loved ones that flow directly into conversations about gentrification of Black neighborhoods in Inglewood (where D Smoke is from). Often, those conversations happen on the same song. The album feels very nostalgic but also very aware of the present and concerned about the future. And D Smoke balances those conversations very well on here.

Sonic Cohesion

I love the variety of sounds D Smoke utilizes on this project. It reminds me a lot of Buddy’s Harlan and Alondra (2019) where we get a sort of exploration of growing up in California (Compton in Buddy’s case and Inglewood in D Smoke’s case) through the production. Hip hop was the primary driving sound, but there was some funk and R&B laced in there as well that I loved. I was also HERE for D Smoke bouncing back and forth from English to Spanish on some of the tracks. Not only did that add something special to the listening experience, but it also helped build the world that D Smoke was offering in the music. There’s not a bad track on this project, but if you listen to anything, listen to “Real Body” because WOW.

AND I did NOT know that D Smoke was SiR’s brother! I thought he just wanted to have a fellow Inglewood artist on a track (they share musical space on “Lights On”) but turns out, they’re family ❤ and after seeing them in a few pictures together….yeah. The genes are strong. Also Tiffany Gouché’s is their cousin! The family is stacked with solid artists!

Vibe Check

A lot of shoulder-groovin’ moments on here. And a really nice project to listen to on a walk.

Replay Value

Since I was listening to this on a walk, I wasn’t really able to keep up with song names, so I’d have to go back and revisit the project. I only remember 3 songs that I wanted to add to my Spotify library.

3 songs i dig…

“Real Body” “Gaspar Yanga” and “Fallin'”

Featured Image via ET

Overall Album Rating

(listen to Black Habits on spotify, by clicking on the image below)

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