Everything You Need to Know About D Smoke

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Over their time on-air, The X-Factor, American Idol, and other music competition shows of that sort have featured rappers in spirts with varying degrees of success, but the full extent of Hip-Hop hasn’t truly been felt in that space until Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow. The show was the first competition of its kind to be centered around Hip-Hop and due to its platform, it didn’t need to be censored on the same level that something on television would. The genre and culture have always been rebellious and authentic, so that was necessary. Rather than tying the winner up in a recording contract with hidden clauses, instead, they won $250k. Plus, Cardi B, Chance The Rapper, and T.I. were judges, with guest judges in the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Royce 5’9, and the late great Nipsey Hussle. It was perfect.

The first season of the show took place last year and after weeks of grueling competition, Inglewood, California’s D Smoke was crowned as the winner. If you’re just taking notice and need to get up to speed on things, here’s everything you need to know about him.

He’s part of a talented family with a musical history

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Though he was relatively unknown to even hardcore Hip-Hop fans before the show, D Smoke does have some ties in music dating back to the mid-2000s.

After graduating from UCLA, in 2006, D Smoke started a group called WoodWorks with his brothers and his cousin Tiffany Gouché. They boast writing credits on songs from The Pussycat Dolls, Jaheim, and Ginuwine, some of the biggest acts from that era. One of D Smoke’s brothers in the group? SiR, who you might know as a member of TDE, the label which is also home to Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and more. The brothers collaborated on ‘You Ain’t Ready’ from SiR’s 2015 Seven Sundays album and the rest of the family has since collaborated multiple times in their newfound success.

Post-show success

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Since the show, D Smoke has chosen to stay independent and has released everything under his own WoodWorks Records. Despite that, he’s dabbled with some big names in Hip-Hop, including fellow Cali native The Game, who he collaborated on the rapper’s Born 2 Rap album. The song was ‘Cross On Jesus Back,’ which Smoke also helped produce, along with Mike Zombie, who you might recognize as the producer of Drake’s ‘Started From The Bottom.’

As well as featuring on other artists’ songs, D Smoke has, of course, also put out projects of his own. The day after the show ended, he put out a project called Inglewood High, capitalizing on the popularity he had gained overnight. The name of the project refers not only to where he went to school, but where he taught years later. D Smoke taught Spanish and music theory there for years, and he talks about many of his experiences from there on the project. The EP was a perfect introduction for fans and set up his next release nicely.

In February of this year, the rapper put out Black Habits, his second studio album following 2006’s Producer Of The Year. The 14-year gap was unique and cemented how, despite Smoke’s popularity growing overnight, he was far from an overnight success. To further signify this, as well as his family in SiR, Jackie Gouché, and Davion Farris, the LP features Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, Dreamville’s Ari Lennox, and more. If up until that point, D Smoke felt like a product of Rhythm + Flow, with this album, he broke into his own as a rapper to watch.

What the future holds

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As of now, D Smoke is undoubtedly working hard at something, but there are no musical projects that we’re aware of and are actively anticipating. But if the rapper’s 2019 and 2020 have been any indication of his future, then he has some great things coming. Back in March, Netflix confirmed that there would indeed be a second season of Rhythm + Flow judged by Chance, Tip, and Cardi once again. Perhaps the pandemic has delayed things, but we should get the show next year regardless.

Whoever wins will have a lot to live up to with D Smoke’s continuing success. No pressure!

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