Referring to himself as a "professional misfit" is Hip/Hop and Rap artist Johnny Smoke, who hails from Los Angeles, CA, and is ready to express his imperfectly fitting wisdom.
As a chart-topping producer and founder of Dead | END KIDS, Johnny Smoke has already garnered himself the necessary expertise to continue his emergence as a music artist. The latest offering on behalf of Johnny Smoke consists of his 8-track, self-titled album, a collection of emotionally-charged endeavors. Focusing on the importance of mental health and accepting one's own self, Johnny Smoke stimulates listeners with uplifting lyricism to propel the best version of themselves.
Johnny Smoke's album begins with "Smoke Up Johnny," a track with a blissful array of lo-fi beats combined with a heavier quality of energy. This instrumental track unravels the essence of Johnny Smoke's album and sets listeners up for the ambiance they can expect to be withheld for most of the album. With a short duration, "Smoke Up Johnny" sets up the next track, "Wonderland," in a complementary way. Johnny Smoke took on a confident approach regarding his performance in "Wonderland," choosing to hone in on hot-blooded verses. With fresh lines and putting his ferocity into the spotlight, "Wonderland" can adhere to a certain aesthetic.
The aesthetic switches up slightly with the albums third track, "Picasso." With an unrelenting and assertive tone, Johnny Smoke can arouse listeners with his full display of spirit and determination. Listeners receive an entirely different sound with the following track, "Fade II Black." With a certain kind of resolute, combined with a more mellow melodic production, "Fade II Black" feels like a track dedicated to introspection. Johnny Smoke ensures that its receiver easily picks up the easygoing and flowing tonality of the track and that the atmospheric rhythm establishes a sedative environment. Johnny Smoke only gives listeners a short intermittent break from the more sharply expressive accent, as "How High R U" pierces the balanced air due to its heavy intonation. And the intonation only gets more abundant with the album's sixth track, "Fuck Em," featuring Mr. Sin. Johnny Smoke attempts to lay out his own philosophy in this track, venturing along the actualities of life and the ways to get around them.
We can feel our energy levels instantly rising with the raving vitality in "Off the Leash." Featuring artist Bobbi Rich, "Off the Leash" is truly an experience with the raw level of collaboration between the two artists' exploit. There's gushing enthusiasm which provides an authentic rush, and the two artists share their testimonial truth with their listening base. Arriving at the last track of Johnny Smoke's self-titled album, we're quickly delivered a captivating performance by Johnny. Choosing to focus on his nonchalant performing techniques, Johnny Smoke aims to fit an easygoing ambiance to bring listeners back down to a place of composure. Looking back, Johnny Smoke's album release brought many varying aspects of his artistry to light, especially how seasoned he can truly be a music artist.
Discover Johnny Smoke's self-titled album here.
Hello Johnny Smoke, welcome to BuzzMusic, it's great to have you with us. What kind of influence did you pack into the main narrative/theme presented in your album 'Johnny Smoke'?
First, thank you for your time. I think the time is the most precious gift we can give each other. This project, much like my way of life, is about challenging expectations... and ultimately loving yourself. Perfection does not exist anywhere in the universe except in human expectation. I embrace every piece of myself. I’ve been an asshole, a scumbag... I have depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, but I accept myself and grow from those moments. I think it’s our imperfections, our flaws that we try so hard to hide that make us Interesting... truly strong, and beautiful. I also wanted to challenge the expectation around an “album.” This project is less a traditional album and more a collection of musical vignettes. After working in the music industry as a producer for several years, I realized that almost everyone approaches music with preconceived expectations that were created not by the listener, but by the commercial industry. That seems insane to me. “Album,” “EP,” “Single,” “genre.” Just using these terms creates in your mind some expectation. I wanted to challenge that. Imagine going into an art gallery and your expectation of EVERY piece of art is that it must be using paint, on a 24”x36” canvas, and must only have the most popular colors and painting style. A landscape of art and it all looks the same with minimal distinctions. Think how disappointed you'd be with everything in there that doesn't fit into your "box". How fucking boring is that? We're probably not even aware of how many times we've let our expectations dictate our experiences in life, in art and completely missed the opportunity for personal growth. Your album saw a collaboration with artists Mr. Sin and Bobbi Rich. How did you feel during the course of these collaborations and do you feel that your next album release will also contain collaboration with other artists? I enjoy working with artists that have depth, that has really lived, felt pain, and struggle. This project was made during the quarantine. So working with other artists was a challenge, and at times impossible. Leaving me to produce, write, perform, engineer every song (with Mix & Mastering by the incredible Platinum mix engineer Eric Racy). So there is very minimal collaboration on this, and I'm incredibly grateful for the features I got. SIN (@convounedited) is one of the sickest artists I know. I've been a fan of his since day 1. His lyrics and delivery are just undeniable. He and I were in a band several years ago called The Basiqs. I couldn't see myself doing a solo project without having a place for him in it. He's in Tampa, FL, so it took us a while to get him set up to be able to record his verse (for the track "f*ck em" ) at his house and get it over to me here in Los Angeles. But once we worked out the logistics, everything just clicked. He's my brother, so I'm sure we'll be doing more in the future. Bobbi (@mamahotdog) is one of the most creative spirits I've ever encountered. The flurry of ideas, and drive to create, the brilliance that comes from her vision is incredible to watch. We collaborated on the track "Off The Leash" where she sings the chorus. The funny thing about that song is that she wrote and sang about a completely different topic than what I had written. She was obviously feeling very deeply about the seeming futility of relationships... "I don't need a man, stray doggie lose off the leash again". It was just so powerful of a statement and moment, the energy felt so right that I left it. Sometimes the emotion or feeling of something is more important than succinct meaning. I don't like to speak too much in the future (couple things in the works with the talented @jwlkrmusic). This being the first release from my label DEAD|END KIDS, I look forward to the opportunity to collaborate more. What kind of attitude did you feel that you needed to focus on in order to craft the bulk of "Johnny Smoke?" I'm not sure what that means... I guess I healthy dose of "f*ck it". Music is therapy for me. I create to maintain my sanity. I talk about suicide so I don't do suicide... I take natural "drugs" like cannabis to allow me to let go of my anxiety and create from my most raw unapologetic place. I don't create for approval or attention. It's like a message in a bottle. I guess my hope is someone will hear it and know they aren’t alone. We’re all some kind of fucked up. Figure, I’ll just own that shit. Our imperfections make us uniquely beautiful. If my art isn't for you... then it's not FOR you. Out of the 8 tracks presented on the album, which track did you feel required you to channel more introspection within yourself in order to write/record it? It's all introspective. Like on the track Picasso I say "I'm a couple grams short of an ounce. Outlook is black like the burns on my couch. Could have been a doctor or a lawyer, something else.. but it's even harder just to be my fuckin self." I feel zero drive to create some socially acceptable vacuous catchy dance tune, or any other kind of thing that may not be sincere. There's no put on. It's just me. Are there any goals that you're establishing for yourself within the rest of 2020? What kind of mindset do you have going into the idea of creating more music? Originally I didn't want to release this project to the public. But, I felt a push from friends and others to put it out. I'm an activist and member of the NAACP and ACLU and I saw this as an opportunity to turn that interest into donations to support the ACLU. So 100% of all proceeds from this project are going to support the fight for equality and ending systemic police brutality. If people connect with the project in some way, and at the same time I can help support a cause that is near to my heart... Win. Win. I'm constantly creating, so there could very likely be more music coming. As a producer I've been lucky enough to have a Billboard #1, I've created music for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Owsla /Atlantic, Universal Pictures, Fortnite, League of legends, and more... So I hope to do more cool shit in the years to come.