Staying down has its benefits. D Smoke has been musically inclined for most of his life, learning from his mother (who was a minister of music) and his own siblings—among them TDE singer SiR. He started out on the piano, and started rapping at 10 years old, picking up some producer aspirations from his uncle, Andrew Gouche, Prince's last bass player. After an early career that included a group deal with his brothers that fell apart and the passing of his close friend, 2010 was D Smoke's year of rebirth. Little did he know that his rising talent would thrust him into the spotlight, thanks to his ability to switch flows on demand and speak the truth in his raps.

Kicking off his career 10 years ago, D Smoke used the time to take rap seriously after seeing success with writing songs for other artists. Fortunately, he became locally popular in his Inglewood, Calif. stomping grounds and caught his big break by becoming a contestant on Netflix's Rhythm + Flow hip-hop reality competition show. He eventually won, solidifying his place in the game as a rising artist to watch.

Now, after earning plenty of new fans and keeping his day-one fans fed with his focus on substantial lyrics, dexterous flows and an ability to bounce between English and Spanish naturally. Not close to feeling satisfied, D Smoke dropped his debut EP, Inglewood High, in October of last year, and is releasing his new album, Black Habits, on Feb. 7, this Friday.

With the success of his songs "Last Supper" and "On Paper," which have over  7 million and 2 million Spotify streams, respectively, it looks like D Smoke can only go up from here. Catch up with him in this week's The Break.

Age: 34

Hometown: Inglewood, Calif.

I grew up listening to: "Kurupt, Snoop Dogg, OutKast. Jay-Z, among a whole lot of other artists. I also grew up listening to gospel music, Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond. Yolanda Adams, Lauryn Hill."

My style’s been compared to: "Kendrick [Lamar]. We don't get comparisons outside of that one that much. People say who they would like for me to feature with. They wanna see me on a song with Kendrick and [J.] Cole. But I think those are expected. The comparisons come from a place of artists who can entertain at a high level, and still have a certain depth of character and artistry, are few and far between. So when they do come, the immediate response is, 'We got another one of these.'"

I’m going to blow up because: "I know the world is gonna respond to what I'm doing because it's true. I know that people are gonna love the art that I put out there because it's vulnerable. It's entertaining, it's ballsy and its good. It's just good music. I'm just confident that they're really gonna respond to this project."

What’s your most slept-on song, and why? "'The Game' on Inglewood High. The verse's dropping gems! That's a rapper's rapping song. I'm always talking from my perspective, but consciously writing."

My standout records to date have been: "'Honey Jack' is one of ’em. 'Fly' is rapidly becoming one of them. A lot of people liked 'On Paper,' too."

My standout moments to date have been: "When Inglewood High made it to top 10 charts on Billboard. I been on Billboard before, but it was a song that I wrote for another artist. So to look up and see my project charting with my artist name on there, it was a very proud moment."

Most people don’t know: "I box. I am an undefeated amateur boxer, I'm 3-0 and I retired. Retired at the top, three fights, three victories, no knockouts."

I’m going to be the next: "The first D Smoke. Ever."

Follow D Smoke on Instagram and SoundCloud.


"Honey Jack"

"No Commas"

Inglewood High

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