Raised in St. Louis, Smino was born with creativity coursing through his blood. His grandfather, father, and mother were all musicians, and they encouraged his early curiosity. Along with his producer Monte Booker, he created the next-level collective Zero Fatigue, which consists of vocalist Ravyn Lenae, as well as other artists, singers, and rappers intent on embracing melody and experimenting with sound at the same time. The city and its progressive rap landscape are a perfect fit for Smino and Zero Fatigue’s fearlessness.

I’m like my biggest fan, so I don’t think anybody is looking forward to my album as much as I am
— Smino

That album in question, his sophomore effort titled Noir which is out now via Polydor Records, is a step forward in the St. Louis-raised, Chicago-built artist’s career. Noir finds him moving forward as an even more confident musician fully stepping into his gifts. He produced three tracks, including the album’s intro beat and one featuring fellow Zero Fatigue member Ravyn Lenae. Smino describes producing as more of a hobby. “I don’t sit there making beats, but I’m good at it, so if it calls for it, if I have an idea, I’ll do it,” he says.

Make no mistake: this was no DIY affair. Noir features a variety of Smino’s favorite producers, including LBoogie from THEMPeople, Sango, and longtime collaborator Monte Booker. Honesty and intentional fun get at the heart of Noir. If blkswn saw the musician tackling the issues of the day, Noir sees him pull directly from his personal everyday truth. With song titles like “Klink” and “Tequila Mockingbird”, Smino offers listeners a lighter contrast to blkswn. That brightness permeates the record and inspires Smino’s current outlook.