On the way to the top it is expected that there will be times the credit deserved will not be the credit received…. there are living legends all over who haven’t received their respected flowers. But Virginia bred lyricist Smiff is planting his flowers early with the release of his second album “Flowers”. Smiff harnesses a flow and delivery otherwise not commonly found in mainstream HipHop. Sharp bars and real life draw listeners into a place of artistic perfection. After the release of his first record “To Whom It May Concern” Smiff experienced traction that fueled the evolution of his career. His content accompanied by his delivery is a shift from what is currently found in Hip-Hop. But it is the refresh everyone needs, and a culmination of life lessons, observations, and an ode to how far Smiff has come. With an elevating career it was only right for the artist to gift his fans a body of work that would serve as an honorable follow up to his first drop.
Who is Smiff? And how did you come up with the name?
Smith is actually my last name, but it’s spelled the incorrect way, my last name, but it’s just how I pronounced it. You know what I’m saying? People kept saying like, “Bro, are you saying like it’s spelled S-M-I-F-F?” I’m like, “Nah, it’s just, it’s how it sounds when I say it, but it’s spelled the right way.” So that’s really how I just ran with it. A part of me… ‘Cause before Smiff, I had a bunch of other names that just was trash for real. So I was just thinking I wanted to be more genuine to who I am as a person,” which is how my music is too. I tell real life stories, things I’ve really been through. So kinda like how Nas did, his name is Nasir, so he shortened it down. So I just thought like, “What could I use as, really, J. Cole use his real name?” So, yeah.
When did you start writing music?
When I first started writing music, I think, was probably eighth grade maybe. Before then, we was doing battle raps, rapping people or either write a rap in class, go to the lunch table, battle at lunch, battle in the hallways, shit like that. We started doing that at first, and then my man, by the name of Sails, he was recording in the eighth grade. He was like one of the first dudes I knew that had a studio at his house, and he was like, “Yo, come through.” So I pulled up and I was recording with him for at least a couple of years for a while to about 10th, 11th grade. But it was more so, kids just fooling around, just recording different. It wasn’t nothing serious. It’s like, “Oh, he got the studio. Let’s go pull up over Sails’ house and record.”
What was the turning point for you then that made you really wanna start doing it?
When I really realized I was nice. When I really thought I was nice, and then I started really looking at the climate of music, I’m like, “Yeah, I could really do this.”
Did you have a moment at an event or something, or did somebody tell you, somebody specifically tell you? How did you realize?
Just people telling me, and then just different people saying, “Yo, bro, I mess with the music.” But more recently, when I dropped my last project, To Whom It May Concern, when I dropped that project, I started getting a lot of real things happening that made me realize like, “Nah, you need to take this serious.” One, for example, was it was this random lady at my job, we knew each other, but we were really getting to know each other. And one day, she was just singing this song. And I’m like, “What are you singing? Stevie Wonder?” She was like, “Nah, this is not Stevie Wonder.”Because that’s a sample that’s in the song.
She was like, “It’s this dude that was rapping that my homey put me on yesterday.” I’m like, “Alright, let me play you a song and you see if this the song, ’cause I think I might know the song you’re talking about.” So I played my song and she was like, “Bro, that’s the song.” I said, “That’s me.” And she was floored and like, “Yo, I think it’s dope. I had no idea.” Da-da-da-da. In another instance, I hopped in an Uber, pre-COVID, I hopped in an Uber headed home, and when I got in, the Uber driver was playing one of my songs. It’s like little things like that that’s been happening, that’s showing me like, “Something that I’m doing is connecting with people in a real way.” So it just helped me focus where I’m like, “Keep building, keep elevating.”
I saw people were actually buying the physical digital album, which I feel like is kind of rare for a lot of new artists right now.
Yeah, but man, so many… One dude Cash App’d me. He bought the album, and then he hit me up and was like, “Bro, this album’s worth more than $10.” I was like, “Bro, I appreciate it.” And I didn’t even say nothing after that. I said, “I appreciate it.” He was like, “Drop your Cash App.” And I just said, “Thank you for buying the album.” He was like, “Nah, but drop your Cash App.” And then he sent me $100 cash for the album, bro.
Your content really touches on real-life and society and things that people need to hear. Your music is very for-the-people. what inspired you to really share those experiences and those truths through your music?
That’s a good question. You know what? I think I just recall back to when I fell in love with music and remember what it was about the music that I was falling in love with, that I connected with, and it was always real ass songs, that it’s like, “Damn, bro, even if I was 10 years old, I can’t relate to what he’s saying, but I know I can hear the genuineness in it and what the lyrics and how authentic it was.” And it just stuck with me growing up. I always try to gravitate towards something that I can feel. And so when it came to me making music, in my mind, everybody in life pretty much go through the same thing or some variation of it.
Not everybody has an artistic expression where they could write something down, whether it be a poem or whether it be music in general, to express themselves. So who’s going to speak for those types of people who are going through this? That’s what I think about. Not everybody wanna turn up, and I love turn-up music. You feel me? But you can’t turn up 24 hours a day and sometimes you’re gonna have to sit with yourself. Sometimes you’re gonna have to really analyze the world and see what’s going on, you know what I’m saying, or a relationship that you might have with a female or your mom or whoever. I pull from, like, “Okay, let’s really touch on topics and subjects that the everyday person could touch… Relate to.
Another reason, I’ve never really been a trendy person ’cause… I don’t know. I don’t know. I guess when I came up, for me, you never… I know this is different, but you never wanted to be in the same pair of shoes that somebody else had, you never wanted to be in the same clothes. People would take trips out of town to go get different shit. So when you pull up at school, you just wanted to stand out and not… I think that’s the best way to be, individuals. You know what I mean? Individualism.
Talk to me about time and work that went into Flowers. I think I saw somewhere, it took two years almost, right?
I dropped To Whom It May Concern in 2018. And so the reason why it took me so long to drop Flowers is because I was constantly pushing that body of work. And someone told me, “If it’s good music, then just keep pushing it and something… It may catch. Some people have songs that’s two, three years old, and that’d be the one that blow them up.” So when it came to Flowers, like I said, I’ve been pushing To Whom It May Concern. So then in the midst of that kind of running its course and people saying like, “Yo, when are you gonna drop another project? When are you gonna drop another project?” I started picking up with Flowers.
I started, I would say, I think like May of 2019. I was in Atlanta, actually. And one of my homeboys, Bravo, he lived down there. He’s from DC, but he was out in Atlanta. And that’s when we did Heaven’s Kids. And then from there, I just continued to write and listen to hundreds of beats. That’s another part that people don’t know. You listen to hundreds of beats, some of them is trash. You know what I’m saying? Some just don’t fit the project. So it really is a process. But yeah, cracking from May 19th to… I finished, I think, either December 20 or either maybe like January this year.
Talk to me about the title and what the whole overall message behind the project was.
With the title, when I thought about flowers, I just kept thinking about, “What do flowers mean to people?” You know what I’m saying? We give people flowers in celebration. We give people flowers in passing. You know what I’m saying? And then I also thought about just the terms of people knowing that they’re worth… They deserve flowers, but people not necessarily can recognize that to give you the flowers. So it’s like, so it’s many different meanings for me. But also, the rose from the concrete idea, I feel like as Black people, we’ve come from may not be… Maybe different environments, maybe harsher environments, but we still blossom into beautiful people. There’s beautiful experiences that come out of the struggling and tough times. So I feel like if you listen to this project, there’s gonna be something that’s on there that’s gonna connect with you in some different form, whether it’s the celebration, whether it’s the struggle, whether it’s the environment that caused the rose from the concrete situation.
Let’s get into who helped you on the project? Producers? Who was involved?
So most of the beats came from BeatStars. I just would go on there and listen to them and buy them. But one dude on there, number two, Heaven’s Kids, Dar’rell Banks, he’s a Virginia producer. So I met him and worked with him on my last project, found him on SoundCloud, ended up DMing him on Twitter. He lived in Manassas, Virginia at the time. So I just drove out there and met him face-to-face, and told him what I was trying to do, and bro just been sending me beats ever since then. And that was like three years ago, maybe four years ago.
He’s tough, he’s a real good dude. Who else is on there? Let’s see, Othellobeats. All of these people… Yeah, really just BeatStars. I went on there and found beats that I thought was dope. Oh and one other dude, D.Woo, who produced What Love Is. So I got a guy by the name of Ka’ree, who designs a lot of my merch and other little things for me. He’s real dope. He does a playlist where he just randomly puts different artists or different producers on. And I was listening to one of his producers, and I’m like, “Yo, who is this? This dude is fire.” And he was like, “That’s D.Woo.” So he connected us with him. I ended up buying a beat from him. And it turns out that later on, D.Woo went on to produced “Sue Me” for Wale off his new project.
What influence do you as an artist want to have on the world with your music?
My influence, I just want people to be themselves. Know that it’s okay to be you. Whatever it is that’s about you, it’s okay. Don’t let nobody shame you. Don’t let nobody tell you or steer you into doing something else, and also to really analyze what’s going on around you. Really be aware of what’s happening, how you feel in this particular moment. That’s what I would want my influence to be as an artist, someone that’s gonna make you like, “Okay, yeah, let me be aware of what’s going on. Let me be comfortable in my skin, who I am.”
Check out Flowers on all platforms now!