D Smoke released the seven-track album, Inglewood High, right after winning the first season of Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow to satiate his new fans. His following release, Black Habits, gained the studio treatment to build an album encapsulating a lifelong story personal to D Smoke. Black Habits is for the Inglewood community and celebrates Black excellence throughout. As explored in a follow-up interview for the Netflix series, D Smoke is a teacher in the neighborhood he was raised in and is always looking for ways to reinvest and champion his community.
The song “Bullies” and “Gaspar Yanga (featuring Snoop Dog)” at the top of the album pop with the most energy and are reminiscent of the performances that landed D Smoke in top consideration each week on the competitive series. The rest of the album slows the pace to showcase D Smoke’s pen game as he reflects on growing up in the inner-city. He includes clips of his mother’s advice to her children before they leave the door, a childhood prayer of his, and a collect call from his imprisoned father to illustrate D Smoke’s circumstances as a young man. The resulting product is a sentimental album rapped elegantly to illustrate Black resilience and beauty.
Black Habits weaves soulful, jazz, gospel, spoken word with a dose of Spanish, acoustic vibes, and a touch of synth to explore the central theme. The musical accompaniment is subtle to keep the focus on the lyrics packing each song of the sixteen-chapter album. It encourages repeat listening, as the delivery is more impactful than catchy. While achieving depth through each song, D Smoke misses out on the memorability that comes with ratcheting up the pace and keeping the lyrics short and sweet. Brevity is not always needed though, as D Smoke has a lot to say. Black Habits may not reach mainstream appeal, but it is a deeply personal project meant to inspire a younger version of himself as well as the kids of today growing up in similar situations.
D Smoke has a long career ahead of him, reinforced by his stoic work ethic towards family, community, the gym, and music. Throughout Black Habits, D Smoke touches on tough times that are all too common in America, but there is always a glimmer of progress and hope in his message. In his music video for the titular song, D Smoke rides a horse through an old slave plantation, before the shot spans to modern day where he is buying the plantation. Black Habits keeps in mind the past that shadows the present while celebrating the future of the Black community.