In his latest single, titled “Mentally I’m Somewhere Else,” Smilez teams with the right arrangement that lives up to his high creative standards while inviting new elements of swaggering indie pop into his sound. Aided by his own charismatic touch behind the board, Smilez launches into what could be described as his most emo rap-driven work to see release in his career thus far.
There’s a staggered and implied beat that ebbs and flows at the bend of the emotional lyrics and how they’re delivered to us, but despite the bevy of cosmetic fireworks, there’s never any debating the aesthetical substance of this track. “Mentally I’m Somewhere Else” shows us a Smilez who has evolved to meet the needs of the modern, casual hip-hop fan, and for what I look for in compelling pop music, his latest effort is a grand slam for sure. Although the vocals are easily the sexiest part of any harmony contained within this single, there’s a lot to be said about the lush quality of the instrumentation in “Mentally I’m Somewhere Else.” This mix puts a strong focus on the relationship between tonality and rhythm, and when taking into account how few producers have been working to amplify this component in an artist’s sound, this track is undisputedly a diamond in the rough. There aren’t any synthetic props or useless bands of artificial tension for us to sift through and get past in this song; contrarily, we’re offered a direct line to Smilez’s heart at the start of the single that never disappears from view for a second.
The beats here are non-percussive and have a moderate swing, particularly as Smilez refrains from the chorus, and it’s largely because of the efficiently-arranged piano. “Mentally I’m Somewhere Else” has a very beefy bottom-end tone, but it’s so delicately constructed to support the other elements in the track that it never sounds remarkably familiar on a surface level. Mundane musicality has no place on the left side of the dial, and in keeping with his pattern of ruling the underground with unpredictable compositional wit, Smilez leaves all the watered-down bells and whistles on the sidelines here. Players of this gen and specific caliber have no interest in including them in their work, and with this charming singer, he’s executing one of the most effectual pop songs of July by a long run. I was only somewhat familiar with the music of Smilez before I was reintroduced to his sound via this new single, but I intend on following his next moves for certain.
“Mentally I’m Somewhere Else” makes me want to explore his discography more than I did in the past, but I don’t think it’s a total departure from the style of play that won him so many fans at the start of his career. If there’s one thing he’s learned in his time that many of his peers never will, it’s that you’ve got to keep cultivating your craft long after you score your first hit. Smilez has never stopped adding to his war chest of sonic attributes, and for his efforts, it’s audiences who are being rewarded with killer new melodies this summer.
Donate to IndiePulse Music Magazine’s Academic and Music Education Scholarship Program HeartBeat4Kids
IndiePulse Music Magazine creates Scholarships to help Youth In Need of assistance to complete their educational goals and stay in school.