There’s a lot of intense interest in an up-and-coming rapper and songwriter by the name of Smilez at the moment, and while I tend to be particularly skeptical when it comes to the level of underground attention this guy is getting right now, he earns it in his new single “Open Ur Eyes” this September. Instead of developing a hook that centers on one instrumental element over another, his voice included, Smilez spreads the catharsis out as far as his lyrical charisma can stretch it in this performance, giving us an optimal look at what he can do with even the most rigid of arrangements when provided the creative control to spread his wings inside of the recording studio.
The rhythm creates a sense of cruising in “Open Ur Eyes” that adds to the casual feel of this player’s vocal delivery, leaving no room for the sort of indulgent beats that have become far too common in pop and hip-hop over the past couple of years. There’s just no time in this artist’s career for caving into the masses with regards to making something that will appeal to indie fans as much as it would the mainstream, and in the grander scheme of things, that makes Smilez one of the more determinedly underground songwriters making big noise on both sides of the dial today. He doesn’t need someone else’s path to attain some of the spotlight; from the looks of this piece, he’s getting everything he needs already.
You don’t need to auto-tune when you’re working with the kind of natural gifts that this vocalist is, and for the most part, Smilez doesn’t appear to have any difficulties giving us a richly organic performance supported by nothing more than his actual voice. There’s a heady rap influence here, but it’s dampened by the soulfulness of this player’s execution, which quickly becomes one of the most provocative points of interest as we get into the middle portion of the track. He’s controlled but not bleaching these verses of their color, which is a technique that a lot of his closest peers would spend the better part of their lives trying to perfect, though few will ever be so lucky.
A crisp and clear demonstration of his talents as both a performer and a songwriter you can trust to manage things on the other end of the glass, Smilez’s “Open Ur Eyes” gives us plenty of reasons to make the permanent decision to follow this artist from this day forward. The swagger is enough to get my heart pumping in this single, but when coupled with the other elements that wholly comprise the musical identity of who this artist is – and, perhaps even more importantly, who he wants to become through this career – there’s just no getting around the likeability of both “Open Ur Eyes” and the man responsible for giving it life. The vitality is real here, and I think it’s only going to spread through Smilez’s future discography.
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