Train of Thought
D Smoke on "Glide" featuring Andre Harris
Interview: Robby Seabrook III
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

"Humble is the new Black/And godly is the new party, it’s fun to be the truth that/Don’t expire, can’t retire, I rumbled with a few cats/See, I’m in this Nia Dennis, I tumbled in the booth rap/I, I, I remember the day when I had to see mama to get a fresh meal and a shower/The end of the day I was greeted with love and reminded you carry the power/I opened the door and was hoping I’d get a plate and then be out in an hour/But she wouldn’t let me go quickly and hiding’s the way of the coward/She told me you still make the rules and the greatest ones all have they moments/Everybody want to hit the high notes, but, baby, that ain’t how your song went/The lows and the woes help you grow/You should know, keep building your own bridge/And if you need somethin', I got you/Some chicken, some greens, some cornbread/And now when you sing, it’s gon' be seasoned/They eating that shit till the bone left/You’ll get it if you keep on doin' right, even when everyone goin' left/And all of the best experience hard times in their lives/But even when I’m hurting, I look fly, uh"

XXL: You started the second verse with “Humble is the new Black, and godly is the new party.” Can you shed some light on what those lyrics mean to you?

Sometimes privilege or money or fame will kinda remove you from that human touch. So, to say, “Humble is the new Black,” you know, Black represents cool, being able to keep that human touch. That’s what really being cool is. People have so much access to information that they’re less impressed by the shit that used to work and impressed in like, you can’t pull up and just be flashy. It’s cool to be able to connect at a human level. And godly is the new party. It’s having a sense of principles and guiding values.

Your lyrics about your mother’s advice are powerful. Why did you explore that here?

When you get to a place where you got privileges and resources and a little wealth growing and a good reputation and brand, you look back at what it cost. It cost me opening a storefront and living in there. It had a sink, but it didn’t have a full shower. So, I literally would either go to Planet Fitness and shower or to mom’s house to get a fresh meal, a shower and some love. That just speaks to the type of relationship me and my mom had, where she can see it.

"Everybody want to hit the high notes, but, baby, that ain’t how your song went" is a great perspective on patience. What keeps you marching to the beat of your own drum?

Some of it was just a stubborn belief in self. The other one was a sense of responsibility to my family. My loved ones. My mom. The generations that did music before us and pushed it to as far as they could take it, and now it’s our turn to stand on they shoulders and do it. We had to do it, ’cause my uncle, he toured with Chaka Khan. He toured with Prince. He did his thing. My mom wrote world-class gospel songs and worked with famous artists, and in my opinion, if she didn’t have three sons, [she] woulda been side-by-side with them. Absolutely, we couldn’t play by the rules. We had to break the mold and make it. Which in music, to me, is being willing to choose a longer route sometimes, because sometimes they looking for the shortcut.

"And now when you sing, it’s gon’ be seasoned/ They eating that shit till the bone left." You use food as a metaphor for your career and your experiences. Do you see your unique path as an advantage?

Absolutely. I have the advantage of having a whole-ass life prior to my big break in rap. I been putting out shit since I was 18, but what you’ll find on the streaming sites is stuff since 2017. If I compare myself to the youngsters, then I’ma feel like I’m doing something wrong. But then when I listen to the shit I grew up on, I go back as far as Stevie [Wonder]. You gotta decide who you wanna be and stick with that, and I wanna be the artist that makes people feel like Stevie or like OutKast. It’s dope, but you also eating good food, home-cooked.

Read all about Grammy nominated rapper D Smoke's song "Glide" featuring Andre Harris in the 2022 XXL Freshman issue, on newsstands everywhere now. The issue includes additional interviews with the Freshmen featuring BabyTronCochiseSaucy SantanaBabyface RayKenTheManSoFaygoBig ScarrBig30KayCyyDoechiiKali and Nardo Wick, 2022 XXL Freshman producer Wheezy Outta Here, Lupe FiascoPi'erre BourneKevin GatesNLE ChoppaYvngxchris, producer DJ Dahi, engineer Teezio and singer Chlöe, plus a breakdown of every Freshman Class from a numbers standpoint, a look back at what the 2021 XXL Freshman Class is doing, the story of why the 2016 XXL Freshman Class gets so much respect now and exploring rappers' most valuable collections. You can also buy the 2022 XXL Freshman Class issue here.

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