Hailing out of Broward County, hip-hop's bubbling hot spot, is Marlo Smith, an emcee whose raps sound like it's bouncing off a razor's edge. On his recent project, the spitter paints vivid tales of the young Black 'Merikan experience with his rapidfire rhyme scheme. Speaking on his rise to the mic and using his craft to spread a voice.
How did music become your calling?
As a kid I was into everything, but music was something I took to right away. My friends started calling me "Jukebox" in elementary school because I was able to repeat every song word for word after only hearing them a few times. But at the time, I didn't think to pursue it. It didn't seem like a realistic future. My parents are both West Indian and any career in entertainment was frowned upon. But that didn't deter me from writing or freestyling. It didn't really become a "calling" until a few years ago. Then I realized that my music resonated with everyday people from all walks of life.
What was your thought process behind your new record?
My new project is called Black Boy. It's from my perspective on the experience of growing up as a black boy in America.
The song "Hermes & Violence" was produced by Kloud9 and it's the last track on the project, but also the last one I recorded. It came together pretty quickly since it was a depiction of where I was at during that time. It's about the confidence in taking a leap of faith. The most important line on the song is when I say, "and I hate my job! I don't need the money, I need to take the leap / I need some time to me at least a week." Do you know how many people hate what they do every day? Man, most people do and they think "this can't be life." But anything is possible. Right now, I'm talking to you, right now I'm on REVOLT. You just gotta get after it. And you can't wait on someone else to tell you to do it.
I tell myself these things because it's really an act of therapy. "I can't reserve my thoughts it makes me weak / I take apart the parts that start to squeak and all my teeth are gold but I'ma geek." I went off on a tangent, but it's about the thoughts behind the things that I'm reluctant about, the things that I'm uncertain of and vocalizing my missteps. But simultaneously, exuding confidence. Because that's what it means to be a black boy in America. To be lost and confused for the most part about our true place in society, but to also know that we are brilliant.
How has your story defined you?
I was born in New York City, but I spent my formative years in Broward County, Florida. That's where I'm from. It's also where my versatility was reared. Like New York, South Florida is a melting pot and if you go five miles in any direction, you are exposed to 30 different cultures. I soaked all that shit up. It's also where I learned to appreciate loyalty. I met most of my team (Uncharted) in high school and college so all of the relationships we carry are organic. It's important to me that we all stay down to come up together. These stories are all of our stories that I'm telling.
With a wide range of influences, how would you describe your sound?
Honest. It's true to me. I have up north influences that stem from the Roc-A-Fella tree. I love 'Ye and Hov and those guys but my favorite rapper is André 3000. He's my favorite person that I don't know. He's fearless and a risk taker. I'm versatile for sure and free flowing, but I'm only scratching the surface. My sound embodies whatever picture I'm trying to paint at the time. Most of the time there is angst and grit, and a lot of fast flows 'cause I have a lot to express. With each bar, I pack it in.
What impact do you hope to make in music?
I want my music to bring people together. From all walks of life. The project is titled Black Boy, but it isn't meant to alienate anyone. It's simply the first thing someone sees when they look at me and know without a doubt that is who I am. The music itself is my individual experience. This world is crazy. We all go though shit, but I want to shed light on the mental plights we all go through as humans.