“I’ve trained myself to not look too far into things until they materialize,” says D Smoke of how he felt the night before the 2021 Grammy nominations were announced on Tuesday (Nov. 24). “I figured if I didn’t raise my expectations too much then there’s no real disappointment to experience. But in doing so, once the news came I was through the roof. Literally, my voice is tired today from all the yelling I’ve been doing.”
D Smoke, who won the 2019 Netflix hip-hop competition series Rhythm + Flow — hosted by Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I. — was nominated for best new artist and best rap album at the 2021 Grammys, for his debut LP that arrived in February. Titled Black Habits, the set hit No. 2 on Billboard‘s Heatseekers Albums chart and includes features from his mother (who toured with Stevie Wonder) and his uncle (who toured with Prince), as well as Jill Scott, Ari Lennox and Snoop Dogg among others.
“I had to re-celebrate over and over again, because that project is such a collective body of work from the producers I collaborated with to the features,” says D Smoke, 35. “I had to get on the phone with Snoop Dogg and thank him for doing that feature [on “Gaspar Yanga”] that just put us in front of so many people.” The song’s music video has over 10 million YouTube views.
The rapper born Daniel Farris says everyone from Jesse Collins (veteran TV producer and creator of Rhythm + Flow) to John Legend to T.I hit him up after the news broke to share their congratulations. As a result, he says: “It’s a beautiful moment to have, regardless of what the outcome is.”
D Smoke says while he loves being part of the best new artist class this year — alongside other rappers like Megan Thee Stallion and Chika — he’s most excited about how the voting committee selected the contenders for Best Rap Album. “It’s reflective of a need for something more in rap,” he says. “This is a time for rap that speaks to us at more than a surface level. Having gone through something collectively as a nation, as a world, we’re seasoned differently by our experiences, and so rap that comes from an artist who has substance and knows how to articulate themselves at a higher level, I think it’s a perfect time for best rap album to reflect this type of artist.”
He plans to let the pieces fall where they may, in terms of securing a win, and says that the nominations are validation enough. “It put me in the conversation of those considered for the highest honor in music,” he says. “I naturally feel a great deal of responsibility to make music that one: confirms that people selected correctly, and two: continues to inspire, entertain and uplift people. But whatever happens that night, I’m proud, primarily because of the company I’m among.”