Published in Indie Street Magazine
By Kandis Knight
“I can actually rap and make good records,” laughs the “soon to be everywhere” 17-year-old Philadelphia emcee K-Smith, when asked what distinguishes his music career from that of his “uber” famous uncle’s. If you have not heard by now, Will Smith’s nephew turned protégé K-Smith a.k.a. “The Real Fresh Prince” is already beginning to make the industry stir.
If you don’t believe me, check out his first debut single titled Better Man, featuring none other than the King of teenage crooning, Omarion. -Was that a torch being passed in that video? K-Smith is perfectly positioned and aiming for teeny bopper super stardom.
“We didn’t go to a label yet, I am fortunate enough to know someone who can fund my project,” laughs K-Smith, the former basketball shooting guard. “I called “O” (Omarion) up personally and asked him to get on the record,” says Smith, exhibiting full strength Smith family swagger.
K-Smith’s debut album, titled Streetz to Hollywood will be released first quarter 2008 on Overbrook (Will Smith’s label)/The Coalition (The Coalition is also home to rapper Eve).
The title is a reflection of the storyline of Will Smith’s popular 80’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Just like elder Smith’s former sitcom character, K-Smith was “rescued” off the ruff and rugged streets of Philadelphia by his rich Hollywood uncle. If art imitates life, this is a case book example.
“They wild ‘n out in Philly right now! I go back to Philly, to see my little brother, family, and the rest of my friends. In Philly, they show me the most love, its crazy, I think they are happy that I am from Philly and I got a cross over record because every time I go back to Philly they show me so much, love, the radio stations, the people,” chuckles the up beat young charmer.
K-Smith quickly admits life prior to his uncle’s intervention was typical for an inner city African-American male. “My real dad, I didn’t know him…I was around the wrong crowd, I was raising myself, I was getting into fights, little stuff with the law. I went to juvie (juvenile detention).”
Today things are a lot different for Smith whose business savvy can easily be traced back to Big Willy himself. “We were like, let’s go ahead, get the first single poppin’, get it number one, make it a smash then labels will offer more.” Smith promises once his music career slows down he will be heading to college to major in something music business related.
For now, team Smith is loaded and poised for supernova status. It is a good thing this Philly kid is not lacking any confidence. “I feel like the only time there is pressure is when you are insecure or unsure of yourself, when you are not sure if you can come through in a clutch,” he interjects. “Me (pauses) getting into the music industry, they call me “Will Smith’s protégé”, so it makes him relevant again in the music industry.”
It will be interesting to see K-Smith’s talent emerge from behind his uncle’s “larger than life” shadow. However, K-Smith is quick to explain, that what we will hear on Streetz to Hollywood is genuine to him as an artist.
“He doesn’t dictate anything to me, so I have all control over my project as far as the creative process, but he definitely is working with me on the business side of things. He is helping me to set myself up as a brand and not just as a musician, setting myself up so I have a long career.”
And to the “nay sayers” who are already forming their opinions, Smith promises he is not a fly by night artist. “A lot of artists don’t know how to set themselves up as a brand. They are misled. There are a lot of artists who can make a hot song but they are not stars.” His eyes twinkle. “You can see a star…you can see them, when they walk in a room they light it up. They draw people to them.”
Drawing people in is not difficult for Smith, definitely a family trait, like rising straight to the top. Thanks to his uncle’s rolodex, K-Smith is already well known in music industry circles and is excited to work with everyone, especially the young hit makers. “I will work with everybody, Lil’ Mama, we are in talks to work with now, Omarion, Bow Wow, B5, they are all my people, everybody in the whole young movement.”
Like his uncle Smith is covering all ground, so he is also working closely with music veterans also. “I just got out the studio with DJ Drama and Cannon, I was in with T.I.’s people the other day. I have really been working, getting it popping. My uncle tells me you can’t just get into the music industry, now it is like a three year run and you have to go hard, you have to constantly be in it. You have to constantly give it your all. It is hard work.”
So what has been the biggest lesson Uncle Will has taught? “The greatest lesson I have learned this year is patience. It is not overnight success. I promise you that…I shot my video four months ago and we are just now getting to release it. Everything is a process, you got to set everything up the right way.”
Although this is K-Smith’s debut album, he has been trained by the best to be ready for this moment. “The music industry right now is missing artists that can make full albums. You have hot singles and hot songs on the radio but there are not a lot of people who know how to make a full “hot” album, you know, a good album. And a lot of artists don’t know how to brand themselves, it’s not about the record, it is about the artist. Their record is bigger than them.”
As for his album, K-Smith says it will be “young, sexy with a little bit of edge to it. I got a lot of records for my ladies because, you know, I am a lover boy. I am a ladies man.”
Speaking of ladies men, we can expect Will to dust off his emcee skills and bless us with a few hot versus somewhere on Streetz to Hollywood. “My uncle is a busy man, his schedule is crazy but we get in and do some things in the studio,” he laughs. “We got some things on the album for y’all, trust me, me and Jeff (DJ Jazzy Jeff) are going to get into that also, there might be a couple big shows that we got working on where Jeff might be my DJ since I am the real Fresh Prince. Who knows?”
For more information visit: http://www.myspace.com/ksmithmovement