The first-time meeting Smiddy95, it was clear that he was born for the hustle of the game. From the gaseous backwood in his hand to his go-getter demeanor, he was ready to get after it. He stuck his hand out and introduced himself, even offering up a drag off the blunt, which was also when I realized I had met the gas man. We were at the Farm Festival, a small event in its first year of life in Milwaukee which took place on a local co-op garden in the middle of the city. The mood was green all around, and the day was spent spreading roots for the artists there. Unlike most of them, Smiddy95 was there for the long game, not just getting away from quarantine for the day, but that’s nothing new. Two week after the festival, we sat down and kick it, going back and forth trading stories of growing up in the Midwest. It is rare to meet a genuine individual who is open from the jump, but it took no time at all for us to be laughing, reminiscing about the similar stupid shit we had gotten into as kids. His demeanor is very unassuming, a positive aura around him that pushes outwards around him.
From the beginning Smiddy has spent his life changing up where he calls home. He was born in Ohio, spending the first couple years of his life there before his family moved north to Detroit. Dayton, Ohio and Detroit could not be more different, and being a smart kid, Smiddy took it all in. It was while living in Detroit that Smiddy was first introduced to hip-hop, being around his older cousins playing the likes of Eminem, Nelly and Ludacris. That didn’t mean he automatically found his way into the upper echelons of hip-hop, seeing as Aaron Carter was in his heavy early rotation. To be fair, rare is the individual who does not have some cringy moments in their early life, especially through a more developed lens. My own first real concert was the Jonas Brothers in 5th grade, what can I say, a girl was involved. It wasn’t long before Smiddy was uprooted again and the family headed on down to Chicago, to the Southside. If living in Detroit opened his eyes to hip-hop, living on the Southside of Chicago opened his eyes to the streets and the gang lifestyle so prevalent throughout the area. As an intelligent and naturally curious kid, it would have been impossible for Smiddy to remain ignorant of the signs. Literally the signs, like in a story Smiddy recounted of a friend throwing up a GD hand-sign in 4th grade. When he got home from school that day he asked his mom about it, and she explained it in a way that allowed Smiddy to form his own opinions. Obviously, it is impossible to avoid it fully when it’s all around you, and while Smiddy kept himself focused, he remained tight with friends who drifted deeper. Rap and school were firmly placed within his scope while peering into his future, and he used them as anchor points whenever things got a little crazy. Drive and determination are two character traits which have never been in short supply for Smiddy, as well as a deep love for those who have helped him throughout his journey. The combination of these elements allowed him to create music that is genuine and paints a picture with the words tumbling from his mouth. He can hop back and forth on different beats, collaborating with producers across the country to create what should be radio hits. Smiddy is married to the grind and never will he be divorced. It is too deeply ingrained within his soul. It is inspiring to those who can understand where he came from and where he is currently on his way too.
The origins of Smiddy95 as a rapper can be traced back to his 6th grade rap group, who were short-lived enough to remain unnamed. This wasn’t even close to a setback in Smiddy’s mind, as he went into high school. He didn’t yet know that he wanted to rap, just that he loved to write, especially those poetry assignments in his English class. Anyone who grew up in the 2000’s is familiar with the lunchtime ritual of pencils tapping on a desk or lunch table for a beat while a group of guys try their hand at rapping. Often, they are trash, and it will not end up making it further than the radius of the group. Smiddy would sit and watch, in his own head knowing that he could do it better than them, doing lyrical gymnastics in his own head as he stayed silent. Until one day, he came to school with a verse prepped and spit it for his homie Derrell, something totally out of the blue for Smiddy. After that, it was on. Derrell let him know that he needed to go way harder, teaching Smiddy about the intricacies of writing verses, finding flows and pockets in the beats. Throughout the rest of high school, the two would be inseparable as Smiddy grinded perfecting his craft, culminating in Smiddy dropping his first mixtape when he was 17. He was sick of wack sessions he would have to sit through in the studio, with dudes in there only for the money, putting in minimal effort before sending Smiddy on his way. He took it in stride, naturally, and learned how to produce and create on his own. It is no wonder that he decided to take it upon himself, it was a natural extension of his hustler mentality.
Smiddy has always been excelling in the classroom. His drive for the money kept him going through the boring classes and the countless days spent in a classroom. He attended Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men-Englewood Campus, an all-boys school who have a 100% matriculation rate, an incredible achievement anywhere, especially on the Southside of Chicago. Math was always an important factor in Smiddy’s life, when it came to figuring out how to turn his one dollar to two, two to four, and then four to eight. He has been hustling from a young age, supplying the sugar highs to fellow students by selling candy in middle and high school, burning CD’s and reselling them, selling lemonade on the block as a young kid. The money drove him forward, taking advantage of every opportunity that came his way. After graduating from high school, Smiddy took his talents to Beloit, WI where he attended the Beloit College. At one point during his college years he also spent 6 months living in England, working at a radio station as well as his rap career. While he was at Beloit, Smiddy jumped head first into the college radio station, running a hip-hop show and ingratiating himself to those in charge. The job also afforded him the added perk of free use of a full studio. Being able to really put the time and effort needed to make each song great allowed Smiddy to grow as an artist, and provided him a home base to work with other artists around him, and allow him to grow his own skill set. He has now graduated, with a degree in music with a minor in business, and has remained in Beloit because his hard work during school has paid off with continued access to the studio. The city is showing him love, and he is planning on showing every bit possible back. Smiddy continues to grow with each release, and his talent continues to open doors which he eagerly is walking through.
Smiddy95 is a consummate hustler. He continually pushes himself to grow and progress into new lanes, mastering the old ones, and understanding how to best use his voice for positivity. Lil Durk said, “Quarantine what? I’m tryma make a buck,”, and Smiddy couldn’t agree more, having spent the last six months networking and creating plays for himself both during and after quarantine. As he continues to grow as both an artist and an individual, there is no doubt that Smiddy will be successful. If he continues to apply his business intelligence to his career, there is no telling how far he will be able to go.