The Madison rapper joins us to discuss the new album he'll be celebrating with a Jan. 2 show at The Frequency.
We've been waiting for a proper new release from Madison rapper Sincere Life since 2013's Write Of Passage EP, which showcased his raspy flow on tracks ranging from the pensive morality tale "Three Kings" to the contentment-oozing weed jam "White Grape White Owls." Sincere Life, real name Craig Smith, will kick off 2016 with the release of a new album, King Poetic Vol. 1, which he'll celebrate with a Saturday, January 2 show at The Frequency. (He's also playing a bill of Wisconsin hip-hop artists on Jan. 7 at the Majestic.)
King Poetic Vol. 1 reflects a period of transition and experimental from an already versatile and restless MC. Opening track "Intro" sets a more cocky and playful tone than you might expect from a somewhat reserved and lyrics-obsessed rapper, with Smith declaring "I rap like when I write I got an extra me" and, perhaps more out of character, joking that his girlfriend is so hot that "she get broke off like leprosy." The 31-year-old MC still has his vulnerable moments here, especially on "Freewrite IV," which tackles the self-doubt that creative people struggle with: "Please lord, I know you know this pen my sword / and I'm just trying to when the war when I press record / they fiend for gore, but that ain't what I need it for / this what I used to love and now can't find a meaning for."
That struggle is reflected in the album's variety of moods and production styles, and it can be a bit jarring from track to track."Lane Switch" finds Sincere boldly asking a woman, "now tell me if your man can get left tonight," alongside a suave hook from Arkansas R&B singer Livesosa, but even then, there's room for a bit of self-deprecation: "While everybody over-exaggerate how they ends flow / I'm in that '03 Mercury that I whip like a Benz though."
Smith joined me this week to talk about some of the specific tracks on the new album and how he's been evolving as an artist these past few years. You can also hear some excerpts of the new stuff in our conversation.