Smiley rules, and here’s proof

The Toronto rapper got a nod from Drake for his one-of-a-kind flow that’s ten toes down in the street.

July 19, 2018

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The FADER's weekly column What Rules highlights our office's new obsessions.

Who are they?

Name: Smiley
Style: Stark street bars rapped with a cadence that's light but fills the room with its presence, like a cloud of good weed.
Location: Toronto

Why should I listen?

Smiley, or Smiley_61st, got a lot of attention earlier this summer in the most 2018 way for a Canadian rapper: after Pusha-T dropped his Drake diss "The Story of Adidon," Drake's first public statement came in the form of lyrics from Smiley's "Free Baby," posted on his Instagram. That high-profile nod got a further boost when Drake identified Smiley's music as an inspiration during the recording sessions for his most recent album Scorpion.

But Smiley's got longevity way past whatever rap beef is popping off this week, and sauce to spare for any rapper that wants some. Backed by his crew OLN – consisting of fellow Toronto artists MK, Ryda and Homie – Smiley colors all of his solo songs with memorable moments. There's when he lapses into French on "Price," plays lyrical gymnastics with numbers on "Free Baby," and demonstrates a keen ear for hooks on "Body." His pen is full of a wit that's ideal for hip-hop, and what makes it shine are his vocals, tones someone else might use to scold a child or soothe a baby. Contrast that to his subject matter – the hypnotizing pull of life on the street, with all its highs and lows – and the result is something that sticks with you — like or not, buy or bye.

Where should I start?
Smiley rules, and here’s proof