D Smoke (born Daniel Farris) is a veteran musician and songwriter, having produced for artists like Jaheim and Joe in his early twenties, in the late 2000s. This comes as no surprise when considering his musical heritage. His mother toured with Stevie Wonder and his uncle with Prince. He collaborates often with them and his brothers, Davion and SiR of Top Dawg Entertainment. However, Farris uses Black Habits to introduce himself to his new-found audience after winning Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow, a reality TV show where Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I. hold a competition to find the next breakout hip-hop star. Released only four months after his EP Inglewood High, named after the high school he attended and later returned to to teach Spanish, Black Habits begins on a morning in his childhood with his mother and brothers and branches out to his influences: environmental, familial and ancestral. Primarily recorded in his bedroom in Inglewood, California, Farris utilises sounds from the neighbourhood to compose a classic rap album complete with interludes and storylines. He expresses boisterous bravado on tracks like “Bullies” and “Gaspar Yanga”, featuring Snoop Dogg. Other tracks, like “Sunkissed Child”, featuring Jill Scott, and “Like My Daddy”, are reflections on unconditional love and the nuance of addiction. Farris sat down with Apple Music to break down a few of his favourite records from the album.
Morning Prayer/Bullies “‘Bullies’ was produced by D.K. The Punisher when he was my roommate. I think of ‘Bullies’ and ‘Morning Prayer’ as an extension of the same piece—‘Morning Prayer’ explains ‘Bullies’. It was me following instructions: not letting nobody push over us or mess with my brothers or talk about pops locked up. The first bullies were in the house. Me, Davion and SiR, Sir Darryl, we're all super close in age, one year apart, each of us. We have a brother that's 10 years older than me. It was training. Bullies exist, and people become who they are because of them. But after all is said and done, if you make being a bully your life’s business, you're whack.”
Gaspar Yanga “My mentor and one of my managers, DJ Shanxx, said, before the song ever came about, he was like, ‘You got to do a song on there about Gaspar Yanga.’ Gaspar Yanga is a Mexican general of African descent who defended his town against the Spanish invasion, and until this day, this town in Mexico near Veracruz has a strong population of Afro-Mexicanos, Afro-Latinos. It's me kind of invoking that. I'm unapologetically black and I'm doing my Spanish shit. And embracing that and putting that forth in the song with that kind of aggression, and the duality of English and Spanish. I wrote the hook, but then I was like, 'You know what? I really think Snoop will be dope on this,' because it recreated the moment that the world saw between me and Snoop. We'd make it authentic for the city, because that was a real West Coast moment.”
Real Body “‘Real Body’ is one of those songs I did when I was working on Inglewood High, but I knew I needed a feature because of the subject matter. It's not my place as a man to determine what a woman's body is supposed to be. The verse explains that, but the song title alone can allow for people to be like, 'What you trying to say?' I wanted to just appreciate different body types. So I wrote my first verse and the hook, and then it sat for a minute. Then, I connected with Ari [Lennox]. I didn't advise her on anything. I believe that's how it's supposed to be when you ask somebody to get on your song. You've got to let them do what they do, because that's what you want. You want them.”
Fly “‘Fly’ is produced by Mars from 1500. It came after Rhythm + Flow was filmed. Me and Mars had been meaning to get in the studio for a long time. I came up with the hook, and I actually wrote my verses in the booth. It's mainly a reflection. It was recorded after I finished the show and knew I won. It’s gospel-music-length. I was going to leave it at that, but Davion had been in the other room writing. I was like, 'Bro, look, we did the collaboration thing. This is my song. This is about a moment I had.' He was like, 'Just listen to what I got, all right?' So then he sang it for me. I was like, 'Damn, that's hard. All right, go record it. Sh—.' It just speaks to how much these are shared moments. That he was there when it happened. They feel a little bit of what I feel.”