SMOKE STATE 42222
Mike Dean is a master at separating his day job from his side hustle. The Houston-born producer/musician spent the ’90s working with Southern hip-hop icons Geto Boys and Scarface before collaborating with pop and rap royalty such as Madonna, Lana Del Rey, Kanye West, and Megan Thee Stallion. Dean’s solo work is a different beast entirely: synthesizer-based instrumentals that capture the essence of spacey, minimalist electronic groups such as Tangerine Dream. Whereas 2021’s 4:22 occasionally incorporated prog-rock textures and trap beats, SMOKE STATE 42222 is uniformly chill. The album is broken up into four songs and their accompanying individual stems, with Dean layering multiple tracks of oscillating keyboards that twinkle and streak like shooting stars—ensuring that SMOKE STATE 42222 comes off as the long-lost soundtrack to a retro sci-fi movie.