- “Zero Gravity” feat. PhourTheLove
- “Black Diamonds” feat. Adam Reverie, James Gardin, Red Pill, & PhourTheLove)
- “Not You”
- “Moving Along”
Television has played an important part in plenty of our lives. Some of my earliest memories are me trying to impersonate everything I saw on the TV screen and I’m sure you have memories like this as well. As a kid you look at television as entertainment and an escape from your reality. Once you get older you start seeing the underlying concepts and stories that some shows capture thanks to brilliant writing. I studied Communications in college and took several classes dealing with television’s impact on our everyday lives; let’s just say that it affects us more than we even realize. For his first project Detroit artist Jahshua Smith took us on an adventure of what it would be like to go behind the scenes on a TV show with The Final Season. He follows that up this year with his sophomore project, The 4th Wall (no there aren’t Deadpool references but yes the fourth wall gets broken).
Smith isn’t your typical artist and his concept to do a project about a TV show and then follow it up with an “encore” season are good indicators. The 4th Wall is a self aware project in every sense of the phrase; each skit interaction precedes a song that it’s about. For instance “Zero Gravity” has a skit at the end that has Smith talking with an executive from the studio, Executive Huff, with the two discussing the target demographic of women they’re trying to hit for ratings. This is followed up by “Play” feat. Yellokake, a track that’s aimed at the ladies. The song is filled with playful lyrics and X-rated ones as well (“when the beat is on finna eat box till the pizza’s gone”).
I like that Smith stays in the pocket of how a studio television show would play through the entire album. You have different tones for different songs, such as the uplifting records like “Black Diamonds” but you also have a song like “Grey Goose Quesadillas” feat. Mic Write that sounds like the corporate party record. While this is a song to add to your “drinking songs” playlist, it fits the mold of how a network television show would handle the subject matter. It doesn’t follow suit to what’s on the radio yet you can still see yourself rapping along to the chorus while Crown and Coke spills out of your glass.
Albums in the last few years have begun to lack replay value. Smith makes sure that isn’t the case on The 4th Wall as you can run through the album and play it back again to see what things you’ve missed in the concept. There are also individual records that will be added to your playlists, such as “Zero Gravity” feat. PhourTheLove and the aforementioned “Black Diamonds” feat. PhourTheLove, Adam Reverie, James Gardin, and Red Pill. This record deals with police brutality as well as Black Americans knowing their self worth. It’s a powerful song and the addition of Red Pill, who’s white, to share his place in the subject is a great touch by Smith.
While there are quality songs all around the project, including the uplifting and introspective “Changes Pt. 2”, things hit a snag with the PhourTheLove assisted “Superpowers”. Where “Grey Goose Quesadillas” fits into the network theme perfectly this track comes off cheesy and the hook just doesn’t do much. It’s a skippable track but the only one on the album so I’ll take that tradeoff any day of the week.
The 4th Wall does an excellent job of making you see what Jahshua Smith is talking about on each song. The skits put the pieces together for you and the production stays steady throughout; there’s nothing out of the ordinary thanks to producers StewART and KuroiOto. While the “show” comes to an end I feel Smith has a lot more creativity in the tank and will come up with more great music in the future.
4 out of 5