By Georgina


23 Jun 2013

With a brilliant beat selection and production to be proud of, Thai’s mixtape Smooth is a great effort for a second release.

The Birmingham-based rapper has put together a well thought out selection of tracks using some of the most popular beats of the past 12 months, including Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s top hit Poetic Justice and Wiz Khalifa and The Weeknd’s sultry Remember You. Contrasted with more seasoned samples such as Michael Franks’ St Elmo’s Fire (which one could argue is a particularly predictable choice for a mixtape track) and Rihanna’s Diamonds, the wide variety of instrumentals is logically thought out and perhaps one of the strongest features elements of the mixtape.

Production wise, it’s pretty good for someone who says they can only afford the sample, and not the entire beat on Weekend GIrls – course we believe ya Thai 😉 Jokes apart, the sound of the entire tape is vintage, yet not dated. There are plenty of 80s style tracks, which coincides nicely with the title Smooth.

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Since interviewing the artist and learning of his wish to collaborate with Drake, I can definitely hear the influence of the Canadian rapper, particularly on Life of Mine which offers listeners a radio-friendly hook with cleverly rapped verses offering punchlines for days. Since we’re on the topic of influences, Thai clearly holds different musical genres in high esteem, as a good handful of the tracks sample Motown-infused instrumentals along with soul, and more gritty sounding hip-hop.

A personal favourite is the aforementioned Weekend Girls, which, despite only being “for the over 25s” (still got a couple of years to go til I reach that milestone so I’ll wait til then for the replay) happens to be short but very sweet indeed. We Get High features the stunning jazz vocals of Michael Franks, and is another favourite for me. The guest verse from Will Blaze is my favourite feature also.

The take on Rihanna’s Diamonds is quite unique, despite the fact that this song has been covered more times than I care to remember in the past year. And what makes Smooth such a good effort from an entirely unestablished artist from outside the main core of UK urban music is that Thai is just that – unique. One downfall is that the range of topics and content could be explored further afield, but overall, Thai is a good artist. He manages to blend catchy hooks, insightful lyricism and a good standard of wordplay to ensure that you will listen to the follow up mixtape.

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