D Smoke on His Journey
from Reality TV Star
to Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics Performer

D Smoke

California rapper Daniel Farris has deep roots in music that go all the way back to meeting one of the legends of R&B and soul. Known professionally as D Smoke, the Inglewood, California native built his career off the strength of his community, often namedropping the hood he was raised in.

He gained national recognition in 2019 after winning a hip-hop competition show, which became the catalyst for what was to come next.

After conquering reality television, D Smoke’s newfound success led to the next chapter of his career — performing for Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics and collaborating on his Honey Jack music video, eventually landing an award nomination for his debut album Black Habits.

We spoke to the ambitious rapper on how he got his start in music, what inspires him creatively, his advice for emerging artists, and more.

The following interview has been lightly edited.

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Tell us a little bit about your professional background and how you got into music and rapping.

Music was something I was born into. My mom played piano and was a minister of music at my church. We got voice and piano lessons from my mom. My uncle played bass for [some soul legends]. I met one of them at my uncle’s 50th birthday party and [they] sang for him. As kids, we always saw him coming in and out of town, and he was the first person who let me make a beat on his equipment. So that was kind of our start.

What inspires you creatively?

A huge part of my artistry is shedding a positive light on my city, Inglewood. Inglewood is one of those places that’s only represented in one light, which is not false. It’s not that that kind of West Coast gang bang culture is foreign to Inglewood, not by any means. But there’s just so much more to it so I’ve always wanted to represent Inglewood in a more diverse light. My city and my family upbringing really inspire me to make music.

“Hey, we got this thing going on, come out here, check it out. I think the crowd would be dope for who’s been responding to your music.”

How did you first get involved with Jack Honey, Art, Beats and Lyrics, and what’s your relationship with the show?

We connected because I did a song called Honey Jack, and I was introduced to the drink by a homie in college. It was a storytelling piece like one of those nights where I’m drinking Honey Jack and I start talking my shit, you know? That’s how that song came about. Before I did Black Habits, we released Inglewood High independently and made the Honey Jack video on my own dollar. That’s how we got their attention and Jack Honey got behind the video to a certain extent. That’s how the relationship started so we just stayed in contact and kept collaborating on things like Jack Honey Arts, Beats & Lyrics

How have you seen the event celebrate and support emerging artists in a different way than other art exhibitions?

Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics was one of the first three shows that I did coming off the reality show. [Other shows were like] who is this kid? Should we get behind them? Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics was like, “Hey, we got this thing going on, come out here, check it out. I think the crowd would be dope for who’s been responding to your music.” They paid attention to a lot of things that other people would overlook. It was dope to see just how well curated the art was. It’s interesting performing for a crowd that doesn’t know your lyrics.

What’s been the most memorable aspect of your experience with the Art Beats & Lyrics community?

The most memorable aspect was the response afterward. It was just the response from people. I went out into the crowd, took pictures and enjoyed the art, and talked with people. They loved the music and asked about merch. I like to feel the energy of the people before and after, and afterward it was like they saw something they connected with. And this isn’t just a regular crowd — it’s people who appreciate art in its highest form.

What effect has being involved with Jack Honey Art Beats & Lyrics had on your career? And now since winning a hip-hop reality series?

It set me off on a trajectory that we look forward to continuing. I had done two shows and had several others planned to continue that relationship. I could tell that those were quickly going to become something dope because I was getting responses. My streaming numbers were going up. It gave us a real taste of what we had to look forward to, especially had we not gone into a lockdown and dealt with everything that we were going through now. It was right before quarantine that we had started that journey.

Can you walk us through a typical day at your studio?

It all depends on what the task at hand is. I like studios with musical instruments. I believe in brainstorming before you put the pressure on yourself to create something, and that takes different forms. Sometimes I sit down at a piano and I’ll play for an hour straight and feel things out. Then I’ll go over my list of things to get done. I think any artist with only one way of going about things is already shortchanging themselves.

What advice do you have for young, aspiring artists who are looking to make their own mark in the industry?

My main advice is to live life. I love writing music, I’ll even write sometimes when I’m driving or if I’m in a car. I like to write because something about being in motion around people, you feel the rhythm of the world you want to provide music for.

So living life is key. I’ve been writing for a long time, but it wasn’t until I had my own set of experiences that really informed me. It wasn’t until I had those experiences that I knew why I was writing and what I intended to do with it, and that just made my artistry more impactful. I’d rather have a million people completely moved by what I’m doing than 10 million people who heard it and they’re entertained, then move on to the next.