Artist to Watch: Liam B. Smith

Liam B. Smith is an indie rock artist from Virginia. His latest single, entitled “Keep Your Head Up,” is a wonderfully refreshing reminder of a time when rock wasn’t afraid to showcase the fun elements of pop.

The instant the track starts, you can’t help bobbing your head. The combination of Liam’s clean vocals, a catchy chorus that begs for listeners to sing along, and lyrics that are so relatable creates a song that rivals most of what is currently being played on mainstream radio.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out “Keep Your Head Up.”

Follow Liam on Twitter.

Subscribe to his YouTube.

Like his page on Facebook.


Artist to Watch: Jude Buckingham

Artist: Jude Buckingham
Genre: Rap
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

I first met Jude in May at one of Almost Kings’ hometown shows. That night, he joined the Atlanta natives onstage for a cover of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” He joined them on the road following that night, and I have had the pleasure of watching him perform multiple times in the months since. I decided to check out his solo work and was quickly convinced I needed to spread the word about him.

Not being overly familiar with rap as a whole, and therefore unsure how exactly to describe what I was hearing, I asked for others’ input on Jude as an artist. Bryan Bozeman, vocalist for Almost Kings, had this to say:

“He has that Detroit grime with deeper meaning…”

And Adam Palka, a producer who has worked with Jude extensively, offered this description of his music:

“As far as I can describe, Jude has the kind of style that no matter what song you’re listening to, you’ll always have your head bobbing. He’s got a deep lyrical flow that can appeal to people that are looking for genuine hip hop. The kind of stuff that reminds you of hip hop back in the day, but also has a new style to it. Every song he makes is something new and he’s always trying to push the envelope further. Real hip hop fans love his music because they know he’s got a lot of talent and always delivers on every track…”

Neither Boze nor Adam were fully willing to compare Jude to any current rap/hip-hop artist, though when pushed, Boze answered with Eminem. It is easy to understand why that parallel was drawn; it has been repeatedly emphasized that Eminem raps about things that are relevant and real, things that the average person can easily relate to.

That was the thing I immediately zeroed in on when listening to Jude–the fact that his lyrical content had that same kind of meaning. He writes about everyday subjects that have or will affect most people at some point in their lives. Take this excerpt from the track “My Mind” as an example.

“…Yeah, dig deep within yourself, I know what you’ll find/It’s not what you have, but what you leave behind/A memory, a chain of events/So where you stand, which side of the fence?/You wanna make an impact on your people?/Then do it now, your life has no sequel…”

For a better grasp of what Jude is all about, I did a very brief interview with him.

Me: When did you first know that you wanted to be a rapper? I mean…who or what did you see/hear that made you say to yourself “I want to do that”?

Jude: I learned early that writing was something I was passionate about, around 10 or 11 years old. I wrote poems, entered contests and things like that. My brother put me on to music early as well, Nirvana, The Offspring, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Dr. Dre, etc. I grew up well rounded in different genres and different styles. In high school one of my closest friends began to rap quite a bit. He was extremely talented, and pushed me to really focus on hip hop and that writing process.

Me: Who are your biggest influences?

J: My influences come from people in my life and my experiences. Being able to express my opinion the way I’d like to. As far as artists go, Eminem has always been an influence. I’m fortunate enough to have a mentor who is, in my opinion, one of the best to ever do it, Boze [Almost Kings]. One of the most underrated artists, the guy is a machine. His work ethic and skill in his craft are unbelievable. The experience I get from working with him on a daily basis is priceless, couldn’t ask for better.

Me: From where do you draw most of your inspiration for lyrics?

J: Inspiration for lyrics come from my day to day life. The people around me. My ups and downs. Music for me is my outlet. I can express any emotion, any way I choose. It’s truly a blessing to have this outlet.

What do you hope to do with your music? (Be a millionaire, help people, etc.?)

J: With my music I truly hope to inspire people. Help people get through things. Of course the normal rapper answer is “I want to make a ton of money” and all that, but money to me isn’t important. It comes and goes. I have the ability to live forever by giving people a piece of me in the studio. That’s something money can’t buy.

I fully encourage you to head on over to YouTube and listen to these tracks.

My Mind
Your Fault
What You Got? (ft. Ryan Mac and Swainoh the Kidd)

If you like what you hear–and you will–go to iTunes and buy his EP! I was given the opportunity for a sneak peek into what’s next for Jude and I’ve gotta tell you…he’s only getting better.