Jack The Smoker: “Nas was my coming-of-age novel”

Jack The Smoker: “Nas was my coming-of-age novel”

Stories of dependence, of precariousness, of complicated relationships, of economic crises, of shortcomings: all “taken up” by a rap that, like a camera pointed at the road, immortalizes a part of life. But, as often happens, a plot twist comes with the advancement of time, with maturity, with the awareness that it is possible to redeem oneself starting from small things and from love for others. Even if happiness is scary, it's too early for the credits. “Sedicinoni” by Jack The Smoker, produced by Big Joe, tells, in an effective and never banal way, the neighborhood and humanity in a cinematic way. Jack made his name in the early 2000s as the voice of the cult group La Crème, before joining the Machete Crew. This is his most ambitious and profound project.

“The starting point was 2020, with the album 'I'm late'an unlucky album due to contingencies, namely Covid – says the rapper – and if we rewind the tape even further: 'L'alba' by La Crème was a mega narrative album with suburban kids at its centre, then came the rap albums full of punchlines. After Machete Mixtape 4 something clicked in me: I needed to talk more about everyday life, what I experience, the neighborhood. A life that I rediscovered after having put aside the Milan of the evenings, the worldly Milan. I also became a father. My narrative priorities have changed, I needed to take a path that found an important balance between technique and content.” He takes a pause and continues: “All told with a classic but modern sound, a boom bap with today's shot. Working with only one beatmaker helped me a lot: Big Joe is solid, but varied. The story and the music are not stereotyped.”

“Sedicinoni” it's a personal album, but also a community one. “The second part of 'Compass' is a mix of personal stories, imagination and the vicissitudes of others. Then there are very personal pieces like 'From 0 to 18' or 'Pimp'. The latter is actually a bit of a singer-songwriter, but I didn't grow up with Italian music, no one in my house listened to it, I love black music – recalls the artist – but in fact something about this album, under that lens, can be read. The project talks about me, about friends, relatives, external people. 'Every Night Two Nights', for example, tells the story of the dynamics between me and my wife. And I really believe in the refrain which in short says: 'it's not freedom to do whatever the fuck you want'. This mix of stories is told with a cinematographic key and through many nuances”.

Collaborations are Massimo Pericolo, Salmo, Nerone, Ensi, Louis Dee, Gemitaiz, Conway The Machine of Griselda, American group standard bearer of classic but fresh rap, Shari. “It's the right time to make a record like this. The enthusiastic boom of 2016 has exhausted itself and has annoyed us, on the other hand it must also be said that rap that is too narrative risks being heavy with quotations as an end in themselves. For me rap cannot be stereotyped, it must be for the people, but tell somethingthe balance between form and content is the key to making a good project, my album follows this vision,” admits Jack.

And on the collaborations, all well calibrated and born of human relationships: “Many of the feats are friends, I think of Salmo and Gemitaiz. I didn't know Massimo Pericolo very well, we got close and found many things in common. Every collaboration really adds something, they are not watering downs, but additional values”, he specifies. “Sedicinoni” is an interesting project also for its musical atmospheres. “It makes you smile, but Big Joe and I saw each other twice in a year and spoke every day. Maybe working remotely, breathing down our necks, helped us – he concludes – Big Joe knows how to do everything, from trap to classic rap to the use of samples. An album was born at Queensbridge 2024, it's a Nas album even if I'm talking about Cologno Monzese and he's a legend (laughs, ed.). There is a particular atmosphere in which a story is set. Starting from my coming-of-age novels, I have produced a specific project that I believe in deeply.”