12+10 – [Na-Kel Smith]

Na-Kel Smith has been on my radar for quite some time for various reasons. I first found out about him because he used to run with the Odd Future crew who I was basically obsessed with throughout high school, so I pretty much knew every single member of their group whether they made music or not. Then I quickly realized that Na-K was actually an extremely talented skateboarder who skates for various brands like Supreme and Fucking Awesome. Due to the fact that I’ve always had such a deep appreciation for skate culture and have grown an equally admirable adoration for streetwear culture, it only made sense that Na-Kel was someone I had to keep my eye on. Then, out of nowhere a couple of years ago, he started making music and I had no choice but to tune in.

His most recent offering is entitled “12+10”, and it shows off another side of his artistry that isn’t always on display. When it comes to his music, he has shown off a plethora of skills from impressive flows to wild screams that bring insane energy, and everything in between, but this song is a lot more relaxed and nonchalant that some of the other music I’m familiar with. The beat is super simplistic, utilizing humming in the background as a sort of melody while high hats and consistent drums set a minimal basis for Na-K to do his thing. When he does come in, he actually sings in a very lighthearted, cloudy fashion that pairs nicely with the ad-libbed humming and crisp percussive elements.

He sings slightly as his vocals have a splash of autotune in order to provide even additional sonic pieces to this offering and the delivery he uses almost sounds similar to a cadence I’ve heard 645AR use, just not nearly as shrill, whatsoever. He seems to display some passion behind his words, stretching some of them out for brief moments in order to stress the importance of his message. This message, along with other ideas as well, seems to include the fact that he grew up struggling but had to work hard throughout his various endeavors to not only make a better life for himself but to also make a better life for his mom and the other group of people who surround him and support him.

He also includes a music video for this track, and I was a big fan of the style he opted to use because I feel like it matches the overall sonic vibe of the song itself. It opens up at what looks like it might be the Venice Beach Skatepark as grainy footage shows Na-K hitting a flip trick with ease down a four stair as observers cheer him on. Out of nowhere, the song starts up and the similarly grainy filter is used, making it feel like we’re watching an old-time skate video. There are additional clips of him skating and having a good time with his friends while other frame-in-frame shots are shown of stacks of money being sprawled out on the center console of a car. Eventually, side-by-side shots show him dancing around in the sand at the beach next to a close-up shot of him spitting his lyrics with a mouth full of gold grills as he drives a car. Soon enough, he takes us through a car wash and shows off the stacks of $20 bills that he’s fanning out for the camera to take in and envy. I just enjoy this video a lot because it almost seems like he just woke up one day and wanted to record something, so although it might not be the most intricate of visuals, it has a lo-fi aesthetic that I just find so appealing, especially when it comes to the skate clips as well.

Na-Kel Smith is a one of a kind talent, and that’s just an undeniable statement. The fact that he has not only dabbled in so many various industries but proved that his aptitudes were prominent in these different trades is undoubtedly admirable. I also enjoy the fact that he knows how to bring all of his different worlds together considering he includes his music in skate videos but also includes skateboarding in his music videos, meshing his two lives together and cluing fans in on all of his different talents. Beyond this, I almost completely forgot that he has even acted in things such as the Odd Future Adult Swim sketch show Loiter Squad and Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s, making it appear as if there isn’t anything Na-K can’t do. 3000nakteen, his latest project which came out last October, was such a great listen but I can’t wait until we get another project, so hopefully, something will be on the horizon soon enough. While we wait, though, make sure you tune into Na-Kel Smith’s most recent offering “12+10” as soon as you possibly can.