Ohio Hip Hop Award winners Smoke Screen, the rap duo of Tommy Sheridan, “Chemist”, and Rodney Mynatt, “Mooke”, will celebrate ten years together with a new album and release party July 14 and 15.
The new album, Return to the Sun, is the next step for the rap outfit that continues to the push the boundaries of electronic-based rap music while still maintaining the “Cleveland sound” – minimalist, low-key background, industrial noise and the stark, in-your-face lyrics born in the north shore’s concrete jungle.
Smoke Screen’s first single from the new album, “Breakbeats and Bass”, was released in June and demonstrates progression in their version of the Cleveland sound. Mooke’s smooth, easy flow leads off the single in front of a slow, creeping jazz piano line; lyrics aren’t as much spoken as they are simply delivered from his lips. Chemist picks up in later verses; both rappers taking listeners through lyrical journeys that always make pit stops in Cleveland.
PressureLife was given an exclusive early listen to the new album. It’s a soft-punch from Cleveland hip-hop, a blunt reflection rather than a confrontation. The opening track, “Eternal Flame” is an electro-rock-tinged gem with Mooke and Chemist re-affirming their choices to become, and stay, artists. Album producers Uno Wa and Broken Keys lay heavy, smooth bass tracks under the melodies and maintain a minimal feel despite the layers of sound – it never feels overdone.
“[The album] is about reaffirming our place and celebrating ten years as a band, “says Chemist. “We’re excited to still be reaching people through music ten years in.”