Kevon Smith (self-released)
While he was a student in Tri-C's Recording Arts Technology program, rapper K-Von recorded last year's Just a Thought, a collection of skits and Southern rap-inspired songs, in his bedroom. This self-titled release follows up on that album and generally keeps the positivity intact. The album starts out a bit more raw and rough as Smith raps about "taking it forward" in the album's intro. The break-up ballad "Feelings Too" shows his sensitive side as he puts the rapping aside to sing, "Who am I to trust and who am I to love?" "Without You" also has a low-key vibe to it. The autobiographical "Too Real," a song about "just trying to make it," makes good use of a gentle piano melody. In "Ignant," Smith does a good job of satirizing hip-hop culture while laying down a good beat at the same time. A talented wordsmith and rapper, Smith continues to evolve with every release.