About Justin Smith
Justin Smith and the Folk Hop Band is not satisfied with revolutionizing a genre, they created their own. The sound is unlike anyone else as the band fuses elements of hip hop and acoustic rock. A full band echoes a solid sound as Justin raps over top delicately placed background vocals and acoustic melodies. The music tells us stories from his worldview and with impressive spirituality. Coming from a grassroots fan base in South Carolina, Justin Smith is bringing sincerity back to Hip Hop.
The group sound is hard to describe. The positive folk style rap sounds a lot like Kanye West or the Black Eyed Peas (after adding Fergie, but before she stole the band). The musical side is a lot like Jack Johnson, and if you wanted to compare his style to a commercial product, it is a lot like the Black Eyed Peas/Jack Johnson collaboration “Gone Going”. The band brings much more to the table than sweet music; they have a powerful spiritual and community message. female background vocals provided by Elise Testone give each song a simultaneous pop and soul feel. When Daniel Strickland chimes in his own vocals it sometimes comes off as a very Linkin Park feel in their dynamic. The band is about as eclectic as a band can be without losing their own signature sound.
Live the band has a solid rock performance thet gives their rap styling a platform to stand upon. This saves them from that flat live sound suffered by so many hip hop artists. They play with power and give off a cool, save-the-world through-music vibe. The positive vibe of the music is inspiring, yet refuses to be preachy and the occasional poppy single gets everyone in the crowd singing along before the second chorus. As justin says in “Watered Down”, “I love my music like I love my drinks, if it gets watered down go ahead and pour it down the sink”. Justin Smith and the Folk Hop Band are a genuinely awe inspiring live act without watering down their mission.
The new album by Justin Smith titled “Sinner’s Prayer” is full of repentance from one who has sinned. This is not a religious album for the pious, but those who have been or are down with the sinners. The band plays to all of their talents vocally and instrumentally and the mix is solid. The stand out track is “Good Morning Beautiful” and it has a sweet radio love song sound that makes the girls weak in the knees. “There Was A Time”, and “Who’s That Man” are rife with sociopolitical messages and the medium for delivery is structured flawlessly.
Justin Smith and the Folk Hop Band have mass appeal without selling out their soul. They have potential not only to be hip hop stars, but revolutionaries in the vein of Kanye West, Common, Mos Def, or Talib Kweli. They bring positive vibes to an oppressed culture that wants a better life. Justin Smith is as honest and true as though you were talking to him as a best friend. “Sinner’s Prayer” is one of my favorite new albums and has already enjoyed a nice reception on my own radio program.