Audio: Smoko Ono – “You Are” ft. Corinne Bailey Rae & UMI
The Prolific Chicago Producer Conjures an Ethereal Neosoul Atmosphere with Help From a Multi-GRAMMY Award-Winner, a Rising Singer-Songwriter, and Daniel Caesar on Guitar
It’s music to our collective ears: longtime British songbird Corinne Bailey Rae joins forces with up-and-comers UMI and Chicago producer Smoko Ono on “You Are.” From the electric guitar and smooth hip-hop drums to Rae’s elongated, climbing melodies, the track exudes sensual energy, setting the tone for an intimate evening in. – Billboard
“The song is a great little banger, stripped-down and catchy, with a synth riff that reminds me of some of the best club-rap of the early-’00s.” – Stereogum
“Smoko Ono is responsible for a lot of the beats coming out of Chicago in recent years.” – Complex
Helping shape the warm and soulful sound of his hometown Chicago music scene, Smoko Ono makes textured instrumentals that feel both warm and futuristic. Recruiting one of the most beloved voices in R&B for his latest single, Smoko shares “You Are” ft. Corinne Bailey Rae & UMI. A song about loving someone with the totality of your being, “You Are” is drenched in reverb, offering ringing guitars–played by multi-Platinum artist Daniel Caesar–and sumptuous bass perfectly suited for headphone listening. Deriving its power from a powerful lead vocal from Bailey Rae, and aided by gorgeous harmonies from the 22-year-old UMI, “You Are” springs to life in its room-enveloping hook, with Smoko accenting the melody with plinks of glockenspiel in a move that harkens back to the 1970s heyday of psychedelic soul.
“Daniel Cesar and I made this beat in Chicago probably two years ago, and I knew from right there it was going to be something special,” says Smoko Ono about the making of “You Are.” “A couple months later, Corinne Bailey Rae was in town, and I played it for her and she instantly fell in love with the instrumental. For a year or so I sat on it, and during the pandemic, I came across UMI’s music from my good friend and producer Nascent. I automatically gravitated towards her music, and I thought she would be perfect for the song. Nascent connected me with UMI and I sent her the song, and after I sent it, I found out that UMI was a huge fan of Corinne Bailey Rae. So everything pretty much worked out perfectly.”
Arriving hot on the heels of “All Pride Aside,” a song Smoko Ono produced for Shelley fka DRAM and Summer Walker, “You Are” is a testament to the rising producer’s excellence within the R&B space, combining an experimenter’s love for unique sonics with a traditionalist passion for soul music of the past. Featuring impressionistic artwork by Nikko Washington, “You Are” is available to stream everywhere via Payday Records.
A frequent collaborator with the likes of Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, Smoko Ono has a sterling reputation in Chicago and beyond for his production prowess. He’s produced tracks featuring some of music’s biggest stars, including Kanye West, DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, Ty Dolla $ign, Cordae, and many more. The prolific producer is hard at work on his star-studded upcoming album, which will feature “You Are” and will be his first album since the critically acclaimed Very Slight, a collaborative project with Chicago rapper KAMI that generated over 12 million streams across platforms.
Stay tuned for much more from Smoko Ono in the coming weeks and months.
Buy/Stream “You Are” ft. Corinne Bailey Rae & UMI: https://ffm.to/y0u-are
Smoko Ono Background
Smoko Ono’s production is an integral part of the sound of contemporary Chicago hip hop. A long-time collaborator of Chance the Rapper, Smoko had four placements on Chance’s debut album The Big Day including the off-cycle single “I Might Need Security,” and “Hot Shower” Ft DaBaby and MadeinTYO. As one of Vic Mensa’s main producers, Smoko produced tracks including “U Mad ft. Kanye West, “Liquor Locker ft. Ty Dolla Sign and “Feel That,” and produced on “Broke As F*ck” on YBN Cordae’s Grammy nominated album The Lost Boy. Smoko has upcoming releases with Quavo, Corinne Bailey Rae, SG Lewis, UMI and more.
In 2018 Smoko released his collaborative album Very Slight with KAMI, which featured verses from Chance the Rapper, Joey Purp, and Valee, the project has received over 12M streams in the US alone. Smoko’s commercial work includes a Nike Super Bowl commercial, Puma, Tao, and has DJ’d Complexcon, Soho House, Poppy, The Marquee, and events like Kehlani’s after party. Additionally, Smoko has produced songs for Megan Thee Stallion, Denzel Curry, Yung Bans, YNW Melly, and is working with Francis and the Lights, Quavo, Yxng Bane, Lil Yachty, Shelley fka DRAM, and more.
Corinne Bailey Rae Background
From Leeds, England, singer-songwriter musician Corinne Bailey Rae shot to stardom with her self-titled #1 debut UK album from 2006, featuring the global hits “Put Your Records On” and “Like A Star.” Bailey Rae has received two GRAMMY Awards, two MOBOs, and multiple nominations including BRIT and BET awards.
UMI is a 22-year-old Seattle native pioneering a new sound rooted in R&B and neosoul. Her artistry manifests itself through her honest lyrics and healing sonics, which gives listeners a personal connection to UMI and her music. The energy of her artistry is a reflection of her personality–unique and nostalgic. Currently living in Los Angeles, UMI continues to create genre-bending music that captivates and inspires listeners.
Payday Records Background
The iconic record label Payday Records announced their relaunch November 2017 with the release of “Our Streets,” the first ever collaborative single from DJ Premier and A$AP Ferg. Created in 1992, Payday Records helped to launch the careers of some of the biggest and most influential names in hip-hop, including Jay-Z, Yasiin Bey f.k.a Mos
“You Are” ft. Corinne Bailey Rae & UMI: https://ffm.to/y0u-are