Nate Smith flips an awkward youth into a skyward path on 'Kinfolk 2: See the Birds'
Nate Smith was many things before he became a notable jazz drummer and composer. Remembering his high school self in Chesapeake, Va., he describes "that awkward kid in the lunchroom, with a manuscript and drumsticks in hand" — a scenario recreated by Kokayi on "Square Wheel," the first single from Kinfolk 2: See the Birds.
On this edition of The Checkout, Smith returns to talk about that musical memoir, one of the more heralded releases of 2021. He reminisces about being an eager young Black American musician falling under the spell of rock and metal, via bands like Living Colour and Fishbone. At the time, h e could never have imagined being in the same recording studio with Living Colour's Vernon Reid, a guitar hero featured on the Kinfolk track "Rambo: The Vigilante."
Smith tells the hilarious story of introducing those heavy and wild sounds to his parents, who leaned toward the smoother grooves of George Benson. He also guides us through some of his other compositions, like the menacing tale of "Street Lamp," which weaves into his unique autobiographical tapestry.
For more on Smith, don't miss his conversation with Keanna Faircloth on The Pulse.
Nate Smith + Kinfolk begin their fall tour next week, appearing at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York on Nov. 7; World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Nov. 10; and City Winery DC on Nov. 11. Visit his website for details.