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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Rapper D Smoke performs at Memorial Union Theater on February 21, 2024

Rapper D Smoke performs Black History Month keynote

The California native was this year's keynote speaker celebrating the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Black History Month theme, “Legacy X.”

Grammy-nominated rapper D Smoke performed as a keynote artist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Black History Month celebration Wednesday at Memorial Union alongside his brother and R&B singer Davion Farris. 

The performance included an extended spin on “Last Supper,” a song that awarded D Smoke first place on the hit Netflix show “Rhythm and Flow.”

D Smoke brought a strong energy to his set, inviting the audience to stand closer before the first song. The rapper interacted with the crowd constantly, taking selfies, inviting people on stage and teaching hook lyrics. D Smoke played most of his hit songs, including those from his sophomore album, “Black Habits.” 

The rapper brought out his brother Davion Farris and featured him on the song “Fly. Farris performed three solo songs toward the end of the event, capturing the crowd with his wide range and soulful voice. 

D Smoke’s performance was one of many recent events hosted by the Black History Month Planning Committee. The Committee gave this month the theme of Legacy X, celebrating 10 years of the university’s formal celebration of Black History Month. Moreover, Legacy X pays homage to Civil Rights leader Malcolm X, who used X to denote his ancestral African surname.

“Our goal is to celebrate past, present and future Black students at UW–Madison who have — and always will — unapologetically take up space and always strive for excellence,” the Black History Month Planning Committee says on its website.

D Smoke is an intricate storyteller, roping together themes of consciousness and empowerment with Black and Latinx identities. D Smoke is from Inglewood, California, and comes from a family of musicians, including American singer and songwriter SiR as well as his cousin, Tiffany Gouché, who wrote songs for popular artists like Ginuwine. D Smoke, a former Spanish teacher, performed a handful of songs in both English and Spanish. 

Toward the end of his set, D Smoke voiced his support for Palestine. D Smoke said he was a part of the SHAPE program when he attended UCLA in 2006, where he focused on providing support to Black and Latinx communities in higher education. 

“I remember being side-by-side on UCLA’s campus fighting against genocide in Palestine back then… It’s crazy how many people think that this is a new fight. It’s not recent,” the rapper said during his performance. 

D Smoke ended his concert by thanking the Black History Month Planning Committee for organizing the keynote event. He held a meet and greet with the committee before his performance.

D Smoke recently collaborated with his cousin, SiR, on the single “Work Hard Play Hard” in mid 2023. Though a release date is not specified, the duo is expected to release a collaboration album in the near future. “Giving you guys an album is on the list of things to do,” SiR announced in a recent interview with his cousin and Apple Music.

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