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Lean and Green: A Conversation With Smo




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It’s been almost a year since we last saw country rap superstar, Smo, so we hit him up for a little chat to catch up before he rolls into town for his third appearance at the Cowboy Cup. He had a lot to share- the most obvious being his dramatic weight loss and the health journey that has transformed his physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing so much that it has influenced the songs he writes. Although he has faced some challenges in relating to his fans since going vegan, with time, Smo hopes to win over the beer and barbeque crowd with the clean living, plant based lifestyle that quite literally saved his life. We talked about his evolution from drinking, hunting, and fishing reality television star to vocal vegan ambassador, and how cannabis has been a part of it all. For Smo, life isn’t just good, it’s better than it’s ever been…and we love to see it.

Herbage: So what have you been up to since we saw you at the last Cowboy Cup?

Smo: I’ve been releasing a lot of singles, collaborations, music videos, lyric videos, content videos. You know, just trying to stay relevant in the entertainment industry.

Herbage: Is that harder to do these days?

Smo: Absolutely. You almost have to learn a new circus trick every week to stand out amongst the rest of the clowns. I mean, it’s sad but true. We’re all slaves to social media, like in this gigantic race to put out as much content as possible, and constantly trying not to pay attention to other people in the same genre. Unfortunately, in my genre, it has been one gigantic copy and paste. It’s like, in every song everyone talks about the same thing, because there’s only so much to talk about. You got beer, mud, trucks, chicks in bikinis…

Herbage: And Mama!

Smo: Yeah, and Mama. Mud on the tires, dust on the road, and ‘shine in the jar. Unfortunately it’s not a very deep genre.

Herbage: How do you describe yourself as an artist? What do you think about the labels country rap and hick hop?

Smo: When I started, I was just a rapper that happened to be from the country and I rapped about what my life was like. There was no genre, but then the more people who came in and started doing it and the more popular it got, I think around the time of my tv show (Big Smo on A&E), that’s when they started to coin the phrase “hick hop”. They referred to me in the show as the “King of Hick Hop”, which I wasn’t fond of because I didn’t like the term at all. Country rap didn’t bother me, because that’s what it was. It was a mixture of country music and rap music and rock music. It was really mutt music that was probably more defined by an era than a genre term, you know, it was the 90s and then the 2000s. I think I’m a product of that, and I’ve watch the whole thing turn into something really interesting.

Herbage: How do your fans react to you being such a vocal cannabis advocate?

Smo: You know, I’ve always been an advocate for cannabis. The first song I ever wrote and recorded back in the late 90s was called The Dope Game. It was a song about sellin’ weed in our hometown in Bedford County in Middle Tennessee. It was just a very accessible thing, you could get it as easy as you could get beer. I’ve been smoking weed since I was twelve and I’ve been open about it pretty much my entire life, even in a lot of my early music. So if you were a fan from day one, you know I’ve been smokin’ weed this whole time.

Herbage: Did you get any push back from industry people?

Smo: Well, I never really cared, you know. When I was with Warner Brothers they never tried to stop me from being me. When I showed up at the industry parties, they knew

I had the weed and when it came time to smoke, some of them wanted to smoke, so we would fuckin’ smoke! There’s more people who are open to it, you’d be surprised. It used to carry a stigma of negativity in Music City, but now it’s so highly evolved and nobody really cares. I get some push back here and there, especially recently because my vibe has been real thick with cannabis lately. People are like, man we want to hear the old Smo. All you talk about anymore is getting stoned. I’m like, well, I don’t drink anymore, and I don’t eat meat anymore. I don’t hunt, I don’t fish. You know what I’m

saying? I’m a vegan, I work out all the time and spend all my time with my wife, and we have fun any way we can. I’m real happy for the first time in my life and I don’t know how to translate that lyrically to my fans where they can understand it. It’s kind of a strange crossroads.

Herbage: You really have evolved as a person and it’s so much more than the physical transformation.

Smo: Oh yeah, mentally I’m in a whole different headspace and level of happiness thatI’ve never achieved before in my life. A lot of sad music is selling so well right now, and I just can’t put myself in that headspace to write something depressing. I’ve been writing good vibes music- kind of like reggae, country, hip hop type of stuff, and you know, some people get it and some people don’t, and that’s okay. I’m on a different level than a lot of people. Mentally, spiritually, cosmically, I’m on a whole different field. As far as my fans, that can be a good thing for me and a bad thing for our relationship because my music might not reflect the same similarities that they’re used to. It’s tough for me to sell myself out as a fake individual and bend to this old lifestyle that I’ve kind of shed. So yeah, I’ve definitely experienced evolution like no other. I think a lot of that has to do with my diet, my lifestyle change over the past few years. People aren’t used to seeing me so thin. I’ve been Big Smo as long as people have known me and now I’ve lost over 200 pounds. So it’s shocking for people. And instead of saying man, congratulations, I bet you feel amazing, they’re like oh man, you look terrible, are you sick? It’s like no, for the first time in my life, I’m not. I was before and nobody cared.

Herbage: How did you get linked into the Oklahoma cannabis scene?

Smo: My good friend, Hopper, is my plug. He’s the one who plugged me in with everyone out here. Jay, from Phresh Harvest, we hit it off really big, and then Brandon (Bokashi Earthworks) is just this encyclopedia of information. Going back a few years ago, Hopper was my plug in Cali where I could come out and sit in on a grow and get hands on education. Me and Sarah Beth came out there and he was kind enough to educate us on a ton of stuff, and then from there he relocated to Oklahoma and did the same thing. He had me come out and taught me even more.

Herbage: What are you smoking on these days? What are you listening to?

Smo: I’m a Sativa guy all day up until the last blunt of the night because I’ve got a lot of work to do all day. I have a very busy life, but I like to smoke. My favorite strain is Mimosa. I like Jet Fuel. When I’m smoking on the back end of my day, I like a good Indica. I’ve been smoking some Grape Gasoline, which has Jet Fuel in it. So yeah, Mimosa and Jet Fuel, if I could just have those two strains, my life would be complete. Let me give a big shout out to Mimosa because that’s one of the things that helped me in my weight loss journey. Every time I got a hunger craving, I could blow a joint of Mimosa and it would get rid of that hunger. If anybody is wanting to give a strain a try for weight loss purposes, I would suggest Mimosa. And then what I listen to- I’m still very much classic rock or 90s, but I don’t listen to much music these days. I’ve been listening to a lot of motivational speeches. Music can sometimes be distracting from my goals, so I’ve been listening to motivational speaking.

Herbage: You actually spend a lot of time here in Oklahoma. What do you think of our cannabis scene?

Smo: It’s real artistic and creative, and it seems friendly. I know the business structure is a lot more friendly than some other states. I’m proud of Oklahoma. I think that if Tennessee were ever to expand their cannabis laws, I think they should follow Oklahoma’s pattern, versus like a California.

Herbage: Your lovely wife, Sarah Beth, has been joining you on stage lately. Does she have plans to do any solo work? Are you guys going to record anything together?

Smo: Yeah, she is actually rehearsing for her next performance here in Tennessee. She’s a big part of my show now, she comes out every show and sings a couple of songs. The crowd loves her! She’s gonna start doing her own little set as well as joining me on stage. She wants to do a Christmas project with me, like a couple of Christmas and gospel songs. I’ll entertain anything she wants to do.

Herbage: So what’s next for you?

Smo: So I’ve actually got my own radio station now, SmoMotion Radio, so we’re really pushing that- smomotionradio.com. And then on the website (therealbigsmo.com) Smocial Media is where we do all of our blogs, and anybody that’s interested in recipes or what I’m doing to lose weight and get healthy, all that is there. So there’s that, and then we’ve got new music coming out. I’ve got new videos coming out. I’ve got new music coming out every two weeks up until Thanksgiving, and then at Thanksgiving I’m pulling the plug and either me and Sarah Beth will release some Christmas songs or we’ll just take the rest of the year off.

By: Pamela Jayne