Jorja Smith’s first full length album, “Lost & Found,” is as silky smooth as a Zadie Smith novel. It has the same impossible coolness and an equally impossible ease of poetic nuance.
The newly 21-year-old R&B phenomenon started her career in 2016 with success and recognition from R&B’s biggest names. But, with her latest release she is making sure her name will stand alone and carry the same clout.
According to an interview with Billboard, Smith has worked with and has been promoted by Drake and Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar. “Jorja is a constant reminder that true artistry, writing and creativity will forever be alive and well. She is the future and present,” Lamar said, according to the aforementioned article.
True artistry and undeniable skill do come through in “Lost & Found.” Smith knows she is a true master of the art. She says in an interview with Apple Music, that she knows her voice and music will come through. She isn’t worried about getting lost next to big name artists. she says, “I’m good at what I do.”
“Jorja is a constant reminder that true artistry, writing and creativity will forever be alive and well. She is the future and present”–Kendrick Lamar
Her love for the craft comes through in her free-styled track “Lifeboats (Freestyle).” The impressive, nearly three-minute track is one of the standouts on the album. Smith’s impeccable rhythm and poignant lines tie poverty and the wage gap up into a simple lifeboat metaphor.
The chorus repeats “So why do we all fall down/If there’s a reason we can stay afloat?/ And why do we watch them drown?/We’re too selfish in the lifeboats.” The first verse – – “Stay afloat, someone might put their arm out to help you/ I don’t know, I would/ If I saw somebody drowning in a sea of self-confusion/ I wanna be the one to try and understand why their tide ain’t coming in/And their lighthouse ain’t shining,” points out our culture’s inability to look at the root of the problem. That we are likely to just avoid the problem from the safety of our lifeboats. The freestyle holds a much-needed accountability.
“Teenaged Fantasy” makes it clear that Smith has loved and understood music for a very long time. She wrote the song when she was 16, yet the lyrics and mood of the song are wistful as if she was looking at her teenage years from a much more distant future. Her youthful experience is translated to a nostalgia that everyone can understand with lines like, “We all want a teenage fantasy/ Want it when we can’t have it/ When we got it we don’t seem to want it.” The first line “You weren’t the boy I thought I knew,” comes in following a classic r&b down beat and record static that immediately takes you back to 1990s hip hop.
In her interview with Julie Adenuga for Apple Music, Smithwas asked if she is worried about “Pretty Privilege” and people listening to her music for the wrong reasons. Adenuga said on a podcast, that she didn’t name, they talked about Smith. But they only mentioned Drake and that she was pretty. Smith replied “But I’m an artist first.”
“I knew they liked the song, what it meant, they like my voice.”
Though frustrating, Smith says says that privilege of any kind is something that has always operated and worked in our culture. But, when she released her successful EP “Project 11” in 2016, no one knew what she looked like. “The thing is when I first put out [“Blue Lights”] there were no images,” she continued. “I knew they like the song, what it meant, they like my voice.”
It seems she hopes and is confident that if people find her for her looks they’ll stay for her music. “People are always going to say something,” she says in a matter-of-fact way.
“Lost & Found” is already receiving astoundingly positive reviews. Buy it here.