Smoke, a Delhi-based rapper, has been in the game for a long time and has a great reputation in the Indian battle rapping scene. Previously known as Smoke the Rapper, he is recognised for not just going brutal on stage, but also for defeating the best emcees in battle rapping. He rose to prominence in the music world by remixing some of the most popular tracks. Despite his exceptional rap battle skills, it appears that Smoke is now ready to emerge as a complete artist and demonstrate his dynamism through his debut album, “Veni Vidi Vici,” which means “I Came, I Saw, I Conquered.”
“Veni Vidi Vici” is thirteen tracks long and covers all the hallmarks of Smoke’s journey and his signature style while venturing into new territory. With this project, Smoke has displayed his versatility. If you look attentively at the record, you will notice little elements like how well-structured and composed it is. Through the intro, interlude, and outro tracks, the rapper has offered insights into the emotions he has kept pent up throughout his journey and who he is as a person. The lyrical turn is incredibly impressive, as Smoke demonstrated his A-game on this project.
Smoke Veni Vidi Vici Album Review
The album kicks off with the Qaab-produced introduction track “VVV,” on which Smoke pours his heart out. Smoke showcased his excellent storytelling skills on this song while maintaining a solid flow throughout. Smoke did not compromise on the technical aspects of rapping considering “VVV” is the intro track. The second track on the album, “Karenge,” is a classic Smoke track produced by Asura. With a catchy hook and a solid beat, the track about sheer determination and hard work is well-crafted.
“India mein rappers kama rahe hain kya?/Aukaat nahi lene ki Louis Vuitton,” Smoke addresses one of the most popular questions in desi hip hop, which Raftaar raised back in 2018. Smoke’s gratitude is evident at the start of the second verse, as he expresses appreciation and gives credit to his fellow MCs from the Delhi hip hop scene for where he is today, rapping:
“Rebel, Huzur, Saby, Seedhe Maut/Vyshakh, Asura, Qaab, Shabd, Kode/Aur Jinka naam nhi liya vo bhi toh bhai/Tumhare bina Rahul ki nahi chadhai.”
“Haq Se” is a great listen, featuring a terrific lineup of heavy hitters like Enkore, Ahmer, and Smoke. Tsqaure Beats did an excellent job with the music, and Enkore blessed it with a fantastic hook. As Smoke, Enkore, and Ahmer are all known for their brilliant lyricism, I was expecting a hardcore track full of amazing bars. Unfortunately, “Haq se” did not live up to my expectations. However, the flows were pretty good, and the song did not sound bad at all, but there was nothing that stood out to me.
Smoke, also known as the punchline king, displays his lyrical prowess on “Brag Freestyle.” Though the song is short, Smoke’s intensity and bars grab your attention throughout. The music is very powerful, and Smoke’s hardcore lyrics further add to it. He fully embraced the rhyming pattern while throwing some solid punchlines on this track, as raps:
“Aur mere har gaane pe hate aati/Flow hai jaise dilli police de lathi/Kare tujhe hara neele, tekashi/Mere jaisa rapper dekha nahi.”
The Damien Alter-created “Bollywood” featuring Savage didn’t really work for me. However the hook was quite catchy and Smoke’s verse had some excellent bars:
“Pehnna Dior Dior, paise kamane aur shows hi shows/Baal lambe jaise Isa, kon chahta hai ye holy smoke/Rap nahi mera only hope, padha likha hu main aur bhi bohot/Banaya jo Gaana ye anthem, jaise kavita Tagore ki ho.”
Initially, it appeared as though Savage was attempting to catch the beat, but then he really spazzed on it with great metaphors. Again, the song was good, but given that both of these MCs are known for their strong pen games, “Bollywood” fell short of my expectations.
With “Jashan,” Smoke celebrates his accomplishments and the position he has gained over time, which features Encore ABJ. The hook and Smoke’s verse were both excellent. Encore ABJ is a prominent Delhi-based artist who is well-known for his exceptional writing skills. With his brilliant verse on this song, he brutally murdered the beat. He did an excellent job of weaving his political views within his verse while maintaining his flow tight and delivery on point throughout his verse. “Jashan” was an overall good effort, with both artists giving solid performances.
The interlude track “Marathon” gives you a glimpse of not only Smoke but also Rahul (his real name). On “Marathon,” He opens up about self-doubts, emotions, and how he must pursue grinding in order to achieve his goals. Aside from that, Smoke totally spazzed on the beat, demonstrating his exceptional rhyming skills, rapping:
“Dost mujhse kalpe nahi, aur chhodi kismat kal pe nhi/Aaj paid kal pay nahi, aaj hazaar kal peti/Aaj fans kal the nhi, bharosa tha nakal pe nhi/Hum dono me fasla, main likhta hu akal se hi.”
While “Veni Vidi Vici” is a bar-fest full of hardcore and power-packed tracks, “Lakeer” stands out with a fresh sound. Qaab, one of the most renowned new-wave artists in the Indian hip-hop industry, features on this song and he is the one who managed to brought something unexpected out of Smoke. The song is a refreshing break from the album’s overall theme and Smoke’s aggressive rapping style. His melodious vocals on a mellow beat sounded amazing while Qaab also did quite well on the track since it was his zone. He enhanced the song even more with his soothing vocals and effortless delivery.
“Patashe,” one of my personal favourites on this album, is filled with witty bars and polished flows. Smoke’s flow amid the beat switches astounded me. He maintains impressive breath control in the first verse while spazzing on the track with his copper flow. The beat then slows down, and Smoke switches his flow, showing why his fans call him a heavy-hitter, as he raps:
“Pehle karte the hate ab kehte big fan/Karta battle paiso ke liye Hitman/Bodybag kabhi na-hara like Shin Chan/Married to the game Stephanie McMahon.”
“Patashe” is a track that shows Smoke’s true talent. The track was full of incredible punchlines, but this Marxism bar definitely stood out to me:
“Haa ye gaane bana barfest/Naa hi right, naa hi far left/In rappers me alag hai class meri/Main nhi ban saku Marxist.”
Also, I can’t move on to the next song without mentioning Damien Alter, who handled the production on this track and gave a sick beat.
After listening to a song like “Patashe,” “Legend Status” didn’t seem to work for me. Smoke, however, composed a good hook and tried a different flow on this track, which was a good approach. But as Smoke’s USP is his lyrical prowess, his verse on “Legend Status” was below average for me. Harjas, on the other hand, did not disappoint with his performance and delivered a nice verse. With “Gang Gang,” Smoke attempted to pull off the grime-rap vibe since he is heavily influenced by Griselda Records and tried to make a banger for his live-show audience. Qaab did a fine job with the 808s and the overall beat pattern. As Smoke has given some incredibly catchy and well-composed hooks on this album, this song’s hook was inadequate, even though it might create mosh pits in concerts.
“30,” a song featuring Delhi hip hop’s lethal lyricists Vyshakh and Rebel 7, begins with Smoke spitting bars after bars with a smooth flow. The song is produced by Sincere Noble and Rebel 7. Rebel and Vyshakh both dominated the beat with their brilliant lyricism. Vyshakh showcases his skills with a verse packed with crazy references and punchlines, rapping:
“Izzat Mil rhi, maathe teke jese Charo Dhaam/Om Shanti Om, Don wala flow Shahrukh Khan/Level high Duniya upar dekh ke jode haath/Solah Bar (bars), inko rakhe bhooka jaise Bhole Nath/Honge Khwaab sach humne jo li maafi maang/Capital ye Kabul Apna Flow Bana Taliban/Jo tu khali haath dikhe teri khaamiya, Jiski jeb me Gandhi uske peeche sabka Dandi March.”
He continues the streak in the last few lines of his verse, displaying impeccable art:
“Bruh in rappers ki Game cheepad si/Keep it high-class pura section kr rha THC/Claim krte player status VLC (we’ll see)/Outtapocket for these bitches uske upar GST.”
The album concludes with “Kafka,” in which Smoke addresses depression, hopelessness, and quitting music. Smoke’s style is primarily about hardcore rap, where rappers enjoy writing boastful lyrics, yet Smoke shows emotional vulnerability on “Kafka.” “Rahul zada rota nahi, jazbato se samjhota bhi, Pachtawa reh gaya ki dada ko de paya tofa nahi,” he mentions his grandfather’s loss, revealing his emotional side. “Kafka” nicely closes the Album with poignant lines and a soulful vibe.
“Veni Vidi Vici” sees Smoke reintroducing himself to his listeners, both new and old. He broadens his creative reach to deliver an unforgettable experience. Smoke has shown his versatility, and it’s a great album with a lot of variety. He opens himself up to a lot of new fans by being quite candid on this endeavor, talking about his grind and personal issues. That being said, “Veni Vidi Vici” pushes Smoke to the forefront of desi hip hop’s top lyricists.