YouTube is what you make of it. It can be used to post videos of cats doing cat things, or it can be one of the most useful tools for creative individuals to showcase their talent to the world. The hard part for creatives is finding a way to stand out (and stop people from looking at those adorable videos of kittens instead). In 2011, when he was 17 years old, B. Smyth went on YouTube and started covering popular songs from artists like Trey Songz (“Love Faces”), Miguel (“Sure Thing”) and Usher (“Nice and Slow”). He managed to amass over 5 million views.
His viral success led to him signing to Motown Records in 2012. Smith went from covering other artists’ songs to having his first single, “Leggo” with 2 Chainz, peak at number 20 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. The song has quietly racked up over 4.2 million views this year. Smyth continued to build on his momentum and he released an EP, The Florida Files, this October.
The EP features songs like “Win Win” with Future, and his current single—“Twerkaholic.” Smyth plans to drop more music and get people more familiar with him as an artist before dropping his full-length debut album in 2014. But for now, we got familiar with the R&B singer/songwriter and he told us about how he managed to get both 2 Chainz and Future on his singles and how his hit “Leggo” came together.
Interview by Nicholas Sella (@therealnsella)
How did you get your start in singing?
I basically got on YouTube. I started putting out YouTube covers about two and a half years ago. I was able to develop a fan base there and ended up signing to a production company, EP Entertainment. From there I started showcasing to record labels and I ended up signing to Motown. I linked up with Ne-Yo after that because he’s a labelmate, and I think he’s an executive at the label.
How did your song “Leggo” with 2 Chainz come together?
That was put together by Def Jam and Motown. After we did the song, they asked me who would I like to put on there. I said 2 Chainz, amongst other rappers. With him being signed to Def Jam, it wasn’t too hard to get him on the record. From there we sent him the song and he did it. Then we ended up putting the record out and making it the first single.
How’s the feedback for “Leggo” been since it came out?
Everything been good. It was a great introduction to me as an artist. This EP is just an extended version of that.
I’m not so pressed to do so many more features just for the simple fact that my first two songs had pretty big guys like 2 Chainz and Future. I really want to get my content out and focus on getting people familiar with who I am as an artist, not relying on the feature.
The lead single for The Florida Files is “Win Win” with Future. Is he someone you are also a fan of?
Yeah definitely. Mike Will and me had developed a relationship and I started seeing him at a couple of studios. From there the label reached out to him and he sent me the song. I heard it and then he played it for Future in a studio session, Future just jumped on it.
What’s it like being able to get these artists you listen to and want to work with on your songs, pretty early in your career?
It’s definitely dope, especially me just being fans of those guys. To go from being a fan to being amongst them as my peers and doing records with them, it’s really a blessing for me.
Who else do you listen to currently that you’d like to work with?
I’m not so pressed to do so many more features just for the simple fact that my first two songs had pretty big guys like 2 Chainz and Future. I really want to get my content out and focus on getting people familiar with who I am as an artist, not relying on the feature. I’m definitely listening to other people and I'm definitely inspired by other people like Drake and Kendrick Lamar, But for right now, I’m trying to focus on me.
What do you think it is about you as an artist that people connect with?
Just my music. For the most part I’ve had two club/party records but with this new The Florida Files EP, people get to see I’m not just a club record. I’m not just a dancing guy. There’s real talent here, real music and substance that’s going to set me apart from everyone else. I sing, I dance, and I write but I feel like my music is great and people are going to gravitate to it. People will see I’m not just a gimmick. I’m not a gimmick.
What’s next for you?
Eventually, probably set up a tour. Right now, I’m doing a promo run and going to different radio stations and pushing my new single “Win Win.” I got a lot more content coming out for the rest of this year. The top of the year, we’re going to put another single out and hopefully the album.