_thesmoothcat and Wino Willy Share Thoughtful New Album, "Ready, Set"


_thesmoothcat and Wino Willy have caught our attention for their new album, titled Ready, Set. The record finds the two prolific artists connecting for a refreshing, atmospheric record that employs expansive, jazzy sampling and organic rhythms from Wino Willy to underscore _thesmoothcat’s poignant flows. His focused, forthright rhyming style is cohesively suitable to Willy’s grounded, intentional production- and the two come together for a record that revitalizes with an otherworldly resonance on Ready, Set.

The astral, dusty hypnosis of “Brand New” sets a meditative tone at the start of the record- with _thesmoothcat’s poignant, sharply-crafted flows merging suitably with Wino Willy’s atmospheric instrumentation. “I LIKE”’s warm grooves and celestial keys create an apt backdrop for a tapestry of evocative verses- while “HAND EYE”, featuring Wakai, implements a wisened, worldly feel with its balmy grooves, expansive instrumentation, and detailed lyricism. Closer “SAY MY NAME” employs a trap-influenced beat to great effect, with drifting, introspective key riffs, crisp percussion, and booming bass paired with _thesmoothcat’s effortlessly charismatic verses.

Ready, Set originated in late 2020, beat-maker/ producer Charles Corpening ( Wino Willy ) took a gig mixing a live- stream for a mural dedication in New Orleans featuring a performance by  _thesmoothcat ( Josh Henderson) &  9th Life. Corpening was so moved by their sound that he captured the raw audio on the spot and began flipping it as soon as he got home.  The levity and joy in the streets that he heard in Josh’s music in contrast to the darkness of the times conjured feelings of his youth in Philadelphia and the cultural similarities across both cities. Shortly after, he reached out to Josh and the collaboration that led to Ready, Set was born. Concurrently, Corpening learned that he would be a father for the first time -  an auspicious beginning for multiple new endeavors. 

Josh gave Charles a CD that he played in the car constantly with his daughter in utero. As she grew, so did the music. Inspired by Josh’s plethora of influences and the soulful viscosity of organ and keyboard jams heard at night on WWOZ radio.  Corpening approached his process and fatherhood with a fresh perspective, trading electronic drums for live ones and even composing some of the beats in the hospital during his daughter’s birth.  Notwithstanding the wrath of life in the city, some of the equipment he used to make the sounds on the record were destroyed in Hurricane Ida, Thankfully much of the tracking was completed. 

For Henderson, the collaboration has the excitement of that new car feeling, conveyed on the album’s first track Brand New, but as the title, Ready Set suggests these 10 tracks just begin to scratch the surface of what’s to come from _thesmoothcat and Wino Willy.

Take a listen to _thesmoothcat and Wino Willy’s latest offering, Ready, Set here- as it paints vivid, psychedelic pictures for the listener with intimate vignettes.

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