After the celebration that was Orange Chicken’s release party, Super Smack and I went our separate ways for about a month. He went to Los Angeles for songwriting sessions and music industry events, continuing his multi-month process of building his album, while also visiting some college friends. But for me? I stayed home. Nothing screams relaxation than in front of a computer screen and ungodly amounts of multiplayer video games.
When Smack called to catch up in a public setting, it was both much appreciated and also dreadful because of the weather. Picking which clothes to wear proved to be difficult now that the Arizona heat was just weeks away from reaching Arrakis level temperatures, and already unbelievably hot. So, when it comes to music that makes this kind of summer weather bearable, I can’t say I was surprised that Smack had figured out the formula to get butts outside for at least an hour or two with his release of “Man Booty!”
“Man Booty!” is about exactly what you read. The Man Booty. This part of a body isn’t as celebrated as others unless you’re a Marvel superhero or a Ken working at the beach. This single’s infectious house influences and sultry brass melodies provide a refreshing canvas for Smack to flex his pen in a way that has been growing on me even more and more with each release. A genuine song of being seen as an ass-et to be desired turns into a song about celebrating that attraction and being honest about liking it.
We sat down at a lively cafe for the first time in a while and I didn’t waste time to find out just how this sensual summer jam came to life and the responses since its release.
So the first question, “Man Booty!” How did you come up with the name of the song?
SUPER SMACK: In one of my earlier relationships, the person I was dating told me, “You got a booty, it’s great.” That compliment stuck out to me because it was something I hadn’t gotten before. I think it’s the rare compliments that are sometimes best, you know? It makes you feel like the person is really seeing you, because they’re noticing things that other folks haven’t before. Like, if people tell you all the time “you’re funny,” that’s great, and you appreciate it. But if nobody’s ever complimented your jaw-line before, now all of a sudden someone does– it has this extra spark to it. It’s an instant mood boost, confidence boost.
I kept coming back to that memory and I started writing the song from there. I started sharing it with a couple people and they literally laughed out loud when I told them, so I knew I was onto something with the message.
I ended up liking it so much that I made it the flagship song for my upcoming album, which is called BOOTY & THE BRAIN. The album is about love, dreams, and confidence. This song oozes confidence, which I think is key to unlocking the other two. You can’t really find love or reach your dreams without confidence first.
How has the response been?
This is one of my biggest releases yet, I think we recently crossed 10k on Spotify. It’s also definitely gotten the most buzz out of all the singles I’ve started releasing from the album. But even cooler than the numbers, to me, is seeing how many different kinds of people like it, for all different reasons.
For example, one of the most fun things I’ve seen for “Man Booty!” is the response from the LGBTQ+ community. I got messages from several of my gay friends who are like, “Oh my God, this should be playing at every gay club!” I see people on Spotify adding it to their “Pride workout” playlists and telling me they shared it with their gay friends who also loved it. That’s so cool to hear. I see it being embraced by straight guys too (I’m straight myself), and straight girls who’ve shared it with their partners as a song of endearment, and everyone in between and across the spectrum. It ended up becoming universal — making people smile from different genders and sexualities, including those like me who may have body types that are underrepresented in pop culture.
I started writing it thinking it would be this niche, kinda funny topic. Like how many songs are about guy’s butts, versus written about girls’ butts, right? (By the way, there’s a separate conversation there about how our society objectifies women!) But by the time I was done producing it, I felt like it was really just a song about body positivity and romantic confidence. About the acceptance of finding something desirable that often doesn’t get talked about, especially when that something is ourselves. More than any of my other songs so far, it has different angles, people like it for different reasons. Who knew we all needed more man booty in our lives? (Laughs)
I completely understand that because when I was listening to it more attentively, I noticed that there was a sense of vulnerability of wanting to be wanted, and being happy about that desirability that was brought into the lyrics. Especially in the chorus:
From the boys for boys, to the girls for boys,
To all the gender role folks
Who be taken with the dopey dudes like me with the hiney
I’m glad mine’s not tiny
Or in this verse
My honey tell me I’m grown ass man
And my grown ass gold like a bold brass band
When we movin’ slow she take my by the hand
And put a hand on my grown ass ass
And I’m feelin’ kinda hot and bothered
Who knew I could be activated by an active lady
That proclamation, in itself, is something that normally we don’t do, as men in general. Especially when it comes to compliments like you said earlier. For many men, especially with certain body types, they don’t often get as many compliments on their looks. And when they do, especially if it’s something you haven’t been complimented on before, it’s a drastic thing you remember. And there’s power in admitting that we want to be complimented and we want certain attributes to be noticed sometimes.
Everything you said is totally spot on, even if most of it was happening subconsciously. I’m someone who at different points in my life have felt very desirable and then also not desirable. And I think that’s actually something that everybody also goes through. No matter what you look like.
Something I always thought was funny with pop music is how confidence is conveyed in polar extremes. You have songs that are like “I’m so hot, you know you want me!” And then you have songs that are like “I’m all self-loathing and this is me being hyper vulnerable”. Both those extremes are fun. But I think lived reality is usually in the middle, or oscillating between the two. So I get a kick of making a song that is still very confident, but at the same time isn’t afraid to admit that, “Yes, I want to feel wanted and this is how I’m going to do it.” It’s about taking control, saying it out loud, and then being like “Oh, wow look, it’s happening!” (Laughs).
By the way have you ever done partner dancing like salsa or swing or anything like that?
I’ve gone dancing and stuff like that, but not traditional dancing.
So in partner dancing you usually have two distinct roles. One of the cool things I’ve seen recently is people referring to them as “lead” and “follow” roles rather than “male” and “female” roles. It makes it a more accepting and open space, not just for same-sex dance couples, but also for people who want to swap around across those roles. So even if you are a cis man dancing with a cis woman you can swap from being the lead to a follow if you wanted. That reminded me of what you were saying about how men have been traditionally taught. That we’re supposed to be the “hunter-gatherers” and when you look at the vast majority of pop music, it frames men through this objectifier lens, men staring at women like they’re objects. I think that there’s actually something fun and powerful about flipping that and saying, you know, maybe I’m a dude and I want to be the object. I’m gonna choose to do it, of my own volition. But you need a safe space, and confidence, to do that. It actually reminded me of Ryan Gosling’s scenes in Barbie. I’ve been told this song has Ken-ergy.
I totally agree. Which only heightens my interest in hearing the whole BOOTY & THE BRAIN album. Because it kind of feels like you’re subverting a lot of masculine assumptions in your work right now by being way more forthright with the different aspects of how you feel, personally about being attracted to someone and being attractive to other people through either physically, intellectually, or comically, stuff like that. Showing different shades of you, is something that a lot of people have a lot of struggles with and I think a lot of the reason why “Man Booty!” is resonating for a lot of like men in particular that I’ve seen. Mainly because it’s something that allows us to actually let that spirit come out. When my roommate was listening to it and got to dance to it, his confidence was through the roof.
Ah yeah! At the preview party! I didn’t know he had it in him like that! That was amazing.
EXACTLY! And he is someone who also likes to take care of his body a lot, but he doesn’t show it. I think hearing a song that really embraces the feeling of “Who cares? I can be as confident as I want” I feel like it gives permission for that little part of us that doesn’t get a chance to come out often.
Totally. I just realized this now. Another big theme of the album is claiming your own spotlight right? This is where the dream aspect of it comes in and I didn’t realize that what we were doing that day, when previewing the song, was giving everyone a chance to claim their own spotlight. We were literally just filming some silly content to this song having the dudes come walking down the stairs and like dancing or whatever but those dudes really hammed it up and were having fun with it. To use the theater analogy, it’s the moment where you get to move from being a background character to being downstage center, in the spotlight, playing the lead role. I think in a playful way, “Man Booty!” is a ticket for folks to take that downstage center moment.
And it’s infectious. It’s something that a lot of your music does well. Just like in “Grind!” and “Cute!” it’s really easy to hear where the audience is going to chant back and get more into the groove for “Man Booty!” It feels very much like one of those celebratory things. Now, how was the instrumental made? I really liked the sultry saxophone in the beginning and then when the warble synth comes in I really fucked with that particularly when the reverb and chorus started to kick in. How did you guys come to build it?
For the beat, I partnered with Mixtape Soul, a producer duo based in Seoul. I was originally looking for more pop style beats, but then I heard this house beat from them and I knew I had to write to it. I also knew I wanted to add more elements to raise the production value of this track, and the whole album, to a level beyond what I’ve done before. That’s where the horns came in.
The horns idea came from a friend’s wedding I went to in New Orleans, the same month I recorded the song. They hired this 10-piece brass band to march down Bourbon Street with the couple, it was dope. So brass was on my mind. Brass to me has always been so f***ing sexy. I wanted the song to feel like all these man booties just marching down the street while everyone is celebrating their bootiness. And it was important to me that we get live horns for this, since the rest of the track was digital. I got a chance to work with three amazing horn players on this: my buddy Sax of Shaolin from Brooklyn on alto sax, Kadesh Flow from Kansas City on trombone, and Nicho Whitegold here in Phoenix, who played horns on that song “Tractor Beam” by Mega Ran. Those three dudes brought so much flavor and sexiness to “Man Booty!” It’s the sexy marching band I dreamed of.
I honestly love the result and am amazed how you keep upping the ante for each release. One more question. I know we’re getting closer to the BOOTY & THE BRAIN album itself coming out. How are you feeling now? That dreaded home stretch?
I’m feeling good! And crazy!
The final single from the album, “I Think I Kinda Like You!” (featuring some heavy hitter guest artists: AJ Rafael, Hollis, Elise Go, and Miko Shudo) comes out September 15. Then I’m going to be playing the lead role of Billy Flynn in a musical production of Chicago at Almost Famous Theatre Company, September 22-24. Finally, the BOOTY & THE BRAIN album comes out on October 18, 2023. So it’s a roller coaster home stretch for sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My team has been killing it, so I wanna give a shoutout to my music management teammates Natalia Olivares and Hanqin Jin. We’re currently working on physical CDs and lyrics booklets for the album, which comes out in October as well. With everything streaming nowadays, I think it’s extra special when you can do physical media. People like to have something tactile, something you can touch. Insert Man Booty joke here? (Laughs).