In 2010 Chari “Knowledge” Smith awoke from a strange dream in which she’d recorded three albums.
The Reno rapper, then 26, decided it was an omen. She convinced her band, Knowledge Lives Forever, to make the dream come true — and also send a message to young rappers who’d usurped Reno’s scene with hedonistic rhymes, not the socially conscious flows Smith had embraced after arriving from Las Vegas to attend UNR.
Eighteen months later, Smith finished the final album — two recorded at Reno’s Pixie Records, a third with Reno producer Fine Print — with 32 tracks themed on relationships, self-growth and supporting the disenfranchised. She’d slept four hours nightly, lost 55 pounds, learned piano and guitar, kept her day job — and served her demanding muse.
“If you can let it be what it’s going to be, there’s no limits,” Smith said.
In 2011 she released “Hate Me Now” and “Don’t Kill the Messenger,” and will drop the third album, “Reborn,” Feb. 3 at a show at the Underground. The songwriting and production are top-notch. Tracks span hip-hop, rock and funk. Smith’s throaty spitting alternates with sweetly sung choruses poppy as radio fare.
Highlights include the chill electro-soul of “Fallen For You” (featuring Reno’s Whitney Myer) and “Warriors,” an ode to a dying friend’s resilience, set to an insistent guitar riff and rumba beat.Smith said her concert set will follow a storyline. “It’s about being a person without much musical training, putting out three very different albums, having the faith to do it.“We did what has never been done before.
Show details: Knowledge Lives Forever, 8 p.m. Feb. 3, The Underground, 555 E. Fourth St. $10 advance, $15 door. 21 +. Opening: Naked for Safety, Status-Flo. www.renounderground.com/tickets