Joshua Luke Smith is ‘Liberated’ in brand new single + music video

Rapper, poet and wordsmith Joshua Luke Smith has today released new single ‘Liberated’, taken from his forthcoming sophomore album of the same name, due March 2024. 

Having always found power in words, Joshua’s ‘Liberated’ is more than an offering of music, but extends as a mantra to live by. “What does it mean to be free?”, Joshua asks on the record. His answer is to embrace all aspects of the life you lead, rather than dwell on the life you thought you would. Through numerous personal experiences, Joshua has learned to fully embody who he is and to own what he’s been through, and asks that for the sake of your own liberation, you do too. 

Embodying a wholly artistic presence, Joshua is a poet before he is a rapper, delivering intelligent metaphorical wordplay. Brimming with soul, ‘Liberated’ is a euphoric moment of clarity and an uplifting story of acceptance. Gospel style vocals reinforce Joshua’s statement, which he raps over the full-band experience of electric guitar lines, funky bass and crashing drums alongside 90s hip-hop inspired sonics. 

“Liberated began as a personal mantra and declaration of freedom. I’m learning that true liberation is found not in the absence of suffering but in the embracing of it. In the facing of our disappointment, grief and failures, we are invited to heal, grow and become our truest selves. I can’t stand still when I’m listening to the song and I hope it’s the same for others that hear it. I hope it leads people into a physical and spiritual experience of liberation and becomes their mantra as well!” – Joshua Luke Smith

The accompanying self-directed video sees Joshua guide the casted dancer to embody a sense of freedom and liberation in their movement, a stunning visual representation of his words. 

While writing the record, he had been engaging in the habits of a gambler, heading on a downward spiral. With a son on the way, he identified that he needed to change his behaviour, and immersed himself into the process of a twelve-step recovery programme, including a deep dive into spiritual masters. By expressing his story so candidly, Joshua hopes that others might relate and be able to find their own path toward freedom. 

Joshua was inspired by the writings of American Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who said “The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers the most.” Relating to this, the artist gained a new perspective on what it meant to be ‘Liberated’. “I feel Liberated because there is nothing hidden, nothing in this life that I’m pretending isn’t there”, he explains.  “If any of it counts, it all counts. I can’t just bring this part of myself to the spiritual life – it’s all here. It all matters.” 

Joshua’s relationship with faith is central to his life and work; his parents were missionaries, and as a result he’d lived in 14 different houses by the time he was 15. He fell in love with rap music from a young age, and creates from its traditions, citing records from Oddisee (who he has toured and collaborated with), Stormzy (Gang Signs and Prayer) and Kendrick Lamar (Mr Morale & the Big Steppers) as inspiring the way in which spirituality and introspection intertwine through his work in the alternative hip-hop space. Joshua’s debut album The Void released in 2021 and was met with critical acclaim, COMPLEX describing him as “contemporary rap and acoustic pop-soul, producing a world-weary, heartfelt, relatable brand of penmanship”.

Born in London and raised in an impoverished area of northern Pakistan, where his parents were building a hospital, he started writing poetry from a young age to try to make sense of the world around him. It was from this moment he got a taste of the power of words, song, reflection and observation. Ultimately settling in Bath, UK, he graduated from Bath Spa University studying Philosophy. 

Rooted authentically in his own experience, Joshua’s writing is deeply empathic, finding resonance with listeners on a profoundly human level. This is evidenced through his fan-crowdfunded and self-produced debut album The Void, and his lyrical TEDx Talk ‘The World Within: Healing Matters of the Heart’ (watch here), which has been viewed over 14 thousand times. He has also featured on BBC 1Xtra’s Words First and is a poetic advocate for the Samaritans. As a spoken word artist, Joshua has taken part in the BBC 6Music Festival and London Roundhouse spoken word projects. 

Joshua is inspiring a new generation of writers – rappers, poets, songwriters, novelists – however people put pen to paper. He founded The Write Club – taglined: Get Out Of Your Head And Onto The Page – a space for creatives to find community and freedom in expression. The membership fee for the club helps fund the vital work Joshua also does in prisons, working with inmates on poetry sessions in the hope of playing a part in their reformation and rehabilitation. Joshua believes that poetry is a tool for transformation and has the power to help us process our past, focus on our presents, and reimagine our future. Joshua’s first book, ‘Something You Once Knew: Waking up to the extraordinary in your ordinary life was published in June 2022.

Joshua uses words to create spaces of hope and freedom, creating from the mandate to ‘Speak Into The Chaos’. A poet for the people, he continues to inspire with ‘Liberated’. 

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