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The best kept secret in music


"Not the Next Eminem"

By Chip Chandler

Compton. Detroit's 8 Mile Road.

These are the places we expect rappers to come from. But Amarillo? Much less Amarillo High School?

Got doubts? Amarillo rapper Ntelect is happy to prove you wrong.

Ntelect, whose real name is Matthew Smith, knows that his background - at first glance, at least - doesn't sound typical for the hip hop scene.

"But there are hard times everywhere, man, wherever people are out there," Smith said.
He's reluctant to discuss specifics, but he did acknowledge living "on the streets" for some time.

"Just life situations, man. I don't know how much of that I'm comfortable with being in the story," Smith said.

Even in his performances, including a pair this weekend at the 42nd Street Bar & Grill and Club Illuminati, Smith tries to make his message more upbeat.

"I try to keep it real in terms of pain and happiness. But when I talk about hard times, I try to put a positive spin on it, and I also try to have fun," he said.

Smith knows he's battling plenty of preconceived notions as a white rapper from Amarillo.

"I don't rap about being from the big streets. I'm from Amarillo. I try to keep it real," he said.

Besides, he later added, "I've grown up in a lot of areas - McAllen, El Paso. I've been exposed to a lot of different sides of life, you know: Everything from country-club life to the streets.

"... There's going to be someone who can feel your stuff, and some who won't."

He also dismisses comparisons to Eminem.

"It's natural, a lot of people do it, but I shy away from doing it. We have way different styles, and our subject matter is different. The only comparison is the obvious one - skin color," Smith said.

"I don't take it negatively when somebody compares me to him, but my response is, I'm not the next Eminem, I'm the first Ntelect."

That kind of self-confidence will be necessary if Smith is going to break through, particularly in his hometown. Smith is trying to carve out a spot as a live performer in a music scene that mostly caters to Texas country and classic rock.

"There's a scene for it," Smith insisted. "There's demand for hip hop. It seems like the Panhandle is behind in it, so I'm paying my dues. ... If I can get club owners to take a chance, I think I can draw some serious crowds."

He's beginning to already, said 42nd Street's Tom Norman.

"Surprisingly, he has a big following," said Norman, acknowledging Amarillo audiences' usual taste in live music. "It's weird. But word gets out, and people show up."

Smith also is working in the studio on his second album, "Street Smarts," due in August, as well as submitting singles to 93.1 The Beat's local battle of the bands show, "Survival of the Fresh Beats."

"He seems to get good response every time he brings us a new single," said The Beat's Deana E.

Next, Smith hopes to branch out past Amarillo.

"I'm going to try to focus on small towns in this area. There are potential fans there. I don't want to rule out any place," he said. "There's no place too small." - Amarillo Globe News Get Out


Taylor Made & Ntelect March 2003
Street Smarts Comming Soon 2005

93.1 BEAT "Battle of the Fresh Beats" winner 2 times.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Influences are Tupac, Jay-z, Scarface, Outkast and Goodie Mob.

Energetic and intense performances that highlight the raw talent of Ntelect. Sometimes fun spirited and other times on a more serious note dealing with life issues and lessons learned.