D Smoke is grateful for all the blessings that have come his way, but he still has a long list of goals he wants to accomplish. The 34-year-old rapper, and Season 1 Rhythm & Flow winner, will be performing for the first time at the 2020 BET Awards this Sunday, and couldn't be happier for the opportunity.
"I'm super proud to share this moment with all of the artists that are performing," Smoke told ET's Melicia Johnson said about his upcoming BET Awards performance amid the Black Lives Matter movement. "At a time like this, myself being an artist who kinda wanted to push the conversation forward prior to the world catching wind of it in this way, it's beautiful to watch. Like, oh wow, some of the things we've been [seeing], we being the community of artists who did it when it wasn't popular necessarily."
"The things we've been talking about, now people are finally starting to get it. I think that's how movements work, you know," he continued. "So to be on the BET Awards during this time is super beautiful, super rewarding."
While he's been working for over a decade, Smoke gained fame until he competed in the Netflix competition show featuring Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I. as judges. Amid his growing musical career, he was also a Spanish and music theory teacher at Inglewood High School.
"My goals have more to do with what I'm able to do outside of music than what my musical accomplishments are," Smoke expressed. "So, until it affords me the reach to affect things in a sustainable way, things in my community, in Inglewood; until I can have a community center where the youth can come play sports, learn about business, learn about entrepreneurship, learn about music and film and all of those things. Until I can affect the kind of changes that we really need then, you know, we haven't arrived. So that's definitely the mentality."
"I've seen some smaller successes, [that] to other people would be considered huge successes, early in my 20s," he noted. "But just even taking that moment [to celebrate my success], to me, feels, is risky, you know. Because if it's given to you, it can also be taken away. So, it's about what you build, not what's given to you."
That state of mind also translates to the messages that he's given his former students. As for what advice and message he would give to younger fans.
"If we're talking about my students that actually shared a classroom with me, that I used to see everyday, they already know what it is. If they get to hear it, you know, tell them I said 'pura vida.' They know what's up" he shared. "But if it's just a general message to people... it would be, just continue to be yourself and further the conversation."
See more of ET's exclusive interview with D Smoke in the video above.
The BET Awards will air Sunday, June 28 from 8-11 p.m. ET/PT on both CBS and BET.