Cincinnati musician Michael "Deuces" Lee Cunningham II, known as deuces101 to his SoundCloud followers and fans, began pursuing music when he was just 13 years old and has been heavily involved in the local music scene ever since.
“I feel like I’ve dealt with a lot of experiences that were, in some sense, secondhand smoke,” he says. “My mind works a certain way and I strive for a lot and a lot of times, a lot of people around me weren’t in the same mindset. II Hand Smoke came out of knowing what’s good and what’s bad for you.”
In a press release for the album, Cunningham's sound is described as sticking to "contemporary Hip Hop standards, with skill that reveals itself in tricky syncopation and double-time flow. His cerebral content draws comparison to Kendrick Lamar, but with a Midwestern backdrop."
As a lyricist and storyteller, Cunningham says his music is a reflection of his personal experiences and passions, and II Hand Smoke is an extension of his previous releases. He hopes that by using his music to share his experiences, listeners will be able to gain insight into their own lives as well.
“It’s valuable to understand that with the experience that we live in, a high is more than just a bad thing,” he says. “Love is a certain high, family is a certain high and friendship is a certain high...But, sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re not.
"I’m basically stating that not all things are good for you and certain things can be, in a sense, secondhand smoke.”
II Hand Smoke is being released in conjunction with a video series entitled “Sessions 101.” Listeners can view this video compilation on YouTube. These studio sessions feature Cunningham in one-take live performances.
Earlier this year, Cunningham collaborated with Procter & Gamble and Picture Music on Safeguard’s #SafeguardSplash TikTok advertising campaign.
He was selected out of a large group of artists to produce the theme song for Safeguard soaps with the goal of encouraging children and adults alike to properly wash their hands for 20 seconds.
In the #SafeguardSplash challenge, Cunningham energetically sings, “Wash your hands for 20 seconds, scrubbing them clean, we need to be germ-free for our community” while TikTok users dance along to the upbeat music. The challenge — and Cunningham’s song — has now been used more than 34.8 thousand times and is still being posted by influencers around the world.
II Hand Smoke is now available for streaming on all platforms, including spotify.com.