Smino’s in his groove on Luv 4 Rent

Smino

Luv 4 Rent

Motown · October 28, 2022

After a four-year hiatus, Smino is back with his third studio album, Luv 4 Rent. Released on October 28th, Smino describes the record as a concept album. It is a triumph of trippy flows and high quality production. Throughout the tracks, Smino covers themes of romantic, self and familial love. This conceptual theme creates a depth in his work that, when combined with his comedic rhymes, captivates the listener. His delivery makes it even better: Smino is constantly dropping funny lines and referencing pop culture. Some of the most notable references he makes are in the songs “Blu Billy” and “Ole Ass Kendrick.” The St. Louis rapper even bridges genres on his album, moving away from hip hop toward R&B.  Songs like “Modennaminute ” with Lucky Daye and Phoelix and “Lee and Lovie” with Reggie dive deep into slowed down rhythm and blues. The intricate production on every track puts listeners in a trance – it is hard to stop listening to this album.

Produced by Groove, DJ Dahi, Childish Major, and Monte Booker, the album is full of complex beats that take the listeners into another dimension. Luv 4 Rent is the first album where Smino incorporates sampling. “No L’s” opens with a soundbite from the song “Knock Knock” by 90’s R&B icon, Monica. Additionally, in “Pro Freak,” Childish Major sampled a clip from a viral video where a lady says “Adjust your crown.” This expert use of sampling lends to the theme of self-love that Smino delivers throughout his music. In an interview with Complex, Smino revealed that his friends started to make fun of him for his album covers because there’s always someone doing his hair on the cover. With this in mind, he decided to show himself fixing his hair with other people doing the same behind him. He claims that he wanted to show that he is taking care of himself and influencing others to do the same. This hair motif is carried throughout the album, where Smino talks about adjusting his crown and greasing his scalp. His profound self-love is remarkable throughout the album – although he occasionally mentions familial and romantic love, self-love stands out the most. 

Smino gets more help from an eclectic group of artists in his third studio album. J.Cole, Doechii, Phoelix, Lucky Daye, Ravyn Lenae, and Fatman Scoop fit perfectly with Smino’s modulated voice throughout the album. In “Pro Freak,” for example, Doechii delivers deadly couplet rhymes over a beat created by Childish Major, Phoelix, Monte Booker, and DJ Dahi. On his own, Smino lends clever, comedic one-liners into his flows. “Blu Billy” makes a lot of references to popular culture. Lines like “We F’in to Lloyd Mayweather,” “Hate it when it rain, Missy E” and “Eat her with a spoon, call her Reese.” The name of the song is based on a historic man known as “Blue Billy,” a former convict in Australia famous for his wit and charisma. Smino seems to compare himself to Blu Billy in the song, claiming to be a hustler who knows everyone and gets everything that he wants.

Smino uses the same recipe to create his rhymes and themes in all the tracks, which gets repetitive at times. Most of the songs are about smoking weed and being successful in his career. It would’ve been interesting to hear about something other than fucking bitches and smoking weed, but to be fair, he is very good at rapping about those. If he had alluded to weed as a segway to reveal emotions or deeper themes, it could add some more depth to the album. He attempts to do this at the end of the album in “Defibrillator” and “Lee and Lovie.” The former song touches on how his family, which he loves and prioritizes, is proud of him for making it big in the music industry. “Lee Lovie” is about how Smino found love with a woman, finally finding a place where he wants to settle and stop paying rent. He raps that he wants to “stay a tenant if you’ve got room / (for the rest of my life).” Overall, Smino displays all of his strengths in Luv 4 Rent. It’s a captivating album that will hold listeners’ attention all the way through.

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