Rapper Smino grew up in Saint Louis and still reps the place, even though he’s now firmly grounded in Chicago. It’s where he met several members of his crew, Zero Fatigue, including one of his closest collaborators, wunderkind producer Monte Booker. Booker produced all of Smino’s new Blk Juptr EP, and their chemistry injects a range of colors into the luminous cuts.
The instrumentals chatter and hum, reverberating with intimacy and quietly blossoming as Booker arranges and rearranges his minimal palette. Smino follows the music’s changing moods with his slippery flow, which can shift from a poised croon to a playful, coiled snarl without drawing too much attention to the change. Even in its quietest moments, Blk Juptr sounds bustling. On “Runnin” Smino raps, “Zero Fatigue / We in another league,” but given the creativity he already displays so early in his career, he clearly doesn’t belong in anything as cliched as a “league.”
Smino headlines Schubas on Sunday to celebrate the release of Blk Juptr. His Zero Fatigue crew and collaborators will be there, including Monte Booker and R&B singer Ravyn Lenae; the all-ages show starts at 6:30 PM, and it’s worth arriving early to catch everyone.