Credit: Denita Turner

Smino is simultaneously experimental and intentional—it’s a trip. His music feels better with each listen. The midwest breeds multitalented artists, including rappers who love to sing, but Smino (born in Saint Louis with roots in Chicago) is more than a rapper who sings or a singer who raps. With his endearing falsetto, undeniable charm, and frequent collaborations (including with Chicagoans Monte Booker and Ravyn Lenae), he makes music that’s great for the cookout, the kickback, and—importantly—the bedroom. Oozing with sex appeal and blessed with great hair, Smino has a surplus of personality, knowledge, and control. Though his music drips familiarity and sometimes evokes fellow explorative hip-hop acts such as OutKast or Kendrick Lamar, he’s got enough fresh ideas that it never feels plagiarized. Smino’s lyrics and musical decisions come chock-full of respect for pop culture and music history, and his unique voice shines through from the core. 

Smino’s new third album, Luv 4 Rent, clearly expresses his artistic growth since his 2018 breakout album, Noir, with its beat selection, big features (including J. Cole), instrumental choices, and vocal direction. Thick with smoky melodies, the music weaves between hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and straight-up pop—and it’s all abundantly Black. “Blu Billy” is good and breezy, while “Pudgy” is a big pulsating hug with a stellar Lil Uzi Vert verse. The guest spot from Tampa rapper Doechii on “Pro Freak” will be a revelation for anyone sleeping on her abilities, and Smino shows that he’s not just a playful crooner—he’s a real MC with a wordplay that isn’t to be undervalued. Luv 4 Rent has a certain je ne sais quoi—it’s sharp, loose, and satisfying. Longtime Smino fans will love it, and it’ll introduce new listeners to a rising talent who shows no signs of slowing down.

Smino’s Luv 4 Rent is available through Zero Fatigue.