Smino - Luv 4 Rent Music Album Reviews

Smino - Luv 4 Rent Music Album Reviews
The rapper’s third album is an invitation into his domestic sphere in all of its messiness, controversies, and communal joy.

An echo of the poet Warsan Shire’s warning runs through Smino’s latest album: “You can’t make homes out of human beings, someone should have already told you that.” Written at a time when the 31-year-old discovered that all the love he gave out was not making its way back to him, Luv 4 Rent is a meditation on the mind maze of romantic, platonic, self, and familial intimacy. Across two studio albums, Smino has mastered sultry falsettos, funkafied productions, and clever wordplay. His third album is an invitation into his domestic sphere in all of its messiness, controversies, and communal joy. It’s not particularly diaristic, but more of a scrapbook of mementos collected as he looks for and hides from love.

Coming from a long line of musical church folk—his grandfather played bass for Muddy Waters—the former Sunday service drummer is on his “bluesy shit” on Luv 4 Rent. Gospel was Smino’s entry point into music but the voices of Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne, Stevie Wonder, and Aaliyah coming from the rooms of different family members diversified his palette as a youngster. These early influences pop up in Smino’s limber voice which can sound like many different people on one track, sometimes adopting the percussive cadences and contemplative delivery of André 3000 (“Pudgy”), hazy caramel vocals of George Clinton (“Settle Down”), and the rap-singing croons of Nelly (“Lee & Lovie”). On “90 Proof,” he tipsily confesses as a one-man choir over a Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats sample: “Not too great at relationships, at least I tryyyyyy.”

Smino’s playboy aloofness is central to his appeal, but at certain moments the album is best enjoyed when you’re bobbing your head without listening to the actual content of the lyrics. They can be humorously random (“Up in the woods, I feel like Clinton”) but also eyeroll-worthy (“Eat her with a spoon/Call her Reese”) and maybe offensive (“The people come greet me, my eyes on Konnichiwa”). He pulls together T.I.-level unnecessary vocab gymnastics to seemingly remind us that he’s a worthy MC (“get it?” he asks us in “Matinee”). On uncharacteristically somber tracks like “Louphoria” and “Modennaminute,” his seduction often reads as a thinly veiled attempt at human connection, especially on an outro skit when he tries to seduce a Kroger clerk after spending three minutes reminiscing on the mistakes he made with a past lover.

Moments of vulnerability are almost swept under his rapid-fire punchlines. There’s a tension of wanting a woman to hold him down, while grappling with the fleeting nature of romance and realizing that a human is not something that you can or should own. Still, he’s self-interrogative on this album: “Don’t blame yourself for all the shit you see me do/I’m gettin’ used to bein’ loved, girl, the right way.” Revealing his discomfort with this level of emotional availability, lines like this one slip out in his slurred speech. In the music video for “90 Proof,” Smino grimaces after downing a shot of alcohol after his partner begs him for transparency. Alcohol and marijuana are his vices and his muses.

In his “entrepenigga” era, on “Blu Billy” he compares the sometimes ruthless and selfish hustling he witnessed on the streets of Missouri as a young kid to what he feels he has to do to elevate himself in the industry and provide for his family. When he announced the upcoming release of his third studio album on the Bear Witness, Take Action 3 live stream, he spoke to the late comedian Teddy Ray about the unsustainability of putting everyone else’s needs before his own: “You go get the plate last and you like, ‘Damn, I’m hungrier than a bitch.” It’s not entirely clear if he’s critiquing systems of wealth inequality or going a bit JAY-Z to get a slice of the pie, perhaps the blurred lines are intentional: “Capitalistic, read through the lipstick/Shit that they make up/Make us forget shit,” he muses over a muted looping bassline.

Having spent the past couple of years featuring on other people’s albums, here he helms an all-star cast of collaborations. Smino’s ability to riff with many artists while allowing them to shine—a skill he finely tuned in his time spent as a member of various musical collectives early in his career—made stars like Lil Uzi hop on a track in a moment’s notice. Fellow Zero Fatigue crew member Ravyn Lenae lends her ethereal vocals on “Settle Down” and New Orleans singer Lucky Daye heightens the devastation on the surprisingly generic but reflective “Modennaminute.” Though these artists each maintain their distinct sound, they are Sminofied — even rappers like J. Cole can’t help but to sing. Out of all the rap features, Doechii’s stands out (“And you need her like Jolie” she raps, making it sound like she’s saying “Angelina”) and makes the bounce-inflected “Pro Freak” her own—assisted by Fatman Scoop’s horn-like ad-libs—with her double-time braggadocious flows.

As much as this Luv 4 Rent is introspective, it’s also a home video and a love letter to community—his hometown, St. Louis, and his Black musical collaborators and predecessors: “I’m the son of trees and moons and martyrs, authors.” Before the pandemic, Smino was working on an LP with the intention of appealing to a wider audience but decided to scrap that idea and look inward. His cousin opens the album singing a gospel-like ode to St. Louis through pitched-up vocals reminiscent of a Frank Ocean interlude and voicemails from Smino’s uncles and cousins showing him love and admiration are sprinkled across the album. Concert-like call and responses and a plethora of samples—an unconventional move for Smino—enhance the homespun communal feel of the album. Luv 4 Rent is a collection of sobering realizations amid porch-top ciphers, humid Midwestern summer block parties, Sunday after-service family gatherings, and late-night Backwoods-sponsored hookups—not fully fleshed out or universal but lively, raw, and a bit hectic.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Smino - Luv 4 Rent Music Album Reviews Smino - Luv 4 Rent Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 09, 2022 Rating: 5


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