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Smino stuns on third studio album ‘Luv 4 Rent’

“Rent’s due” for Smino. Everytime he shares new music to the masses, it’s bound to be something special — and Luv 4 Rent is no different.

Delivering an eclectic mix of smoothly-sung raps and woozy R&B over the course of his career, the St. Louis emcee’s third studio album is a true sonic anamoly. Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, Ravyn Lenae, J. Cole, Lucky Daye, Doechii, Monte Booker and more, the 15-track LP not only reasserts Smino’s highly-refined lyrical talent, but takes his sound to an entirely new level.

Striving for the perfection by just being himself, Luv 4 Rent is in all parts about the different types of love Smi has experienced. On the record’s second single “Matinee,” which largely highlights his signature slant rhymes, he vocally captivates over contemplative keys and fast-paced percussion. “My baby do it like she tryna pay her rent,” he drawls over the Kal Banx-produced cut, wooing his love interest with other flex-filled bars like “if it’s cold I Moncler her, make no error / I’m the gold, I’m the treasure / I’ma rare bird.” Indeed.

With other early highlights in “Modennaminute,” “Pudgy” with Uzi and “Louphoria” the album’s lead single “90 Proof” featuring J. Cole remains the cornerstone of the record. The groovy, loose-flowing track hears Smino effortlessly skate over hazy guitar riffs, live drums and a funky baseline. His uplifting vocals skip from side to side, sing-rapping: “Play me the song and set the mood / She want the truth it’s 90 proof I hide behind the faders.”

Before Cole hops in, the 808-infused drum break sees the Dreamville boss tears off “I got a real one, if I was broke, she neva’ leave me.” Quickly spitting lines like “You know they gonna GOAT me / I spell it out for you like Fabolous,” Cole turns in yet another memorable guest verse — continuing his seemingly neverending streak of strong features. The pair have become close in recent years too, as Smi’s relationship with Cole has always been based on respect.

Recently, Smino visited the Bootleg Kev Podcast to discuss how the album went through three rounds of edits before he settled on the final version. He also revealed that he already has another album completed and could put it out at any time.

Coinciding this conversation, Smino and Dreamville’s JID announced their ‘Luv Is 4Ever’ joint tour, as the “Bagetti” duo is set to embark on a 32-date trek starting in January 2023. Combining both The Forever Story and Luv 4 Rent, JID and Smino are poised to reach new heights as fresh-pressed superstars.

Reigniting L4R’s rollout with his YouTube exclusive “24-8,” the loose single proved to be an open letter of sorts for the Lou rapper. Recruiting Chicago-based producer Phoelix — who has his fingers all over L4R — “24-8” proved to a true Kobe moment for Smino.

No one keeps tempo quite like him either. Showcasing that he has bars for days, the track’s upbeat, laidback energy allows for a realistic depiction of Smi’s life — hitting the grocery store and warming up by the fire in the visual.

He originally announced the LP in an interview with the late Teddy Ray last year (Dec. 7), revealing that L4R’s concept is all about “different types of love.” Also performing L4R’s preamble “I Deserve” on the inaugural episode of “WHAT SAY WHAT?”, Smino seems more than ready to gift fans with his third studio album in “DROPTOBER.”

Amid a potent feature run in 2022 — hopping on Sabas Few Good Things, Westside Boogie’s “Can’t Get Over You,” Ravyn Lenae’s Hypnos and “Ameyoncé” off EARTHGANG’s Ghetto Gods deluxe — it’s been nearly a year since fans have heard any solo effort from Smino. Prior to “I Deserve,” the beloved alt-rapper dropped “Rice and Gravy” in May 2021, which was backed by production from longtime collaborator Monte Booker.

Before that, he shared an Audiomack / SoundCloud exclusive mixtape She Already Decided, which touts memorable holdovers in “Chips & Juice,” “2MuchFronto” and remixes of tracks like Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” and Baby Keem’s “Orange Soda.”

Smino initially broke out by way of his eclectic debut album blkswn (2017) and its sophomore follow-up NOIR (2018). While Smino continues his reign as one of music’s most impressive and infectious voices, he unearths his innermost thoughts, feelings and fears through love on Luv 4 Rent.

Listen to “Luv 4 Rent” below!