Long awaited and highly anticipated, Smino's Luv 4 Rent lived up to all expectations and did not disappoint. He knows how to have fun with his flows and carve caricatures in his cadence. Jazz runs through the veins of his rhythm while funk makes up the vertebrae. His vocals are smooth like shea butter, dripping in coconut oil.
His cousin ushers in the album with pitched melodic singing à la Frank Ocean on '4rm Da Source' which is later affirmed on the following track 'No L's' with the lyrics, "My bih ride around to Frank Ocean (these bitches want Nikes)" with the same tone in the adlibs. The attention to detail on these two tracks is very well crafted, as '4rm Da Source' ends with the sound of someone pounding on a door, then the sample of Monica's 'Knock Knock' is interpolated in the lyrics while the instrumental is flipped. Speaking of sampling, '90 Proof' takes the vocals from 'E Ma S'eka' by Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats and distorts them while amplifying the percussion as Groove and monte booker put their own spin on it. 'Pro Freak' samples a viral video of Traci Young Byron telling her dance students that they look good and to adjust their crowns which is looped before Fatman Scoop comes in with a couple of adlibs. Defibrillator's opening melancholy is supplied by the vocables of Jagged Edge's 'He Can't Love U', giving it a classic 90's R&B feel. Lastly, 'Lee & Lovie' (titled after Smino's grandparents) pitches up the harmonies from The O'Jays' 'I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today) while allowing the instrumental to lay the foundation for a song that feels like growing old with the one you love.
The features on the album vary in range, from R&B singers to hip hop household names. J. Cole's feature on '90 Proof' is a hybrid of signature J. Cole and vocals that feel a lot more melodic than what we're used to from him, he's definitely taken a leaf out of Smino's book. Fatman Scoop's adlibs on 'Pro Freak' help create texture on the song, while Doechii knocks her feature out of the park. Spitting at the speed of lightning, her wordplay is exquisite while her flow ranges from fast, choppy to singing all in the same verse. It's honestly one of the biggest highlights of the entire album. 'Louphoria' with Cruza is stunningly euphoric, as is the sensual lyrics and vocals from Cruza's vocalist Adam Kain. The bassline on this song really helps elevate that falling feeling before a Bootsy Collins-esque outro about "boarding the lovercraft". 'Matinee' sees Kal Banx name-dropping cities while Smino adlibs after every bar like a back and fourth. 'Modennaminute' has many highlights: the vulnerability in Phoelix's chorus is reflected in the slight lowering of pitch and subtle granular time stretching, Smino's pre-chorus alliteration and Lucky Daye's rich and glossy vocals. On 'Settle Down', Ravyn Lenae's feathery Neo-soul vocal stylings are met with a funky doo-wop infused tempo, whereas Cory Henry's interlude marries funk with spoken word. 'Pudgy' is another standout track, Lil Uzi Vert rides the hi-hat heavy beat with ease. 'Lee & Lovie' holds a short but sweet verse from reggie that really sums up the essence of the album.
There's a few odes to his previous albums if you listen closely enough. The chorus in 'Pro Freak' mirrors the bounce and tempo of 'KRUSHED ICE' with 'Pro freak but she get ghetto after Friday' feels like it derives from '...and she go crazy for the bassline'. On the gorgeous and soulful 'Modennaminute', the song concludes with an interlude of Smino asking a female employee at Krogers if they have any Backwoods which feels reminiscent of 'Wild Irish Roses' music video which sees Smino's love interest go into a corner store to by Backwoods, excerpts of which are heard on the track.
This album was worth the five year wait, no question. While his previous works were a lot to live up to, he's definitely provided his fans with range, bangers and fruitful messages dotted throughout the tracks. The album is a lot more sample heavy than his previous studio albums, which help create a layer of nostalgia among the contemporary genre-fusing production. Just praying he doesn't make us wait so long next time, because here at That Good Shit, we're always after more of what Smino's got.
Let's give it up for Kat Friar for writing this beautiful review <3