Luv 4 Rent by Smino | Album Review
Reviewing the third studio album from the chill rapper
I was just talking with Paul K. Barnes about how I’m not particularly interested in “chill rap”, a genre artist like Smino comfortably fit in. But this selection, Luv 4 Rent, may end up changing my mind. This is my introduction to Smino other than some off-handed feature tracks and I can say I’m intrigued. The combination of country rap and funk-influenced R&B is unique and oddly enticing.
It’s evident from the first three tracks alone that the artist is vocally versatile bringing an impressive range of tones for every mood. The lead single, “90 Proof” with J.Cole, serves as a regenerative funk-focused track with an emphasis on the wailings of the chorus that largely focuses on a budding love and the beginnings of a relationship despite Smino’s inexperience. This funk jazz-house track is well complemented by a genre bending J. Cole feature, who goes outside the norm and settles into low-key, smoke-influenced vibe, similarly speaking on a relationship.
I get heavy roll bounce vibes from Luv 4 Rent, a neo-funk that weaves between psychedelic and R&B influence. Smino ability to traverse through these tracks with an impeccable flow creates for some of the most addicting listens, even with minimalistic and, at times, shallow lyrics. With that comes a bit of monotony, some of the tracks blend together a bit too well and start to sound the same. Largely, features break up this sonic homogeny well enough. Cruza’s verse on “Louphoria” was timely and brought about a very Miguel-esque refreshment.
My complaints of chill-rap still stand as I progress throughout the album. I don’t see any urgency to create a focus or commitment to a style presentation. While there are underlying plots with skits dropped here and there, they aren’t revelatory enough for me to keep intently focused through the entirety of the 50 minute listen. As a result, an already lengthy listen feels weighed down even more as we slough through an inebriated and at times uninspired tracklist. At times I ask myself, what does Smino really have to offer? All the versatility in the vocals and styles don’t particularly mesh well 100% of the time to me. While this is largely boils down to preference, I can see the appeal, it just doesn’t do it for me.
I will say I really enjoy tracks such as “Modennaminute” and “Pudgy”, but again, those benefit from features because they interrupt that monotony. They lean towards a more genre-focused tracks that are influenced by the featured artist. Uzi provides a more trap-oriented track with exacting lyrics that flow better from verse to verse. Lucky Daye brings in silky vocals that complement that faster paced, R&B centric world of persistent black love. The last track “Lee & Lovie” (also with a feature) works as well — this is more of a soul track with a melodic focus.
There are some good moments in this album, and again, this probably boils down to preference, but I’m not a huge fan of Luv 4 Rent. It lacks any appealing or attention grabbing tracks that also rely heavy of the Smino. If there was a commitment to a style beyond that of an uninspired, not quite lazy “chill-rap” approach I already wasn’t keen on, it would’ve ranked higher. It might not be a popular, but this can score no higher than a seven in my opinion.
Favorite Tracks: Modennaminute, Pudgy, Lee & Lovie
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