LUV4Rent: A Biased Review


Smino at “Kribmas”, his annual St. Louis holiday benefit concert in December 2022. *Captured from the nosebleediest of all seats.

I have long been a fan of reading album reviews on platforms such as Pitchfork or Rolling Stone. The reviewers either biting criticism or glowing praise of artists’ bodies of work are just fascinating to unpack. In an unspoken way, these reviews have the capacity to determine if you (as a separate and apart individual) have taste or not.

One thing these reviews all tend to have in common is a measure of objectivity in their review. You probably read the title of this post and immediately noticed its oxymoronic nature, and yes that is intentional. My favorite reviews of books, music, art, etc. (glowing or scathing) feel tangible and human. They do not seek to distance themselves from the thought-provoking or mind-numbing art they consumed. If they had a unique experience with the art, I would hope they would share all that their experience had to offer.

Ok.. yes.. I’m getting on with it! My ideas are simply smaller thoughts wearing standing on top of one another wearing a trench coat. I’m from St. Louis, Smino’s from St. Louis, can I make it more obvious?


In October 2022, rapper and St. Louis native Smino released his third studio album “Luv 4 Rent”. This 15-track project takes the listeners passenger side on a late night city drive, invites them to witness the the noise of a rambunctious Black cookout, and to watch the “old heads” (that still got it) slow dance and Chicago step the night away, all in one 51 minute listen.

Before the album’s release, the album was previewed by the release of “90 Proof” in September 2022, a neo-soul, yet hip-hop cut ft. rapper J. Cole. In the lead single, Smino smoothly sings and raps about his struggles in past relationships and how it’ll take a few rounds until he gets it right. These metaphoric rounds like relationships, are a double entendre for the “90 proof liquor” he’s sipping in the single’s cover art.

The album itself does not follow a specific chronological order, yet it follows a loose plot of love for his family, significant other(s), and community are what keep him alive and with “shelter”. To achieve this, “Luv 4 Rent” was filled to the brim with Smino’s witty storytelling, impressive lyricism, and agency over his art.

Smino weaves rap, soul, hip-hop and R&B so seamlessly together as he offers up family anecdotes and incorporates his family in voice memos in the song transitions.

This family affair of an album did not end at his own family, but includes an impressive list of features with: Doechii, Fatman Scoop, Cruz, Lucky Daye, Phoenix, Kal Bane, Cory Henry, Ravyn Lenae, Lil Uzi Vert, and reggie. All members of past and contemporary spaces of the genres he blends together throughout his discography and this album respectively.

Outside of the tracks themselves, Smino supplemented this sizable project with incredibly creative visualizers and a music video turned short-film for “90 Proof“. Without a doubt, “Luv 4 Rent” has continued to strengthen his title of “multi-hyphenate” and added to his sheer uniqueness in the music industry today.

Candace’s Favorites

With all that being said, it’s time to get into my favorites on the album. For me, this album is absolutely no skips. Each song is such an original story, a different version of Smino, and an overall vibe that can’t be replaced by other tracks. They all stand out.

But! My top three tracks are:

  • “Pro Freak” (with Doechii and Fatman Scoop)
    • Listening to “Pro Freak” immediately gets me to dance. It is the summer cookout song. It feels like short shorts, lip gloss and good food. The trio of Smi, Doechii, and Fatman Scoop is the embodiment of rap constantly evolving with the culture.
      • Doechii’s is unforgettable.
  • “Matinee” ft. Kal Banx
    • This is my top song on the album. This smooth R&B and hip-hop single is a celebration of community and all the Black folks in cities across the United States (especially St. Louis).
    • Smino samples/does an interpolation of the Black classic “Da’ Butt” and shoutouts some prominent places
  • “Lee & Lovie” (with reggie)
    • Lee & Lovie is smooth and just so beautiful. Smino retells the story of his grandparents and their love for one another. The song feels nostalgic for all the beauty that is Black love, and growing old together.