The historic, green suburbs of mountain-nestled Glendale, CA was populated by more than just old-Hollywood this weekend. Smino’s album preview and activation for Luv 4 Rent kicked off a week ahead of the project’s release to generate insight on the album’s inspiration and to celebrate with some of hip-hop’s brightest creators.
“The Luv Lord” and team rented out a white, two-story home with a spacious yard concealed by 20 foot hedges. The concept was to create an insulated re-make of Smino’s St. Louis, Missouri home, almost like the rapper was moving to Los Angeles. What seemed like an inconspicuous set-up from the outside was actually one of the most inventive, hands-on album activations of the year. Realty signs were posted throughout the yard, displaying various track titles from the project and boasting service to “Skansas City And All Surrounding Cities.” Smino’s childhood room was on full display during the “house tours” given by a well-dressed “agent”, and a child actor posed as a young Smino, playing video games and sitting on a Cardinal’s bed spread. Inflatable black swans peppered a running jacuzzi in the backyard as a clever nod to Smino's first release, blkswn, in 2017. In the kitchen was an aproned woman serving thin-crust pizza; the RnB rapper had gone as far as flying in Imo’s Pizza all the way from St. Louis, Missouri.
Other key features of the tour included piles of moving boxes, televisions arranged SZA Ctrl style, a framed photo of Jay-Z and Smino, an album-cover recreation station, a jukebox with Smino’s discography, and open house pamphlets. Red-Checkered Picnic tables, string lights and catered soul food was spread across the backyard. The whole effort was sponsored by Smino’s labels, Zero Fatigue, EQT and Motown Records, Amazon Music’s Rotation, and Big.Ass.Kids. It was unclear if Smino was posing as a real estate agent, a mover, or both, but it was executed confidently enough not to question it.
At around 9 PM it started to drizzle, and a large white umbrella was hoisted above the DJ table as Smino took the mic to thank the guests. He stated simply, “I have a lot of respect for all of you here, thank you for coming” and started the unreleased album. Around 150 lucky guests, each one more famous and accomplished than the next, encircled the rapper. BJ The Chicago Kid and Denzel Curry mixed into the crowd. Mereba, Lucky Daye and Monte Booker danced at the center. Halfway through the playback, Smino stopped the DJ and had him repeat “Modennaminute” so he and Lucky Daye could “fully appreciate” their song again. The upcoming album has several other noteworthy features including Doechii, Lil Uzi Vert, and several members of Zero Fatigue that elevate and compliment Smino’s drawling rap.
Visit Luv4Rent.com for more details and to “Smi-Save” the album.