JID And Smino Are The Perfect Match On Their ‘Luv Is 4ever Tour’

It’s really hard not to gush about how proud I am of JID and Smino after seeing them completely pack out the Hollywood Palladium two nights in a row for their joint Luv Is 4ever Tour. Four years ago, I was recapping JID’s tour for DiCaprio 2, complimenting him on the creative use of cardboard standees onstage. Tuesday night (January 31), the 32-year-old Atlanta native showed command of a stage and a crowd four times that size, with little aid at all.

Likewise, catching Smino at The Fonda that same year, just a couple of months later, I noted the contrast between the smooth St. Louisan and his peers. His throwback energy really pulled a resonant string in my elder millennial heart, bringing me back to a time when a fresh triple-XL white tee was all you needed to feel fly.

This time, as I took in the size of the capacity crowd from the balcony — a vantage point for which my knees were indescribably grateful — I was awed by the enthusiasm of the concertgoers. Sure, both rappers have picked up a wealth of new fans mainly through their efforts at similarly packed (and growing) festival sets, but their audiences aren’t really primarily composed of teens anymore, either.

So to see the delight with which these late-20-somethings bounced and rocked and waved and danced and moshed was heartening. I’ve been to a lot of shows, and I can tell you, as crowds get older (especially in LA, where folks are notoriously way too cool to dance), their ardor for physical reactions to artists’ onstage movements starts to fall precipitously.

All this is a testament to the performance prowess of the co-headliners, who both balanced their hour-long sets with selections from their respective 2022 albums, The 4ever Story and Luv 4 Rent, as well as fan favorites from across their catalogs. Even more impressive was the fact that plenty of the newer material elicited as exuberant a response from the audience as the established hits.

Smino’s set, which closed the show, was especially striking because you almost wouldn’t expect his slinky, laid-back beats to play like the rollicking big-band funk of a group like The Gap Band or The Time in a live setting. But they do, which is surprising considering the stripped-down nature of his band — just a keyboardist, his producer, Kal Banx, and a drummer.

Likewise, JID was joined onstage by Christo and a keyboardist of his own, who actually played a keytar at one point — and I’m all the way here for a resurgence of that particular instrument — as JID headbanged along. Even my increasingly creaky knees couldn’t resist putting in a few minutes of jack-in-the-box-style bouncing (which I’m currently paying for; it was worth it).

Naturally, there were guest stars galore. JID’s Spillage Village co-stars Earthgang joined him for a couple of songs, while Smino’s set was graced by BJ The Chicago Kid and Westside Boogie. I even spied a few other collaborators like Buddy and Wynne milling around taking in the show from the VIP section. But the surprise of the night was when JID introduced one of his best friends, who turned out to be rock-rapper Trippie Redd.

The crowd even had a warm reception for the duo’s opener, Atlanta native Swavay, whose finale included leaving the stage to lead a swirling maelstrom of a mosh pit. Usually, when a rapper cries “open it up,” I can’t help but roll my eyes a bit at the half-hearted attempts to clear space on the floor for some mischief. Swavay got it right.

The big takeaway from the success of the evening, though, is probably how it points to the way fanbases grow these days. As much as nearly everyone in the industry frowns at the pittances DSPs pay artists for their music, in the absence of a working touring infrastructure for the past two years, streaming not only sustained middle-class acts like JID and Smino, it grew their support. They might be middle class for much longer.

The long break between tours likely also gave fans a chance to miss these artists, making their returns feel more like an event. There’s something to that, I think; in this era where it seems the only pathway to success is oversaturating the marketplace, experience is telling us that a “less is more” approach might be just as effective — so long as the quality of the product remains high.

With JID and Smino, the quality was never really in doubt. When I saw both at those smaller venues all those years ago, I knew each was a star. Although they have different approaches — JID high-energy, Smino calm — they both exude charm and charisma and polished, carefully practiced skill (how they breathe as fast as they rap, I’ll forever wonder). That’s the reason fans always want more. I already can’t wait for them to come back.