J.I.D and Smino packed the house at the Hollywood Palladium last Monday for the first of two sold-out shows in Los Angeles. From renditions of melodic, soulful songs to energizing hard-hitting rap, the two artists delivered a dynamic performance while accompanied by a star-studded lineup of fellow musicians.
The two artists announced their co-headlining “Luv is 4Ever” tour back in early October, with all 32 stops sold out by the beginning of the tour. The news came on the heels of the release of J.I.D’s widely acclaimed third studio album “The Forever Story” in August, with Smino’s third album “Luv 4 Rent” arriving about two weeks after the initial announcement. J.I.D’s return to the solo stage was particularly anticipated, since this is his first headlining tour since his “Catch Me If You Can Tour” in 2019.
Atlanta-based rapper SwaVay was the first to perform and opened the show with a short set. Alternative R&B musician Schenay Mosley followed next, performing a few of her original songs.
Smino then took to the stage with an energetic rendition of songs such as “Curtains” and the bouncy “Z4L.”
A display screen made of two hearts switched between clips of him performing live and scenes from his music video for “Lee and Lovie” from “Luv 4 Rent,” adding to the grooviness of the tracks.
The passion in his studio versions was just as present in his live performance, particularly the crooning at the beginning and end of “90 Proof.” Each track was accompanied by a live band, and the saxophonist and guitarist helped bring the jazz and neo-soul influences to life.
Following several songs from “Luv 4 Rent” and “Noir,” Smino took it back to his roots with a slower-paced performance of “Wild Irish Roses,” one of the most popular singles from his debut album “blkswn.” He and Mosley, who had provided backing vocals throughout the set, harmonized with low and high notes throughout the performance.
Smino then amped up the energy of the set with an unreleased song that features Honorable C. Note and “Pro Freak,” and he brought out rapper Doechii to perform her verse of the song. He showed off some of his quicker rapping abilities, and Doechii’s spirited delivery elevated the crowd’s enthusiasm.
Smino neared the end of his set with “Anita,” another one of his top tracks from “blkswn.” The performance of “Anita” came as a welcome surprise, as he had not done it at previous shows, and the crowd cheered as soon as the familiar introductory beats played. Mosley’s vocals particularly shined in this song, adding a soulful and feminine feel in tune with the spirit of the track, which is a tribute to Black women.
The last song of the set, “No L’s” from “Luv 4 Rent,” ended the performance on a high note. Smino’s high energy and collected delivery prompted the crowd to bob their heads and jump up and down, preparing them for J.I.D’s set.
The heart-shaped screens flashed red and blue, indicating J.I.D’s soon-to-be entrance. J.I.D began his set on a more introspective note, starting with “Galaxy,” the introduction to “The Forever Story.” He maintained a collected demeanor, making sure to hype up the audience while showcasing his signature flow in “Never.”
J.I.D then transitioned to a more mellow section of his set, delivering an emotional performance of “Kody Blue 31″ as the crowd waved their hands to the lyrics “Swang on, swang on.” J.I.D emphasized that the song was an important moment in the show.
To keep with the reflective theme of the middle of his performance, J.I.D brought out his first surprise guest of the night, English musician James Blake. After the two artists performed a song together, J.I.D stepped to the side of the stage and asked Blake to perform one of his favorite tracks. The audience waited in anticipation, cheering as soon as they heard the familiar humming of Blake’s “Retrograde.” As Blake continued the song, a rapture fell over the crowd.
Despite the size of the venue, J.I.D preserved the intimacy of his earlier solo shows by leaning in towards his audience and bringing the emotions of his tracks to life with his powerful stage presence. He performed songs from his previous two albums “DiCaprio 2″ and “The Never Story” with a passion that elevated them beyond their already well-produced recorded versions.
As he began the first few verses of “Stars,” white lights beamed up from below the stage and sparkling deep blue skies appeared on the display screens. A blanket of soft pinkish-red light drifted over the audience, creating an almost ethereal atmosphere to finish this part of the show.
Of course, J.I.D had to end his set with some of his characteristic lyrical, hard-hitting rap tracks. He announced to the crowd that the show was going to go from 9 to 10 with the next song. During “Off Deez,” a song that features legendary rapper J. Cole, whose label Dreamville Records he is signed to, J.I.D showed off his fast rapping abilities and elevated up the tempo and energy of the concert even more.
Speaking of Dreamville Records, J.I.D surprised the crowd again by bringing out long-time collaborators EARTHGANG, who he met when they were both students at Hampton University. The musicians are part of an artist collective called Spillage Village and have released several joint projects in the past several years.
This time, they performed “Meditate” from EARTHGANG’s 2017 EP “Rags.” They followed this up with a guest appearance by Bas, another Dreamville artist. The crowd bounced up and down as the four rappers performed “Down Bad,” a single from the 2019 Dreamville collaborative album “Revenge of the Dreamers III.”
After J.I.D continued the show with “Surround Sound,” another high energy track from “The Forever Story,” he indicated that he would be stepping into the crowd and asked audience members in the first few rows to support him. Mosh pits had already formed before the iconic trumpet notes of “Stick” blasted through the venue, and the crowd roared as they chanted the chorus.
EARTHGANG, who had briefly gone back to the wings, came back on stage, and encouraged the crowd even more. “Stick” featured an intense electric guitar interlude and extended drum solo. J.I.D had taken the crowd through a rollercoaster of emotions, finishing up on the highest note possible.
As the crowd came down from the post-mosh energy surge and made their way out of the venue, many said that this was the best show they had ever been to. With the dynamism and stage presences of both Smino and J.I.D, coupled with complimentary visuals and surprise guests, the first LA show of the duo’s tour was a night to remember “4ever.”