Review: Smino and JID at Terminal 5

SOS Youth Advisory Council member Madaleine Cutone attended Smino and JID's gig at Terminal 5 NYC on Friday, March 3 and had only rave reviews for the night.

March 7, 2023

By Madaleine Cutone

All Photos by Madaleine Cutone

This week in the wide world of New York City live music, Smino and JID hit the Terminal 5 stage for their “Luv is 4ever” tour and brought all the energy along with them. The tour was named after the pair's recent album releases: JID’s The Forever Story, and Smino’s Luv 4 Rent. It’s been years since I’ve gotten to be an audience member at a rap concert (not since Rolling Loud 2019), and let me tell you, I’ve been starving. Don’t get me wrong, I love my alt/indie shows just as much as the next Phoebe Bridgers stan, but sometimes you just want to be knocked around a little bit– surf a few crowds. The whole night felt like a testament to my younger self, and I felt the forgotten, abandoned predicaments of those teenage years seeping out of every pore in my body with each lyric I fervently yelled along to. Curating this tour was a genius move— odds are, if you listen to JID, you also listen to Smino. Despite this shared fanbase, the two artists bring different elements to the table when they each take the stage. The night was composed of an overall intelligent balance of sheer hype and musical depth. Once the show came to a close, I had a harder time leaving the venue than usual as the two rappers really did leave me (and many others) wanting more.

Both JID and Smino have seen a lot of success in recent years, but this rise to fame certainly did not come overnight for either of the two rappers. JID’s conclusive album track “2007” details his lengthy journey to musical triumph in the industry, from before rapping was even a mere flicker on his radar, up through his signing with Dreamville in 2017. The Atlantan’s father, Carl Louis Route Jr., even makes an appearance on the piece to help paint the picture. The whole night I was hoping we would get to see the father/son duo take the stage together, but alas, you can’t always get what you want. 

Smino grew up in a musical family from Missouri, beginning his musical career at the young age of seven when his father gifted him a drum set. He then began to play in his local church’s band, and started out rapping soon after. Despite seeing local success for a while, getting music successfully out into the world proved to be a different story. His 2017 debut studio album blkswn was released to welcoming critics and open-armed fans, and his career has only continued to climb ever since.

Jordan Ward tagged along to open up the night at Terminal 5, and he brought with him a spark that the crowd definitely needed after waiting for hours in a line that spanned blocks on end. His album FORWARD had dropped that morning, and the joy from the release radiated off of him as he moved across the stage– not an inch of space was wasted during his set. Opening up a show like this is no easy task, and Jordan was definitely up to the challenge– both energetically and musically.

Smino took the stage next– the crowd was buzzing with anticipation, repeatedly chanting his name with growing vigor and volume as he was introduced to the passionate scene. He started off his set with his hit song “KLINK,” and then flowed seamlessly into his single “Rice and Gravy” before making introductions to his fans, and eventually getting into his main reason for this tour– the Luv 4 Rent tracks. His set provided a well-crafted array of peaks and valleys in pace and liveliness, but kept a light and bouncy energy throughout. Fans rapped along all around me, seemingly lost in their own world with Smino as they explored their own personal relationship with him and his music. 

There was much more collective movement in the audience with JID’s set– the crowd unified and moshed together as the JID made his way through his newest album, making occasional digressions into his past releases. He displayed his broad spectrum of vocal functionality and smoothness when he slowed the evening down with “Workin’ Out” off of his sophomore album, DiCaprio 2, and came off superhuman with his clear annunciation of every word off “Off Deez” from the same release. Myself and everyone around me nearly imploded when JID did us the tremendous favor of bringing out the beloved Joey Bada$$ for a surprise performance of “Love is Only a Feeling.” It felt like the whole room was shaking from the sheer volume and enthusiasm of the audience singing along. JID’s set was a perfect culmination for the night– he went above and beyond, and even stuck around a while after his set, leaning over the audience barrier for minutes on end to provide autographs to his supporters. His face was all smiles while doing so.  

Both rappers had fairly extensive sets, with Smino performing fifteen tracks, and JID’s numbers ringing in at seventeen. Regardless, the crowd’s energy didn’t seem to dip a single time, and only grew stronger as the night progressed. Honestly, we would’ve stayed as long as they’d have us. The only bummer of the evening was that the two rappers didn’t perform together at any point– although Smino did jump on stage for JID’s closing performance of Dreamville’s “Stick” to bid his fans farewell. But overall, we laughed, we cried, we raged– and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my Friday evening any other way.