Following the recent release of his second studio album NOIR, an exciting announcement came to
Smino's Instagram earlier in January. In the form of a creative promotional
skit, shot at what appeared to be a used car shop, the St. Louis-based rapper,
singer, songwriter, and producer explains to the car dealer that he is in
search for a reliable "hoopti" (an old, but functional car) to get him from one
city to the next for his tour across North America. As if the announcement of
his tour wasn't enough, even more exciting was the news of his designated tour-hoopti
taking a park here in New Orleans.
Opening acts for Tuesday's show at the House of Blues included Chicago-based vocalist Phoelix, followed by the hip-hop duo from Atlanta, EarthGang. They both brought infectious energies to the stage, setting the tone for what would be a memorable show filled with quality vocals and high energy. EarthGang in particular hyped the crowd up, pulling volunteers on stage to party with them. Using the power of crowd interaction, the duo prompted each volunteer, one by one, to step to center stage and dance along with chants from the crowd, encouraging them in unison with "aye, aye, aye, aye!"
Shortly after the pair left the stage: Representing his hometown in a bright red STL baseball jersey and sporting a blue-rimmed plastic visor flipped backwards, Smino appeared to a roaring crowd-a crowd that continued its roar for the entirety of his set. On the stage-decorated to match his hoopti theme, with hanging rims and stacked tires-he performed favorites from NOIR, such as "Pizano," "Z4L," and, of course, "Hoopti," as well as other crowd-pleasing anthems from older projects, such as "Anita," and "Netflix and Dusse."
As if the energy in the venue hadn't already been amplified with non-stop dancing and lyric-belting, a highlight of the night came towards the end of the show, when Smino performed the bass-heavy song "Krushed Ice" from NOIR; he encouraged those standing on the floor who pleased, to migrate to the center for a mosh pit.
"Just be nice and don't hurt anyone, though," he added as his only request.
Of course, when Smino exited the stage, the crowd hadn't had enough and chanted "Smino" in demand of an encore. Tireless (and shirtless this time), Smino came back to perform "Klink" and "Bam 2x," both songs from his latest album.
Since his blkswn debut, by way of his own unique style, sound, and lyrics, Smino shows immense pride in being black and ensures that he prioritizes the celebration of black culture in his music. His latest album is no different-hence the name (noir is French for black). The first song on the album even opens with a woman whispering in a heavy French accent, "Noir, what a beautiful name. Black, statuesque, you know? Strong, sweet, that's what I think when I think of noir."
The album also features other staple familiarities, such as Smino's witty play on words and rhythmic melodies. As he is admittedly influenced by artists such as Andre 3000, T-Pain, Ludacris, jazz artist Herbie Hancock, gospel artist Tye Tribet, and a long line of musicians in his family, his sound can best be described as having a sort of funk/jazz/soul-rap vibe. Evident in his rise over the years, Smino's authentic sound, style, and contagious "black boy joy" is admired and adored. This admiration is just as evident in the packed house he brought to the New Orleans House of Blues.
The hoopti will continue to roll for 12 more shows, up until early August.