“Luv” was in the air at hip hop mainstays J.I.D and Smino‘s show at the historic MTELUS theatre in Montreal, QC on March 12. The Zoink Gang members are co-headlining the North American “Luv Is 4Ever Tour,” its name a play on the titles of albums released in 2022: Smino’s Luv 4 Rent and J.I.D’s critically acclaimed The Forever Story.
The show marks nearly four years since Smino and J.I.D visited Montreal in 2019, just two days apart on their respective tours at the 650-person capacity L’Astral. Given that they share a fanbase, it seems natural for the rappers to combine forces—this time, to a sold-out crowd of 2,300.
The venue buzzed as it welcomed opening act Jordan Ward to the stage. The 28-year-old R&B singer from St. Louis, MO energetically bounded onto the scene as his DJ began playing “IDC,” the lead single from his debut album FORWARD, released on March 3.
Ward grinned from ear to ear as he sang over a selection of upbeat, funk-influenced beats. His background as a trained dancer (who previously toured as a backup dancer for artists like Justin Bieber and Becky G) shone through, particularly when he stuck a graceful landing from a flying spin kick during his performance of “Lil Baby Crush.”
Not long after Ward’s set, Smino‘s band and backup singer Schènay Mosley got the crowd primed for a grand entrance. Smino walked in donning the braggadocio of a well-seasoned rapper and a red muscle shirt that read “Show Me Love,” on par with the tour’s theme. Also hailing from St. Louis, he flashed a 314 area code chain draped around his neck, showing love for his hometown.
Cheers erupted as he launched into “KLINK,” from his 2018 sophomore album NØIR, and the crowd added another vocal layer to the song with stadium chants that echoed throughout the hall. The setlist included singles and album cuts dating back to Smino’s 2017 debut blkswn, showcasing a range of lyrical witticisms and smooth, soulful singing.
“I know y’all speak French, but how many of y’all know Spanish?” Smino quipped as he invited the audience to sing along to R&B ballad “Wild Irish Roses,” which includes the line “Casa su casa, how’s yo Spanish?”
Fans were kept on their toes as they were treated to stripped-down portions of some songs, at times supported by just the drummer, as well as an impressive electric guitar solo and light show in the last minute of “Louphoria.” Smino and his crew rode out the show on high intensity, performing fan favourite “No L’s” to a raucous crowd.
The mood changed dramatically when it came time for J.I.D‘s set. The lights dimmed, leaving the venue illuminated by the glow of two heart-shaped screens at the back of the stage. The Forever Story‘s opening track “Galaxy” played as the screens displayed a video of outer space. It felt like the audience was about to be treated to a movie.
The cinematic experience may have come as no surprise for longtime fans of J.I.D, whose 2018 album DiCaprio 2 drew inspiration from the 2010 film Inception and features an Oscar-like golden statuette on its cover. As if to further prove his passion for cinema, the Atlanta, GA rapper emerged onto the stage wearing pants with stills from the 1976 horror classic Carrie printed on them.
J.I.D then snapped the audience out of its trance with “NEVER,” from his 2017 debut The Never Story (released shortly after he signed to mentor J. Cole’s Dreamville label). He showed a masterful command of the venue: just as quickly as he got everyone riled up and bouncing to tracks like “Off Da Zoinkys” and “Dance Now,” he quieted the floor to have them listen in solemnity to “Bruddanem” and “Sistanem,” songs that reflect on his relationships with loved ones and how they’ve been impacted by his growing fame. Pictures of family members flashed across the heart-shaped screens as J.I.D sat between them, giving him the appearance of wings.
“This next song is the most important thing I’ve done,” J.I.D said introducing “Kody Blu 31,” a heartfelt ode to a friend grieving the death of a child that also touches on his own upbringing and losses. He showed off his vocal chops on the gospel-like hymn and fans swayed their lit-up cellphones in the air as they sang along: “Swang on, swang on.”
J.I.D often cut the tension with comic relief, at one point unexpectedly clicking his heels in the air and giggling with the audience. Later on, he smiled down at a group of kids struggling to rap along with his rapid-fire delivery, tripped up on his own lyrics, yelled “Bahhh!” and burst into a fit of laughter.
Much like with Smino, J.I.D’s performance was enriched by a skilled live band, which included a keyboardist who stole the spotlight several times by shredding on the keytar. J.I.D brought him out for the show’s fiery closer, “Stick” from Dreamville’s 2022 D-Day mixtape. Smino returned to the stage for the finale, wearing a black ski mask with a heart-shaped cut-out, and joined J.I.D in throwing up hand hearts to the roaring fans—and the fans showed hearts right back. The love shared from both sides of the barricade sure seemed like a forever thing.
Smino Online: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music | SoundCloud
J.I.D Online: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music | SoundCloud
View all remaining tour dates here.