The Mission Ballroom has quickly become an essential tour stop for hip-hop’s most impressive acts. Most recently, JID and Smino, two Southern rap artists with a long creative history and a highly respected presence both on and off stage, stopped by on their Luv Is 4ever tour — a play on words that combines the albums each artist dropped last year: Smino’s Luv 4 Rent and JID’s The Forever Story. The production was small, but the energy was huge. While each artists made their way through an impressive catalog ranging from dynamic R&B tunes to aggressive moshpit bangers, a live band brought an extra flair throughout the performance.
Smino was up first, and it was quite some time before he performed any songs off of his 2022 Luv 4 Rent album, instead leaning into fan favorites like the colorful “Klink” and “Rice and Gravy.” Immediately, it became clear how crucial the live band would be throughout the performance, especially during tracks like “Louphoria,” which featured a special guitar solo to close the performance on a high note.
Still, Smino didn’t neglect his latest album, playing energetic summertime anthems like “No L’s,” “Ole Ass Kendrick” and “Matinee,” which were all performed with a tenacious smile and fun-loving spirit. Oh ya, and Smino’s singing was on point. He never missed a beat. A perfect way to start the Luv is 4ever tour stop in Denver.
Although Smino and JID share much of the same fanbase, the energy these performers brought to the stage was vastly different. Smino’s performance radiated a strange innocence — a soundtrack to an adult field trip to a bounce-house palace with a dash of psychedelic mushrooms thrown in for good measure.
JID, on the other hand, chose a much different route — one of dark alleyway anthems and sweaty moshpits. The crowd was relatively laid back during Smino’s set, taking in the music and swaying accordingly. But when JID came out, he came out swinging.
Enter “NEVER,” JID’s breakout 2016 hit. It’s a grimy, nocturnal hustler’s anthem with explosive bass, unforgettable hook and whirling sound design. The perfect recipe for a proper moshpit.
When the lights went dark and “never been shit, never had shit” started blasting, the crowd got the cue. Immediately, the room exploded into a state of musical mania — if you were close to the front of the stage, you’d have been lucky if your feet managed to find solid ground. More than likely, though, you were carried by the relentless tides of a rowdy (but still respectful) crowd.
There weren’t any elbows thrown (at least not where I was standing), but it was definitely proper moshpit. It was all in good fun though, as whenever someone got knocked down, they were immediately helped up and rewarded the occasional “that was fucking sick!” from a stranger in the crowd for their all-but-graceful tumble.
Of course, moshing wasn’t the only highlight of the night. Again, the live band proved essential for creating a cohesive concert experience that was more than your traditional rapper/DJ on-stage combo. Tracks like “Dance Now” came alive with drum solos and unique percussive elements that were saved for special moments, adding a new dimension to the trap-club banger.
After a solid 40 minutes of balls-to-the wall energy, JID slowed it down for a few songs to show off his singing abilities and creative versatility. Jazzy slowcuts like “Bruddanem,” “Sistanem” and “Koda Blu 31” rang out beautiful melodies and rich instrumental ballots behind an impressive display of vocal abilities — particularly “Koda Blue 31,” which JID announced as the song that always made his nervous to perform. Thankfully, the crowd loved it.
The hour was getting late at this point, and everyone could tell the night was coming to a close. When JID announced “we’re going to get a little crazy. Everyone take care of each other during this next one,” it was clear what was coming. “Stay safe. And ladies, if you don’t want to be a part of this, you might want to move back. Now let’s go.” At that moment, Dreamville’s moshpit anthem, “Stick” rang out.
While the deranged crowd pushed towards JID, who took solace at the edge of the stage, resembling a gargoyle looking down over the chaos, fans screamed as loud as they could, bouncing from one body to another like a human pinball. When the track finally came to a close, that was it. It was like a switch was turned off, and the night was suddenly over. But that didn’t stop fans from fighting over JID’s signed Air Force 1s, which he tossed into the crowd before walking off.
JID and Smino’s Luv Is 4Ever tour was a match made in heaven. From soulful blues-rap to aggressive trap bangers, everything just made sense. Thanks to a subtle live band and a great crowd, the night went off without a hitch. That’s exactly what a rap show is supposed to feel like.