Smino is sitting in an AirBnB in New York City, answering questions while getting a haircut, as other crew members recline on a couch. The room has a relaxed vibe, but it’s been a hectic few months for the rapper/singer. He’s been performing around the country, despite injuring his leg on the tour’s second date in Pontiac, Michigan and taking stage on crutches ever since. Two days before our interview, he performed a sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan.
Smino was born and raised in St. Louis “with four big sisters, mom and dad in the crib, and a big ass Rottweiler.” Both parents were musically active in church, and work as professional musicians now, exposing the young artist to gospel, funk and jazz. "I just always felt like music was music," he says of bridging the gap between his parents' music and his own. "I like to call gospel 'honest s--t.' That’s gospel too."
Smino began writing and producing as a kid, and got into his recording groove when he moved to Chicago in 2010 to attend Columbia College. He dropped out in his freshman year, and traveled back and forth to St. Louis before finally settling in the Windy City in 2014. Between those two stints in Chicago, he met his team: his then-future manager Chris Classick who gave him unlimited access to record at his studio, producer Monte Booker, and the rest of his Zero Fatigue crew. "This dude cutting my hair right now is an engineer," he remarks, referring to his barber/collaborator L10MixedIt, who worked on a few songs for Chance the Rapper's smash LP Coloring Book. "Years later, he’s got a Grammy and s--t."