Christopher Smith Jr was born on October 2, 1991, but is better known by his stage name, Smino. He is an American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer who also founded the musical collective Zero Fatigue. He collaborated with Bari, Monte Booker, Jay2, and Ravyn Lenae to found the collective.
Currently, he is signed to independent label Downtown Records. Smino initially gained local recognition in 2012 when he released a mixtape called Smeezy Dot Com, and later on, a collaboration mixtape with Bari called Retail. In 2015, he released two EPs: S!Ck S!Ck S!Ck and blkjuptr, wherein the latter he speaks out on how he is coping with the predicament of being an Afro-American. Also, on March 14, 2017, his debut studio album, blkswn was released to critical acclaim. A year and a half later, Smino released his second studio album, NØIR on November 8, 2018.
Smino was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and is always proud to declare this. He was born into a musical family being the youngest with four elder sisters. His father plays keys, his mother sings while his grandfather played bass guitar for Blues Hall of Fame musician Muddy Waters. Both his father and grandfather were given opportunities to take their music far, but they gave up their success to be with their families.
When he was seven, his father gave him a set of drums, which he played in his church’s band. Smino discovered rapping on his own and his family never really stopped him from doing what he loved as they know that he is determined about his passion. In an interview with Vogue, Smino said “I grew up in a house that went to church every Sunday. It was a bunch of music just always playing. Every time that I did something that showed I was remotely interested in music, all of those people pushed me to do it.” He later moved to Chicago, Illinois for college under the wing of his older cousin, singer Drea Smith.
Smino often describes his music as futuristic funk and soulful rap. As he grew up listening to a lot of jazz, gospel, and hip hop, with rappers including Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Nelly, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and Field Mob, he is also heavily influenced by these artists.
Among all the artists that he listens to, Smino names Kanye West and André 3000 as his biggest musical influences, as well as his cousin, Drea Smith. In an interview with Pitchfork, he stated, "I grew up in the church, so it was a bunch of gospel along with Musiq Soulchild, Em, T-Pain—just a bunch of soulful dudes that our country. My first favorite rapper was Ludacris.”
2012-16: Various projects and Zero Fatigue
In 2012, Smino went by the stage name C. Smi and was in a rap duo with his friend, Bari Allen called "Young Dumb and Outta Control" (YDOC), when they released a mixtape titled Retail. Despite gaining popularity locally, they had a hard time getting their music out into the world.
Smino then released his first solo mixtape, Smeezy Dot Com, and moved back to Chicago. At Columbia College Chicago, he met engineer Chris "Classick" Inumerable, who became his closest friend and is now his manager.
Smino is a founder and a member of a musical collective called Zero Fatigue with producer Monte Booker, and artists Jay2, Bari, and Ravyn Lenae. Smino released his first EP, “S!Ck S!Ck S!Ck” on October 2, 2015. On December 11, he released his second EP titled “Blkjuptr”. On July 31, 2016, Smino appeared on Noname's mixtape, “Telefone”, on the track "Shadow Man".
Later, on August 17, it was announced that Smino will be alongside Mick Jenkins on the A Quest For Love Tour. On October 27, he made another guest appearance on Bucket List Project on the song "World in My Hands".
On December 2, 2016, Smino released the title track to serve as the first single from his debut album, blkswn. The album itself was only released on March 14, 2017. The release date (3/14) holds a special significance to the St. Louis rapper because 314 is the area code of his hometown. The album includes guest appearances from Ravyn Lenae, Bari, Noname, theMIND, Jay2, Via Rosa, Drea Smith, and Akenya. Where else, the album was made with production coming from Monte Booker, THEMpeople, Sango, Phoelix, and J. Bird.
Following the album's release, Smino headlined in his month-long Swanita Tour. His tour included acts from guests Monte Booker, Jay2, Bari, and Jean Deaux. It was announced that Smino and Ravyn Lenae will be opening for SZA on The CTRL Tour on July 6. He later released music videos for "Anita", "Netflix & Dusse", and "Wild Irish Roses". In October, he was also the opening act for T-Pain on his Acoustic Tour, who appeared on the remix for "Anita".
In April 2018, Smino and Monte Booker co-headlined the Kouple Drillz Tour. On May 17, he released a single called "New Coupe, Who Dis?" featuring Mick Jenkins. He also appeared on some of his frequent collaborative producers' tracks. These tracks include Cam O'Bi on "TenderHeaded", Phoelix on "Taranphoeno", and Sango on "Khlorine". Smino then released a remix to Drake's "In My Feelings", and a track called "Coupe Se' Yern" produced by himself on July 9.
On October 26, 2018, Smino released a single titled "L.M.F." produced by Sango along with a music video. Smino released the album's second single titled "Klink" on November 4 by announcing it via an Instagram post.
His second album, NØIR, was released on November 8. The album includes guest appearances from Zero Fatigue members, Bari, Jay2, and Ravyn Lenae, as well as Dreezy, and Valee. The production came from himself, Monte Booker, THEMpeople, Sango, Phoelix, KRS, Al B Smoov, and Da-P.
In 2019, Smino announced the Hoopti Tour, which included 33 shows in England, the United States, and Canada. The supporting acts for the tour will be EarthGang and Phoelix. So grab your tickets now to watch Smino and gang perform live near you!