Amidst the high energy of Friday night’s Art Attack,  headliner Smino took a brief pause from his setlist to speak to the audience.

In one of his frequent direct addresses to the audience, he shared an optimistic message. The artist encouraged them to be good people before resuming the second half of his performance. 

The rapper and singer was announced as the event’s headliner in an April 12 Instagram post from Student Entertainment Events, prompting immediate excitement from the University of Maryland community. Smino brought distinct energy and infectious positivity to his headlining set defined by neo-soul rap verses complemented by smooth, R&B-infused beats.

Smino wove different moods into his performance at Ritchie Coliseum. He displayed vocal prowess as he ranged between rap-focused numbers and R&B-infused tracks. 

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The artist burst onto the scene with the release of his 2017 album blkswn, garnering attention for his fusion of influences and laid-back performance style. 

He followed the release with the album NØIR, and then his third studio album, Luv 4 Rent, which included an array of impressive collaborations from fellow rappers J. Cole and Lil Uzi Vert, to jazz multi-instrumentalist Cory Henry. Smino is best known for hits like “Wild Irish Roses” and “90 Proof.”

Maryland-based music collective 242 opened the performance, combining a litany of influences into their set. 

After an interlude of remixes by Smino’s DJs, the artist presented himself in his typical laid-back fashion, wearing an oversized T-shirt and shorts paired with dark sunglasses. Despite his casual presentation, he immediately brought the audience to life and walked out to raucous applause after being introduced, setting the tone for a night full of energetic positivity. 

He engaged the audience with “Z4L” on the front end of the setlist — a smooth track that showcased his rapping and singing talent.

Another highlight of his performance was “90 Proof,” a crowd-pleasing hit that intertwined a catchy hook with introspective and honest lyrics. “Not too great at relationships, at least I try,” he sang, crescendoing into a high pitch backed by harmonies. 

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Near the end of his set, he played his streaming hit “Wild Irish Roses,” a song that showcases a range of vocal pitches over a slow drumbeat and futuristic keyboard patch. He closed the show with “No L’s,” a track featuring intricate verse and vocal modulation. 

Smino succeeded in providing a high-energy performance, frequently engaging the audience with jokes that heightened the energy in the room. Despite the laid-back mood prevalent in many of his songs, he kept the audience dancing and singing along for nearly the entirety of the show.

Throughout the setlist, Smino executed a powerful live performance. His set demonstrated how electric music can become regardless of genre, style or artist. The performer wore his heart on his sleeve as the audience danced along to his message of optimism.