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Smino Honors St. Louis Roots, Debuts Collab With Nelly At 4th Annual ‘Kribmas’ Show

Hip-hop artist Smino took the stage Sunday night for his fourth annual Kribmas benefit concert in true St. Louis fashion — wearing a Cardinals baseball varsity jacket and jumping out of a sleigh shaped like a Nike Air Force 1 and painted by local artist Brock Seals

In front of a sold-out crowd at The Pageant on the Delmar Loop, Smino performed now-classic tracks from his discography, new songs and a surprise collaboration with Nelly. The event has become a tradition for his fans, who look forward to the homecoming shows each December. 

“Man, it’s been so long, I haven’t been here all year,” he said. Smino performed with Da Band Band and his producer Monte Booker after returning from a year of festivals, overseas shows and a sold-out North American tour. 

The St. Louis native, recording artist and founder of the Zerø Fatigue collective hosts the concert to raise money to give back to his community. Starting next year, Smino’s management said Kribmas will grow into a foundation that hosts events throughout the year.

This year, singer Schenay Mosley, who tours with Smino, and hip-hop artist Jay2 warmed up the crowd for the main event.

Fans swayed, swag surfed and danced throughout the night to Smino’s music, which fuses hip-hop with soul and rhythm and blues. He played songs including “Netflix & Dusse,” “Anita” and “Z4L” from his first and second studio albums, “blkswn” (2017) and “Noir” (2018).

But the highlight of the night came midway through the show. 

“I’m gonna do something special for St. Louis,” Smino said. “If you’re a real St. Louis motherf------, I know you know this s--- … Make some noise for motherf---ing Nelly.”

Seconds later, the crowd erupted as St. Louis legend Nelly walked onstage to perform a mashup of his hit singles “Air Force Ones” and “E.I.”

The moment signified a passing of the torch of sorts from one generation of St. Louis hip-hop to the next. Smino, who cites Nelly as an inspiration, often pays homage to the St. Louis rapper who put the city on the hip-hop map in the early 2000s. 

“I’m here for you,” Nelly said to Smino on stage. “Whatever you say, I’m doing whatever you tell me to do.” The two then performed part of a new unreleased track together. Smino teased the collaboration on Instagram last week, with a video of him and Nelly in a studio. 

Smino ended the night with an energetic performance of his 2018 hit “KLINK,” the crowd bouncing in unison as his friends and family, old and young, joined him onstage to celebrate another successful Kribmas.

St. Louis Public Radio's Carolina Hidalgo contributed to this review.

Follow Carolina on Twitter: @CarolinaHidalgo
Follow Lara on Twitter: @hamdanlf

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.