Times have drastically changed in hip-hop since Andre 3000’s declaration at the 1995 Source Awards that “the South has something to say.” Mainstream hip-hop now welcomes the southern twang, celebrates trap and crunk sounds and looks toward Atlanta and beyond for new trends. 2014 was another huge year for southern hip-hop and certainly one of the rising stars were Tupelo, Mississippi natives Rae Sremmurd. Signed to super producer Mike-Will-Made-It’s label imprint Ear Drummers, from which the duo derived their name, Rae Sremmurd’s debut marks the label’s first release. Brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi bring versatility to turn up on SremmLife and begin 2015 with the creation of an eleven-track party. Hit maker and mentor Mike-Will handles most of the production on the album and the combination of a seasoned sound maker and the newcomers’ energy, make Rae Sremmurd’s debut an undeniable score.
Critics have mentioned concern surrounding longevity of the young emcees mostly confined to club bangers and radio hits. However, SremmLife offers a plethora of sounds under the club smash umbrella. Mike-Will-Made-It produced “This Could Be Us” presents a less energetic vibe with the same cleverly simple lyricism. The piano heavy beat accompanies the boyish voices of Rae Sremmurd and would definitely soundtrack a chill kickback where the cups overflow with Hennessey and the blunts stay a lit. “Come Get Her” immediately follows and engages the usual stand-on-the-couch-in-the-club-like banger that the duo have coined as their infectious sound. This record is already circulating radio and will undoubtedly be the brothers next club smash.
Even though SremmLife feels fresh as one of the first rap releases of 2015, it lacks substance and at times reflects some serious immaturity. “Unlock The Swag” and “Up Like Trump” are basic to the point of silliness and don’t posses the normal creativity the duo typically brings. Aside from the poor titles and hooks, neither song arouses anything but naiveté.
Nicki Minaj and Young Thug join in for “Throw Sum Mo” and although released prior, it feels like it could be the next single to chart. Though no song on the album can compare to the electrifying hit that is “No Type.” The auto-tuned sounding hook remains the catchiest and one of the best records of 2014. However, just when you can’t imagine why the No. 17 charted single doesn’t close the project, “Safe Sex and Pay Checks” reflects the perfect last call. The anthem-like record is impressive and although rare in mainstream hip-hop, celebrates and promotes an important safety issue while maintaining the duo’s energetic spirit.
SremmLife answers the question many of the blogs originally proposed. Rae Sremmurd are not one hit wonders, but rather here for the long haul. With a super producer on their side, experienced rappers like Nicki Minaj, Big Sean and Pusha T open to features and remixes, Slim and Swae have an extensive future ahead of them. Despite their need to explore and grow lyrically, the brothers are still actively expanding the turn up soundscape. SremmLife is one wild ride fit for all of the weekend’s festivities.