It was A3C 2014, when I first met DJBooth team members Lucas, Taylor and Erikson. At the time, everyone was working for DJBooth, and they were in Atlanta for the hip-hop music festival. The night before their flight home a trip to the infamous Magic City was taken and, while I unfortunately wasn’t along to witness the enchanting dancers, I remember meeting the squad again later that evening and learning about how Lucas was completely enamored by the Rae Sremmurd songs he heard while in the club.
It could’ve been “No Type” or “No Flex Zone,” possibly both, but whatever preconceived notions he had about Rae Sremmurd seemed to changed. Lucas witnessed the bass-heavy party music of Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi while butts bounced, money fell, and liquor was poured. He experienced a taste of the SremmLife, and he liked it.
Experience and atmosphere - both are factors that can determine how music impacts us. There are artists for somber days and adventurous nights, songs for falling in love and songs for getting over past lovers, there’s music for every feeling and mood. Everything about Rae Sremmurd screams party and yells turn-up, both in the literal and figurative sense. The two Mississippi brothers are the suppliers of music that is meant to encourage having the time of your life. And they’ve been the life of hip-hop’s party since the release of “No Flex Zone” in May of 2014. When you hear them in the club, on the radio, or in your home the feeling is a mixture of Lil Jon’s crunk meets Kid-and-Play’s saucy House Party.
Rae Sremmurd and Mike WiLL Made-It’s combination on SremmLife soundtracked many parties and events throughout 2014 and ‘15. When on tour, Rae Sremmurd have built this repetition for their energetic performances, matching the same charged up enthusiasm that can be heard on their songs. There’s no question Rae Sremmurd has hits, big records that can set rooftops ablaze, and they have a sound, one that is notable enough that they can claim as their own.
The first time I heard Travis Scott’s “Antidote,” from the melody to the lyrics, it was as if he channeled his inner-Swae Lee with a touch of La Flame. I wasn't the only one. Once the cats start to copy your style that’s when you know your sound is big, waves are being formed, and it’s time to create the next big splash. SremmLife set the bar for Rae Sremmurd, the album attracted praise, and it turned the brothers into rap stars. Once you start co-writing for Beyonce you are on the cusp of breaking into an entirely different universe. That’s why the pressure is on for SremmLife 2. Doing it once is good, but doing it twice makes it difficult to denounce their prowess to make hits.
I’m going into SremmLife 2 looking for songs that will dominate the parties this fall; records I’ll be sending Lucas to request the next time he’s in Magic City.
3 Standout Songs
I’m surprised that “Look Alive” was selected as SremmLife 2’s third single and not it’s first; the record feels like a hit. The way that Swae Lee sings, how the keys bounce, the jittering high hats, and the thick bassline - there’s a chemistry between all these elements that is simply hypnotic. Before Slim Jxmmi can confess to be a moonwalking smooth criminal like Michael Jackson you’re already under the song’s spell. The ambiance is how I imagine doing drugs at a rave must feel like - calm but chaotic, easygoing but explosive. “Look Alive” is an anthem, one that I’m surprised isn’t bigger on the radio, but I see it leading to big publishing checks in the future. This is the score that will play in the background of countless party scenes, mark my words.
“Shake It Fast”
This is the song that will cause the strip clubs to erupt. I imagine money raining down from the ceiling as Slim demands dancers to shake it fast. “Bandz a Make Her Dance” was the Mike WiLL produced strip club anthem that rejuvenated Juicy J’s career four long years ago. It’s fitting that Juicy J is featured on the record. Out of all the outrageous lyrics that Juicy J has rapped in his career, “She can suck a bowling ball through a straw” is easily in the top 5. “Shake It Fast” is the thunderous thumper that has the best chance of returning the Sremm brothers, Juicy J, and Mike WiLL to titty bars across the nation. Get your singles ready.
“Take It Or Leave It”
I expect Rae Sremmurd to make the big party records and there are plenty on the album - “Start A Party,” “Set the Roof,” “By Chance,” and “Real Chill” all fall in that category. Having those expectations is the main reason that I gravitated toward “Take It Or Leave It,” a song that I consider a surprise. Swae Lee isn’t going to wow you as a singer, he doesn’t have range, he isn’t hitting an array of notes, but it’s his tone; he sounds like a party animal turned party angel. His singing reminds me of So Far Gone era Drake - simplistic in execution but sonically effective. “Take It Or Leave It” showcase his strength of knowing what works. The song is less turnt, and far more sentimental than most of the album. Not exactly what you look for when going into a Sremmurd album, but I wouldn’t mind more. I’m here for the unexpected gems.
Rae Sremmurd’s sophomore album doesn’t leave the comforts of their fun-filled, party. If you’re looking for masters of wordplay, or concepts that will send you into the deep depths of your mind, this isn’t the album for you and Rae Sremmurd isn’t worth your time. But if you’re looking for some funny punchlines (Slim Jxmmi saying “A cool Herc on the Earth” made my 2016.) and an assortment of turn up records to play before, during, and after partying like a rockstar, this is your new soundtrack. SremmLife is a fun life and a year-after their debut the brothers still sound like they’re having the time of their lives.
Experience the SremmLife, you might just like it.
By Yoh, aka Yohsremmurd aka @Yoh31
Art Credit: Joshua Hayden