The strange duality of post-crunk adrenaline meets saccharine melodies is what Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee have brought to hip-hop. It’s a bizarre yin and yang contrast that works in a similar capacity to Lil Jon's hits with Usher and Ludacris; Rae Sremmurd personifies the modern artistic middle between “Yeah!” and “Lovers And Friends.”
The duo's success as thoroughbred hitmakers dates back to 2014 when they took the world by storm with their debut single, “No Flex Zone.” It was an instant anthem, the first taste of what was possible when their sugar rush combustion is paired with the hypnotic knock of Mike WiLL Made-It, the super producer and label head who discovered the Tupelo, Mississippi brothers. The EarDrummers boss and his flagship duo have continued to be present in hip-hop’s ever-changing terrain by building upon their winning formula with reinvigorated flair.
SR3MM, the third addition to the SreemLife series, is sharing the spotlight with two solo albums: Slim Jxmmi’s Jxmtro and Swae Lee’s Swaecation. It’s the first time a rap duo has packaged the culmination of three separate projects as a singular release. While there’s an understandable excitement to see how the two fair as separate entities, the legacy of Rae Sremmurd rest on the impact of their third (combined) effort. For those who have advocated for Swae Lee to go solo, SR3MM could be the undeniable proof of why the two are better together than apart.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish. Let's get trippy mane.
1. "Up In My Cocina"
The first of three 1-Listen reviews. I need everyone to tell Z that I deserve a raise. Who is the voice that does the Eardrummers tag? Mike WiLL has the kind of trap drums the Boogeyman would moonwalk to. Swae Lee’s neighbors are complaining because he has too many guests. I can relate. A pretty basic verse, nothing too extravagant out the gate. The production does make his stream-of-conscious rambling easy on the ears. Jim! His energy instantly amplified the record. His charisma and personality are rather underrated. Kudos to Rae Sremmurd for bragging about their cocina, which is Spanish for kitchen. And there is the appeal of Sremm—they find a way to make the mundane drip with swag. How boring would “Up In My Kitchen” be as the song title?
2. "CLOSE" ft. Travis Scott
Travis! His cadence borrows from the “Go Legend” Big Sean record, I believe. I could be wrong but it’s familiar. Nice little flow. For someone used to raging, Travis is keeping it rather mellow. He enters and exits faster than Speedy Gonzales running from pest control. I'm loving melodic Swae. His hook is so simple but he's in his element. I’m here for Travis adding texture to the backend. Swae Lee is the voice of heavenly swan. It’s elegant and graceful, especially compared to Jim’s rapid-fire punch. I wish this was a solo Swae record. This "so many drugs" refrain is pure cocaine; I’d keep it for the summer nights in Miami.
3. "Bedtime Stories" ft. The Weeknd
Some dramatic keys. This song title is hilarious if you imagine the kind of drug-induced bedtime stories The Weeknd will tell his kids. Abel's voice came on smoother than Michael Jackson moonwalking on water. The highlight of the album, so far. It’s slow, melodic, and infectious. The vocal tag team between Swae and Slim is the kind of teamwork The Avengers need to use if they ever hope of beating Thanos. Yeah, “Bedtime Stories” is the kind of post-Auto-Tune singing that should be included in the hymn book of trap gospel. Length is the song's only issue. This is way too long. My interest hasn’t waned, but my initial excitement was receiving your tax refund, and now it’s more like breaking your diet to eat a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Shout out, Drake.
4. "Perplexing Pegasus"
I’m in the minority here, but I’ve always enjoyed “Perplexing Pegasus.” It has this soft, but bombastic knock. Jim brought out the roller skates for the flow. And hearing Swae call his whip a caterpillar is a piece of imagery after my own heart. It’s an underrated bop, just like “Look Alive” before it. If I was in Sremm, I would’ve waited to put out a new album until the people gave “Look Alive” the “Black Beatles” energy. It's not the best song on the album, but it will remain on my "Balling on a Budget" playlist.
5. "Buckets" ft. Future
All the features have been pretty solid. Someone ring the banger alarm. These thumping keys are taking me to the moon. Slim sounds good. Energized. This is a pure adrenaline shot. Why didn't the Interscope marketing team release this as a single just to cross promote with the NBA playoffs? The Wizard! He’s floating. Moreland Ave shoutout, Atlanta knows. I like that Future went full rapper here. He didn’t try to mix his usual melodic tactics into the verse. It was a good offering. Swae Lee, the Kobe Bryant of Rae Sremmurd, is going for 81. Basketball references galore. Cliche but expected. Future’s back! He really has one of the best voices in rap for rambling bridges. Mike WiLL killed this beat. Super solid track.
Disgusting! The bassline is offensive. I like how the beat can sound like it just escaped hell, and Swae Lee is as gleeful as an angel having their toes tickled. I really like this. It’s a bit different from the rest of the album. Very Valee-esque. This beat sounds like something that didn’t make GOOD job, You Found Me. Stank face production paired with unbothered bravado. “Might buy that watch with my back end,” brag Jimmy brag. Ha. This one only really needed one verse apiece. I hope Valee blows up and everyone in the trap spectrum realizes that less is more.
7. "Powerglide" ft. Juicy J
I heard this one for the first time while writing our new article about Memphis hip-hop and was pleasantly surprised. I love how they sampled Three 6 Mafia’s “Side 2 Side” and how Swae borrowed the delivery for his hook. The bounce, the groove, and his flow are a match made in Post-crunk Nirvana. Fire alarms should be triggered when this one comes on. Sremm really are the PG version of what you get if Kriss Kross was from Memphis and joined Three 6 Mafia during the Most Known Unknown era. Jim IS LEVITATING. I appreciate the Keisha Bottoms shoutout. This song is irresistibly fun. You can tell someone is dead inside if this beat doesn't inspire them to bounce. Juicy J is nearing the third decade of his career and aging better than most rappers. It makes sense he would sound good in this era, he’s been making trap-crunk for almost 30 years.
8. "Rock N Roll Hall of Fame"
Okay! This is interesting. I’m loving the electric guitar riffs. I’m certain this is a sample but I’m not sure from where. It’s honestly giving me “Devil In A Red Dress” vibes. Is that Swae doing harmonies? The drums are stomping harder than a pair of Timberlands crushing roaches. I’m praying this is the vibe on Swaecation. The rock-inspired trap palette is surprisingly pleasant. When these two nail it, they really nail it. TM88 killed the beat. He needs to completely tap into the pulse of “XO TOUR Llif3” rock trap. If these kids want to be rock stars the least you can do is throw some guitar on the backend for them to mumble on. My ears thank you.
9. "T'd Up"
Metro tag! Nice swing. These chords on the backend really are something out of a horror film. Very ghostly. Jim just compared himself to Frankenstein so we’re obviously on the same wavelength. I can see this being used in a commercial for Six Flags’ Fright Fest. A really good verse from Jim. The battery was in his back. The hi-hats sound like they’re on fire. This beat is everything. Yeah, if they don’t push this one in October, I’m going to wonder what the hell is going on.
SR3MM (first listen) closing thoughts:
Well, that was fun.
Rae Sremmurd, as a duo, is a singles artist. Fans anticipate the records that will wreck radio more than a complete body of work. By rolling with only nine tracks, SR3MM is an album filled with only bangers and potential hits. These are songs that will erupt during every show on Childish Gambino's upcoming tour.
SR3MM doesn’t have the added fat that weighed down SremmLife 2 and shows a substantial amount of growth compared to their debut offering. Both Jxmmi and Swae are comfortable in their respective styles, and their ear for production is slowly reaching Rick Ross and Nipsey Hussle levels.
I don’t go into a Sremm album looking to be wowed by lyricism, but to inspect how they continue to expand on their respected strengths and the progression of Mike WiLL’s production. Off this first listen, SR3MM isn’t a perfect front to back party, but there are few missteps keeping this album from being 38 minutes of flame emojis.
Early Favorites: "Close," "Powerglide," "Bedtime Stories"
Early Not-So-Favorites: "Up In My Cocina"
By Yoh, aka SreemYoh, aka @Yoh31