rae-sremmurd-sremm-life-coverRae Sremmurd – SremmLife
2015; Ear Drummers/Interscope.
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From March of 2014 until December, the world had a pretty hard time trying to pronounce Rae Sremmurd. They did not however, have a hard time trying to nod their heads to the Tueplo, Missisippi duo’s massive two singles, the anti-floss and twinkling bass monster “No Flex Zone” and the low-fi, dream-like “No Type”. A debut album like SremmLife was going to be asked to live up to the two massive singles. Instead, it’s buoyed by infectious energy and the songs that are shaped and strategically placed around “No Flex Zone” and “No Type” respectively.

It’s true, Swae Lee (Khalif Brown) & Slim Jimmy (Aaquil Brown) aren’t going to be considered massive wordsmiths or two artists who are ably trying to showcase an ability to flat out rap like say, Waka Flocka Flame at the moment. At 19 and 21 respectively, the brothers are glued into creating a ruckus and enjoying the spoils of said riches. The two men spent their time throwing parties in an abandoned house before Mike WiLL Made-It found them and helped curate their sound. SremmLife barks, jumps and punches its way through a night of fun, slight reminiscing and not caring. Their styles are dissimilar, Swae Lee opting for more thin-voiced raps and yelps and Slim Jimmy gruffer and punchy. Yet when combined together they operate like “Double Dragon”, Lee’s giddy tracing of “trill-ass ind-iv-du-al” on “No Flex Zone” being one of his fonder moments.

SremmLife employs production from plenty of producers, Mike WiLL Made-It, Young Chop, Sonny Digital & Honorable C.N.O.T.E who all serve to help steer the ship. Chop employs his signature piano haunts and drum cadence for “My X,” a shout rap track that has enjoyed plenty of airspace on current radio. The “huaaaah” that the We Are Toonz brought back into focus with “Nae Nae” is found here yet it’s more of a flippant instrument than one of fun. The swing of emotion from “My X” to “This Could Be Us” is evident. Light piano stabs, snare inflections and drum banter offer for the album’s best moment depth wise. “Learned from Project Pat, pimpin’, got a masters/Girl, improvise, look me in my eyes and lie to me/Lie to me, act like I’ll believe anything,” Slim Jimmy emotes on the track solo wise, glossy eyed about a old flame and new one all the same. It offers something different from the Brown brothers, one where they can play off each other musically. Swae Lee’s hook and bridge offer a stark contrast from the rest of the album, a warm detour from SremmLife built up anarchy.

Mike Will Made-It offered this as the first album from his Ear Drummers imprint as almost a near companion to the last album he had plenty of say in, Miley Cyrus 2013 Bangerz album. That effort was built on catchy pop moments, this built on catchiness and dumbed out moments. “Up Like Trump” offers very little while “Throw Some Mo” with Nicki Minaj offering a come hither chorus and Young Thug in his own autotuned, druggy world. The brassy “YNO” flip with Big Sean is almost standard but given how the Sremm boys jumped from nothing to something, you understand why it’s the longest cut on SremmLife. “I showed them bitches, better than I could have ever told them bitches!” Swae Lee crows. “Motherfuckers never shared my vision!”

Two singles a career does not make. However, Rae Sremmurd possess the kind of infectious energy that will keep them around. They’re going to make their money in droves, evident by SremmLife moving over 60,000 copies in its first week on the shelves. Some brothers ultimately get what make them what they are. The brothers Brown know that Sremm is a way of life now — and it’s a hell of a lot better than their previous one.

Album Review: Rae Sremmurd, 'SremmLife' [@raesremmurd]
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