By Connor Bevan
“I’m rich. I’m young. I splurge. For fun.”
Emerging from obscurity to claim the spotlight, Mississippi-based rap duo Rae Sremmurd, much like fellow breakout stars Young Thug and Bobby Shmurda, signify hip-hop’s move away from wit and originality and towards conventionality and overproduction. Brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy first exploded onto Billboard’s Top 100 over the summer, with hit singles “No Flex Zone” and “No Type.”
I’ve been following the two since “No Flex Zone” first blew up. What’s struck me is that there is something really odd about these two. No, it’s not their nonsensical name (Ear Drummers, their record label’s name, spelled backwards), nor is it their irritable, prepubescent voices. The first time I listened to them, I couldn’t help but scoff and snicker at their glaring lack of talent. They’re comically bad; yet, it’s their unoriginality and obvious stupidity that drew me in.
Each song on their newest album “SremmLife” is somewhat identical. Great production, simple and reworded lyrics, a catchy beat. The songs are designed to get stuck in your head, and after the fourth or fifth time you listen to the song, you begin to enjoy Rae Sremmurd for what it is: kids simply having fun.
“Lit Like Bic”
The album opens with the sound of a lighter flicking and an unintelligible rambling from Slim Jimmy. Perfectly setting a tone in terms of subject matter, Swae Lee’s voice actually sounds halfway respectable. Throw in Jimmy’s weirdly furious verse, and “Lit Like Bic” ends up being one of the better tracks on the album.
“Unlock the Swag”
SremmLife’s second song is practically insufferable. The comedic effect wears off on the first “Unlock the swag/the swag unlock,” a refrain Slim Jimmy repeats for quite nearly the entire duration of the song. For three and a half minutes the two teens are practically screaming over a compilation of Star Wars special effects.
“No Flex Zone”
An undisputed classic. Rapping exclusively about women, partying and money, Swae and Slim are at their finest in this simplistic track. The exceptional production by super-producer Mike Will and the stuck-in-your-head effect has implanted the phrase “no flex zone,” whatever that means, into millennial vocabulary.
Banger. “My X” is easily the album’s best non-single track. Swae takes over, and his lyric “Don’t call me asking if we can start over/She interrupted my counting my money, I had to start over,” is probably the wittiest line SremmLife has to offer. His wailing voice fits well between an overbearing bass and a synth reminiscent of G-funk. The #NaeNae chant makes this song perfect to blast in your older brother’s souped-up Corolla.
“This Could Be Us”
Despite the uncharacteristically slow beat, “This Could Be Us” is decent. Slim Jimmy doesn’t get a word in as Swae Lee lets his vocals loose for a rollercoaster ride. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
“Come Get Her”
Another slower jam. The light beat and Swae’s vocals give “Come Get Her” a party vibe – even more so than the rest of SremmLife. Slim Jimmy’s verse is supposedly about clubbing, something the brothers have done, per Complex, “every night or every other night…since we were 15 years old.”
“Up Like Trump”
Sremmurd’s final single sees Swae Lee flex his lyrical prowess. “Wear my hat to the front/Like I drive a truck/All white Bentley truck,” “Rock like Billy Ray/That’s a idol,” and “Forbes list Forbes list Forbes list Forbes/Read it like The Bible” remain some of the “hottest bars” in history. Jimmy likely had laryngitis when the song was recorded.
“Throw Sum Mo”
Nicki Minaj makes an appearance to sing an undemanding and underwhelming hook. Young Thug’s verse reminds listeners that there are, in fact, worse rappers than Slim and Swae. The verses by the duo are surprisingly the only redeeming aspects of the song.
The instrumental is a mixture of constant static and bass, and the vocals aren’t catchy enough to justify the backdrop. The beat is more suited to Big Sean’s flow than Sremmurd’s, as his short verse is the highlight of the track.
If “No Flex Zone” is Ruth, “No Type” is Gehrig. It’s not as hyped as the rest of the album, but the quiet and minimalist lets Swae and Slim loose on the mic. The rhyming is simple, occasionally nonsensical, the song is about essentially nothing and Swae’s rendition of “I don’t got no type” is pure fire.