Rae Sremmurd kick off 2015 on a high note, with the release of their anticipated debut "SremmLife."
2014 may be remembered as one of the weakest years for rap in recent memory, but there were, however, some definite highlights, especially when it came to newcomers. Bobby Shmurda had one of last year’s biggest rap records, DeJ Loaf had one of last year’s most remixed rap records and Young Thug was one of last year’s most talked about rap artists (even if for all of the wrong reasons). And although much of the attention may have been placed on newbies like Shmurda, Loaf and Thug, one of the most promising and exciting new acts to hit the rap scene last year and a sure shot contender for 2014’s Rookie of the Year was the duo Rae Sremmurd. After dropping the top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit, "No Flex Zone", which put the Tupelo, Mississippi natives on the map, and the follow-up, ”No Type”, which peaked at number 17 on the aforementioned chart (and has since gone gold), the brothers release their highly anticipated debut album, SremmLife.
Being signed to a super-producer like Mike Will Made-It of course has its perks, especially when your debut is the first release from said super-producer’s newly formed Ear Drummer Records imprint. Aside from just having a well-seasoned mentor on your team, it means you have access to his best beats and his extensive Rolodex. SremmLife is proof of both. It's well-known that Mike Will's beats bang, but more often than not those Mike Will Made-It beats can be bland and very predictable. On SremmLife, the hit-maker seems to have fed off of the energy of his young signees, because his productions on here, which include "Lit Like A Bic", ”This Could Be Us”, “Come Get Her” and "YNO" are refreshingly unique.
Though the majority of the album's production is handled by Mike Will (the album’s executive producer) himself, it also features outside production from the likes of Sonny Digital, Young Chop, Honorable C.N.O.T.E. and Soundz, who “produced” SremmLife's third single, "Throw Som Mo", which features a hook from Nicki Minaj and a verse from Young Thug.
Much of the music that appears on SremmLife is a welcomed departure from the sounds we're hearing from other rappers currently in Swae Lee (20) and Slim Jimmy (23) age bracket (Bobby Shmurda and Chief Keef may come to mind). Not every young rapper nowadays is an aspiring drug kingpin or frequent gun-toter, and the brothers fully embrace this truth. In lieu of the superthug raps that oversaturate the mixtapes, EPs and albums of many of their young counterparts, Swae and Slim instead present anthems for proving naysayers wrong like on the Big Sean-assisted "YNO", getting over your ex like on "My Ex" and enjoying life like on the not-so-subtly titled "Safe Sex Pay Checks."
Though highlighted by the carefree youthfulness of Slim and Swae, SremmLife is also flawed as a result of that same youthfulness. At times on the 11-track project, which was initially slated to be released as an EP, that “youthfulness” starts to border immaturity and results in songs like “Up Like Trump” and the poorly titled "Unlock the Swag."
In a recent interview with Life + Times, Mike Will spoke on what made him want to work to Rae Sremmurd. He mentioned a several things, including their skills on the mic. “They be snapping”, said the platinum producer. Listeners are given a glimpse of those snapping abilities on singles, “No Flex Zone” and “No Type”, but the caliber of slick punchlines and metaphors that are found on SremmLife’s first two offerings are seldom seen elsewhere on the album. It’s rare in this current era of rap music, where lyrics have taken a backseat to swag, melodies and hypnotic beats, to hear young rappers (especially those from the South) placing emphasis on their bars, so it’s a real let down that Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to prove and show with their debut that this next generation of Southern rap stars can actually spit.
While there isn't anything particularly spectacular aboutSremmLife, the album does offer listeners more than a few good reasons to look forward to what Rae Sremmurd has in store for the future. If the goal with this album was to soundtrack the turn up of young and in-the-moment bachelors, then mission accomplished.The best songs onSremmLife are full of energy and swag, thumping productions and come complete with hooks that are sure to be stuck in your head for the next few months.