2014 was Rae Sremmurd’s year. In the summer, Rae Sremmurd (rappers Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy) released their first single ‘No Flex Zone’ through EarDrummers Entertainment (producer Mike WiLL Made-It’s Interscope Records imprint), making the track one of the summer’s anthems and an instant favorite on the internet. To kick-off the fall, the Mississippi rappers proved their doubters wrong by the release of their equally successful track ‘No Type’, making the duo two-for-two on making rap hits and quieting any one-hit-wonder predictions. Months later, and in just one week on January 6th, Rae Sremmurd is releasing their debut album SremmLife (available now for streaming), when rap fans did not know their name less than a year ago.
The strength of SremmLife is Rae Sremmurd’s ability to make catchy and popular hooks, which when complemented by Mike WiLL Made It’s production, can make the songs survive past their average and one-dimensional lyrics and content. Such songs include ‘Throw Sum Mo’, ‘Safe Sex Pay Checks’ and of course the very successful singles ‘No Flex Zone’ and ‘No Type’. While Mike WiLL Made-It’s production is on every track of the album (complemented by Young Chop, Sonny Digital and more), the entire project is surprisingly diverse in its beats from ‘Lit Like Bit’ to ‘Up Like Trump’. SremmLife is yet another win for Mike WiLL Made-It as he continues to prove he is one of rap’s hottest producers. As long as Rae Sremmurd doesn’t run out of hooks and is promoted by Mike WiLL Made-It and his EarDrummers Entertainment label, they can definitely have a permanent seat at the rap table.
While the album’s highlights come through its catchy hooks and production, this is not to say the lyrics are week. Like so many rappers, Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy can give great lines at moments, however the duo is no Kendrick Lamar, no Drake, and no J. Cole. In fact, the album’s best verse does not even come from Swae or Slim, as G.O.O.D Music‘s Big Sean provides the best bars on ‘Yno’, in what is a pretty average verse for Sean (who is no stranger to stealing a song or album with a guest verse). Also Rae Sremmurd’s lyrics and the content of their 11-tracks on the album do not tell us their story, which is disappointed for a debut album. We get a number of catchy bangers in their debut, but are left knowing as little about Rae Sremmurd as we did months ago. While the rappers used to be homeless and surely have their own story to tell, instead SremmLife is unusually impersonal. We learned more about Jay-Z in his 12th studio album Magna Carta Holy Grail than we did from Rae Sremmurd in their debut.
After a few listens, you can tell that Rae Sremmurd is not a one-hit-wonder in the rap game, but they will likely live through their singles and not their albums. While the tracks on SremmLife have a similar sound, it is due to the one-dimensional aspects of Rae Sremmurd’s music and not because SremmLife is a cohesive and complete project. There are a number of songs that could rise in the charts, especially the album’s features with Big Sean, Nicki Minaj and Young Thug, however SremmLife is a collection of singles more than a rap group’s debut project. What Rae Sremmurd’s music lacks in personal content, it survives through its enjoyable hooks and exceptional Mike WiLL Made-It production.