When Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone” blew up last year, scores of people dismissed it as a novelty. “They won’t be here next year. They’re one hit wonders, just like so many other come-and-go artists in hip-hop. They’re just the new Kriss Kross. “ Those people were wrong.
SremmLife, the debut album by Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy, is 11 songs long, and every single song could be a hit single. The two Tupelo, Mississippi natives are 19 and 21, respectively, but they sound like they’re teenyboppers, and that’s precisely why their stuff is so infectious. It’s jump around music. When Mike Will Made It, who signed them to his Ear Drummers label on Interscope and produced seven out of the album’s 11 songs, saw them recording early on, they were “jumping up and down…and their heads almost hit the fan.” That’s exactly what SremmLife sounds like.
“Lit Like Bic” opens the album and employs melody throughout the verses. The style conjures up work by Migos, with their sing-song voices and terse hooks, but while Migos is yet to come up with another hit since “Handsome and Wealthy,” Rae Sremmurd’s cascade of smash singles has improved with each new one (though “No Type” edges out “Throw Sum Mo”). “Lit Like Bic”’s chorus goes, “Lit lit lit! Lit like Bic!” This isn’t music to reflect on. It’s shallow, fun, energetic, and completely worry free.
But besides providing the music for all high school parties, SremmLife functions in another fashion – as the resurrection of Mike Will Made It. While he dominated 2013, DJ Mustard swept Will under the rug this past year. Mike became somewhat comfortable with his sound, leading to the disappointing Ransom tape at the tail end of 2014. Rae Sremmurd seems to have animated him and reenergized his diverse abilities. Electric guitar squeals under “Lit Like Bic,” “Unlock The Swag” is a punchy, minimal beat (Kendrick seems to fuck with it), “This Could Be Us” could hit pop radio thanks to those keys…shit, every single beat Mike did on here is fire, as are the beats by Sonny Digital, Soundz, and Honorable C.N.O.T.E. & P Rich. The driving force behind the group is production and hooks, so Mike Will deserves as much credit for Rae Sremmurd’s success as Swae and Slim do.
SremmLife is limited in scope, but it dominates within its field. Swae Lee is a bit more engaging and zany than his cohort Slim Jimmy, but they complement each other well, and like Migos, you can’t always tell the difference anyway. Mike Will was right – these kids are stars. SremmLife proves it.