The first time you hear Rae Sremmurd’s breakout hit, “No Flex Zone,” you’re instantly pulled in by the group’s exuberant, youthful energy and can’t help but sing and party along to the track.
Rae Sremmurd is comprised of rappers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Le, who are signed to Atlanta producer Mike WiLL Made-It, and more often than not found overtop of his production.
Their debut album, Sremmlife, had five singles go platinum. However, there were some who scoffed at their music, seeing it as nothing more than ‘party rap’ in the same vein as something like the Ying Yang Twins. With their follow-up album Sremmlife 2, the duo is back with another Mike WiLL executive-produced record full of bangers that are ready to silence the haters.
While the subject matter hasn’t changed much from the first project to this one, the matter in which their get messed up messages are delivered shows significant growth.
While Swae and Jxmmi’s familiar yelps and squeals are all over this record, there is a lot of new ground covered here. There is the sing-along club ballad “Look Alive,” which features a Swae Lee-sung hook that dabbles in a reaching, pop falsetto.
There’s anti-banger-banger “By Chance,” which finds the duo adopting a much more laid back delivery to a hook and some verses that you can tell from the first listen are going to be screamed back to them – and by them – during any live performance.
“Black Beatles” features another ballad-style hook that is reminiscent of the accidental-seeming earworms notable of Atlanta rapper-cum-crooner ILoveMakonnen, and while being a huge sonic departure from anything the group has previously done, is no less quotable than any of their past work.
This record has a much darker feel than the last, as if Jxmmi and Swae have moved from daytime beach parties to a world of endless after-after-hours debauchery. The darker, atmospheric beats of tracks like “Do Yoga” and the aforementioned “Black Beatles” find Mike WiLL flexing a much more ‘trap’ influenced version of the pop-trap beats he’s become known for.
That isn’t to say that the sun’s rays are entirely absent from this project. The DJ Mustard-helmed “Set The Roof” – complete with surprising Lil Jon feature – is a hyphy slapper where both rappers effortlessly ride the old-new-cali sound that Mustard is known for.
The rest of the album’s features work just as well, with the personal standout being the finesse kid, Kodak Black’s appearance on “Real Chill,” which finds him “still on them pills still” despite being given “a chill pill” a couple of bars earlier.
The fact that there are so many tracks on here that depart from straightforward turnup music show that Swae and Jxmmi are more interested in making the music they want to than chasing number one hits, and Sremmlife 2 is better for it.