Whether you want to admit it or not, Rae Sremmurd has been one of the more iconic Hip Hop artists to emerge in the last decade. If you are a fan of Trap music or just a fan of modern music in general, there is no way that you have not heard multiple songs by this group. They have made quite a few of the most fun Trap songs from the last several years; if you are a Millennial or in Gen Z and like to go out or party at all, I am positive you have been at more than one function where a Rae Sremmurd song got the whole place rocking. Rae Sremmurd is made up of two brothers who go by Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee. They first popped onto the scene when their song ‘No Flex Zone’ went viral in the summer of 2014. Shortly following this, they released the song ‘No Type,’ which was even more popular than their first single. These two tracks gave them a ton of momentum, and it led them to release their debut album SremmLife at the beginning of 2015. SremmLife received critical acclaim, and it put Rae Sremmurd on the map. The group followed this record up with SremmLife 2 in 2016. SremmLife 2 also received high praise, and it cemented Rae Sremmurd as one of the most exciting young Trap artists in the game at the time. Rae Sremmurd’s third release, SR3MM, came out in 2018. This record did not receive the same amount of love as their first two records. It felt like the album lacked direction, and although it did have a few very popular tracks, it was more of a mixed as a whole. After a five-year break where the duo focused more on solo work, Rae Sremmurd has now returned with their record Sremm 4 Life. Below is how I felt about Rae Sremmurd’s newest release. Please let me know in the comments what your favorite songs are from this album, and also comment on what you felt about Sremm 4 Life as a whole.

Rae Sremmurd starts out the record with ‘Origami(Hotties).’ Admittedly, this track is not the kind of song I expected them to start the record with. Considering Rae Sremmurd has been typically more known for high-octane and fun bangers, I expected the opening track of this record to be big and bold. Instead, this song has a slow and calm Trap sound. The song has a very retro Southern Trap feeling to it. The melody and pace of the beat make me think of artists like Big K.R.I.T. or Curren$y. Out of the two rap performances on the track, Slim Jxmmi stands out over Swae Lee. His deep and husky voice goes nicely with this melody, and his flow fits the song better.  ‘Origami(Hotties)’ is not a bad song, but it does not punch me in the gut the way I wanted the first song on this record to do. ‘Royal Flush,’ which features Young Thug, is a song that I can not decide if I love or hate. On one hand, I really enjoy the beat of this song. This beat is so hard-hitting; particularly, the bass in ‘Royal Flush’ kicks the listener in the chest. On the other hand, though, I am not that into the song’s melody. The melody on ‘Royal Flush’ is made up of weird horns that make me think of the army for some reason. This melody has war movie energy, and I do not find it pleasant to listen to. Honestly, this kind of stinks, because the rap performances on the song are great. Young Thug sounds excellent on this track, and both members of Rae Sremmurd show great chemistry with him and each other. Maybe I will come around to this song’s melody, but right now I just can not get into it. ‘Mississippi Slide’ is a song that reminds me of some of the music the group originally got big for. This song has a dark and grimy sound that reminds me a lot of the Trap music that was popular when the group popped up in the mid-2010s. The melody of this song is funky and nasty, and the beat is faster, which gives the song a lot of fun energy. Both Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi are in their bag on this track when it comes to their vocal performances. I particularly enjoy Swae Lee’s performance on ‘Mississippi Slide,’ as his higher pitch and easy-going flow go perfectly with this instrumental. ‘Mississippi Slide’ may not be a modern-sounding Trap song, but it does take advantage of what Rae Sremmurd has excelled at in the past. When I first heard the beginning of ‘Not So Bad(Lean So Cold),’  I had to double-take. There is no way I could have seen a song like this coming from this group(or from anyone to be honest). The chorus and melody are an interpolation of the song ‘Thank You’ from Dido(also known as the song that interpolated in Eminem’s smash hit ‘Stan’). This song is pretty much a Trap version of that track. One aspect of the melody that I enjoy that was added in is the bass guitar that comes in and out of the background of the track. That paired with the groovy tone of Synth added to the 808 drums. I have to say, both Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi kill it on this song vocally. They both show off their ranges and vocalists and prove how well they can adapt to instrumentals like this. ‘Not So Bad(Lean So Cold)’ is a song that exhibits a different side to Rae Sremmurd, which I appreciate and think is pretty cool. 

‘Tanisha(Pump That)’ is a song that completely drifts away from the Trap music theme the first four songs had. This is a fast-paced Synth-Pop song with a bit of a UK Garage House music sound. Unfortunately, the best thing about this song is that it’s instrumental. Neither Swae Lee nor Slim Jxmmi stand out too much. It is still a fun song that is perfect for a club setting though. ‘Bend Ya Knees’ is a track that feels like a wasted opportunity. The instrumental for this one is so fresh, but the rap performances don’t match its energy. ‘Bend Ya Knees’ has a tough and dirty melody; it has an ice cold feeling that is super interesting. I feel like both Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi could have leaned into this harsh feeling more. Swae Lee’s performance is way too mellow for this instrumental, and Slim Jxmmi’s wasn’t much better. I feel like ‘Bend Ya Knees’ could have been a major highlight for me based on the instrumental, but the vocals just don’t live up to it. ‘Activate’ which features Future, is the highlight of this record for me to this point. I love this slick R&B Trap instrumental song. The silky melody and intense drums pair really well, giving this song a late-night banger element. All three rap performances on this song are great as well. Swae Lee is an artist that excels at R&B melodies, and he shows that on ‘Activate.’ And as it does so often, Slim Jxmmi’s gruffer vocals provide a great contrast to his brother. Future is an artist that can make any song significantly better, and Future is the star of the show on this track. ‘Activate’ is an example of Rae Sremmurd doing what they know they do best.

‘Flaunt It/Cheap’ is another track that is a favorite of mine. This is a two-part track, with the first half being handled by Slim Jxmmi and the second half being handled by Swae Lee. ‘Flaunt It’ has an instrumental that jumps back and forth between 1990s Miami Hi-NRG Party Rap music and Chopped and Screwed Houston Trap music. I honestly think Slim Jxmmi excels at both of these kinds of music, so his rapping style works well on this instrumental. Slim Jxmmi gives ‘Flaunt It’ the harsh energy that it needs. ‘Cheap’ has a 90s Boom-Bap sort of instrumental. Swae Lee’s smooth and even-keeled Rap performance is great for this instrumental, giving the track such a fun feeling that makes me want to dance the night away. ‘Sexy’ keeps the 90s feeling that the last track had. Once again, the track has an instrumental that has a Miami Hi-NRG feeling to it. I am sad to say that this is another song where I feel like the rap performances do not live up to the instrumental. The vocals on this song from Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi just feel too calm and mellow for the energy of the beat. Honestly, I find this kind of weird, because they have had some eccentric and exciting vocal performances in the past(and even a few on this album) that prove that they have the ability to excel on a track like this. My favorite vocals on this track are the female vocals that come in at the end of the song. ‘Sexy’ feels like a missed opportunity at something great. Similar to ‘Mississippi Slide,’  ‘YMCA’ is a song that brings me back to some of Rae Sremmurd’s biggest hits. The song is driven by a dark and gloomy Synth-melody that is put over a hard yet pretty  typical Trap beat. It has the kind of sound that makes me think of songs like ‘Black Beatles’ or ‘Swang.’ Both Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi sound excellent on this track. They both show off the qualities in their vocals that make them stand out and demonstrate how great they can be when they are fully committed to the instrumental they are on. ‘YMCA’ is not very current sounding and it does not have qualities that make it stand out in a huge way, but it does show the quality that Rae Sremmurd has when they are in their element. ‘Something I’m Not’ is a song that is completely different from anything on the record that precedes it; in fact, it is way different from anything I have heard from these two together in the past.  This is an instance where they took a big risk and it worked out very well. This song has a sweet and calm R&B Trap sound that has an old-school West Coast feeling to it. There is something about this track that makes me think it is like a Trap version of songs like Tupac’s ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ or ‘Run Tha Streetz.’ Now, Swae Lee has dabbled in R&B music before, but not as a part of Rae Sremmurd. On ‘Something I’m Not,’ Both Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi show that they can excel on this kind of instrumental, and it brings out a side to them that we usually do not get to see. I wish that they had gone in this direction more often on this record because Rae Sremmurd exhibits a side to their artistry that we usually do not see on ‘Something I’m Not’ that I enjoy a lot. 

‘Torpedo’ was the first song that was released in anticipation of this record. To be honest, when this song came out, I was a little worried for what this album was going to be like. For an opening single of an album by a group that has not made new music in 5 years, I wanted this song to have more of an impact. ‘Torpedo’ is a pretty basic present-day Trap song that does not have much about it that stands out. The instrumental is basic and the rap performances are okay. ‘Torpedo’ sounds like it could be by any up and coming Hip Hop artist trying to make a typical Trap song. Nothing about this track says Rae Sremmurd, and when it was released it did not make excited to hear Sremm 4 Life. At 2:12, ‘Diamonds Dancing’ is by far the shortest song on the album. I wish that this was not the case, because this track is one of the most interesting and inventive sounding tracks on the project. ‘Diamonds Dancing’ has a crazy and Trippy beat and melody that is unlike anything else on the record. This song like a deep cut off of something like Future’s DS2 mixtape. It has an extremely psychedelic and atmospheric sound that is like the equivalent of someone drinking lean on the moon The sound of this song is insane in the best way, and both members of Rae Sremmurd excel on the song. Slim Jxmmi’s harsh and gritty tone sound so natural on this instrumental, and I enjoy how Swae Lee sings in a lower tone that matches the energy of it. The main thing I dislike about ‘Diamonds Dancing’ is that it is not longer. Rae Sremmurd closes out Sremm 4 Life with the song ‘ADHD ANTHEM(2 Many Emotions).’ It is apparent from this song that the group wanted to close out the record with a bang. I can not decide whether or not I love or hate this song. It is somehow grating and pleasant to listen to at the same time. It sounds like an extra bright and Poppy version of something off of Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red record. The melody is made up heavily distorted Synths that have a video game quality to them, and the beat provided by the 808 drums is heavily synthesized as well to match the melody. The song has a sweet melody, but it is so warped that it almost has an uncomfortable feeling. Something I love about the track in the vocal performances. Both Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi match the energy of the instrumental and delivery performances that match its craziness. ‘ADHD Anthem(2 Many Emotions) closes out Sremm 4 Life on a supercharged note. I would love to see Rae Sremmurd go this route more often in the future, because I think they can excel at music with this sound if they dive deeper into it.

As I mentioned when I wrote about the song ‘Torpedo,’ the singles that were released in anticipation of Sremm 4 Life did not get me very excited for the project. I say that as someone who has been a big fan of Rae Sremmurd and was pumped to hear new music from them. For a group that was always known for pushing boundaries and sticking out from the crowd, these singles seemed way to typical and ordinary. After listening to Sremm 4 Life as a whole, it seems like the group lacked direction and did not really know what they wanted to do with this record. There are instances where the group takes big risks on the record, but they do not always seems fleshed out. The most complete and put together songs on the project are the most bland ones. Overall, I feel like Rae Sremmurd could have done so much more with Sremm 4 Life. Although there are songs on the record I enjoy a lot and will come back to, overall Sremm 4 Life feels like a great example of many missed opportunities.

BEST TRACKS : Mississippi Slide, Not So Bad(Lean So Cold), Tanisha(Pump That), Activate(feat. Future), Flaunt It/Cheap, Diamonds Dancing, ADHD Anthem(2 Many Emotions)



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