For a couple of young-looking, early 20-something brothers, life couldn’t be better. Aaquil and Khalif Brown, better known as Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee, respectively, had been grinding for years before signing to Mike WiLL Made-It’s Ear Drummer Records. Their debut album SremmLife, with infectious hits such as “No Type” and “This Could Be Us,” were the soundtrack to many wild nights across the world; you could say they aced their first impression. However, the dreaded ‘sophomore slump’ has befell may artists, and the pressure was on to deliver another one, as DJ Khaled would say. On SremmLife 2, the duo come through with another party-ready record, albeit a little less lit from their debut.
Rae Sremmurd aren’t going to wow you with deep lyrics or complex arrangements. Like many rappers to break into the mainstream over the past few years, the two’s calling card have been catchy pop-trap anthems, and the trend continues on SL2. “Black Beatles” featuring Gucci Mane, with it’s synthy undertones and hi-hats courtesy of frequent collaborators DJ Mustard and the aforementioned Mike WiLL are a perfect combination, especially with Swae Lee’s melodic chorus. Lead single “By Chance” contains an irresistable piano loop with a sing-along hook that no doubt people have already remembered for the next time it plays at the club. Speaking of clubs, current single “Set the Roof” was made for them. In addition to the relentless verses from Swae and Jxmmi, Lil Jon takes us back to 2003 with his crunk-fueled powerhouse chorus. Substance or not, they get the job done regardless.
Though it’s true that Sremmurd can make heaters with the best of them, they can flex their artistic muscles when they feel like it. “Look Alive” is a slow burner with a crooning Swae on the hook, showcasing his melodic flow prowess. “Now That I Know” and “Take It Or Leave It” both similarly highlight the youngest brother’s ability to craft pop-friendly hooks that will certainly help him if he decides to pursue a solo career. It’s certainly possible, as he reportedly has a Jxmmi-less project in the works. Swae isn’t the only one handling chorus duties though. Jxmmi delivers a more than capable hook of his own on “Came a Long Way,” which has the two reflecting on where they are and where they have been. “Came a long way from the ‘Sip,” the eldest brother raps. “Young n*gga, I done came a long way.”
While the first installment of the SremmLife series was packed with more bangers, the second has a little more variety, and showcases more of what the two young stars are capable of. Couple that with the excellent production from Mike WiLL, DJ Mustard, Resource, The Martianz, etc., and it’s safe to say Rae Sremmurd didn’t succomb to the ‘sophomore slump’ that so many before them have. Whether they continue to slowly progress or revert back to their ‘lit like bic’ roots, we’ll be listening either way.