Rae Sremmurd are lit. They make music to turn up to. It's probably best not to expect more from the group than that. Their aesthetic universe consists of little more than expensive liquors, designer labels, weed and one-night stands. This is not to say there's anything wrong with this. We all need to turn up sometimes and much of the finest music in the world tells us to do little more than dance and make memories that we can barely remember . Rae Sremmurd seem tailor-made to annoy Nas obsessives and those that miss the old Kanye.
Much of the group's power comes from their close collaboration with one of the world's most important hip-hop producers, Mike-Will-Made-It. It might cynically be suggested that he is really their mastermind – their Phil Spector – but that misses out on something the two rappers bring to the table. They follow in the steps of these southern rap superstars (Future, Young Thug) who have found a way to blur the line between singing and rapping - a style heavily inspired by Toronto's very own.
One thing that always strikes me about current hip-hop is how, despite the heavy auto-tune use and the sharing of the same circle of producers, distinct different rappers sound from each other (except maybe Desiigner). Rae Sremmurd have their own idiosyncratic boyish yelps that could come from no-one else. There is much more to rapping than complexity and internal rhyme patterns; Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy have a charisma that makes their party rap work. Sometimes I'd just rather hear a line like "she said let me guess you're a drug dealer/ I say nah I just brought a lotta money and a whole lotta drugs with me", especially with the way it's delivered. Their charisma is notable in the fact that they manage to make all the people they get in to do guest verses sound flat. It took me about six listens 'til I noticed Kodak Black (star of one of 2016's finest singles) on 'Real Chill' and appearances from Juicy J and Gucci Mane are just as forgettable.
If SremmLife was the first Van Halen (which it wasn't quite), then this is Van Halen II. SremmLife 2 is still an entertaining party record, sure, but the hooks don't reach the same heights. The album lacks the incredible singles of the first album (few things are as transcendent as 'No Type'). In no way does this mean the album lacks good songs, it just lacks great songs. Saying that, the album is remarkably consistent. 'Real Chill', 'Black Beatles' and 'By Chance' are simultaneously low-key and catchy. The group even show what they probably feel is their sensitive side on 'Now That I Know'. The weakest track is the bland, Lil Jon-featuring, 'Set The Roof'. Even then, I imagine it could be a fun track in a club or live setting. But as home listening, Lil Jon's bark combined with DJ Mustard's increasingly dull production style does little. SremmLife 2 is overall a strong effort as an album. However, as the group's pop-trap appeal lays largely on the strength of their singles, some fans could easily see it as somewhat of a failure.
7Ed Ledsham's Score