Saturday, August 18, 2018

SremmLife 2 (2016)

Whenever I'm drawn to an album in the first place by hit singles—in this case, "Swang" and especially "Black Beatles"—I can't be surprised if the whole thing doesn't necessarily add up to more than the sum of its parts. And SremmLife 2 does not, though most of these tunes have hooks and other redeeming qualities and at least one of the other singles and a few others distinguish themselves enough to make it worth throwing them into shuffle mixes. The duo of Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee took the strange name Rae Sremmurd from the name of a former label, EarDrummers, spelled backward, sort of. They're from Tupelo, Mississippi. Co-producer and EarDrummers principal Mike Will is based out of Atlanta. They made the first single from SremmLife 2 "By Chance," which is a fairly aimless if insinuating exercise riffing off a piano figure reminiscent of one by the Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti from the movie Eyes Wide Shut. "By Chance" never charted but I enjoyed the excuse to roam around the movie soundtrack another time. The big hit for Rae Sremmurd came with the third try from this album. "Black Beatles" turned out to be the monster, spending weeks in and out of the #1 spot. You probably know it for that reason, and know already what a blast of fresh free-floating energy it is (although I understand you might be tired of it now), with a rhythm pitched face-forward and moving like the lumbering Frankenstein monster around the edges of all the hairpin switch-ups. It's a dicey move to name check Liverpool's finest but when your pop instincts are this good no one can object. Some other songs I've learned to look forward to here include the sinuous "Do Yoga," describing a lifestyle of champions ("all my girls do yoga, then get high at night"), "Set the Roof," as in set it on fire, a rousing rave-up, and "Take It or Leave It," another sweet example of how far and easily they can slip over into pop confectioneries. "Swang" was a solid follow-up to "Black Beatles." I haven't caught up with their latest yet, but SremmLife 2 is already a big advance over the debut.

1 comment:

  1. I have this hunch that Mike Will is the secret sauce w/ these guys. Loved the off-handed audacity of "Black Beatles"; great single. The Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and now these guys are the African American Beatles. You know Kanye wished he'd conceived of this one.