RAE SREMMURD SremmLife 2 Interscope / Ear Drummers
The conflict between two schools of hip-hop fan continues. Those who hold lyrical complexity and soulful samples as the touchstones of quality watch on in disbelief as radio stations and audiences celebrate a sound built – in part – on club-ready beats and hashtag-friendly punchlines.
More than most, Rae Sremmurd have been caught in the crossfire of this war. The brothers’ distinctive, stop-start flow arrives in tightly-screwed bursts – a style which has been mimicked and parodied ever since their hook-heavy debut album, 2015’s SremmLife. Here, on the much-anticipated follow-up to that hit-machine, the Atlanta-via-Mississippi duo unlock something even more hyperactive, gleefully throwing any artistic inhibitions out the window.
And that’s the beauty of SremmLife 2. Swae Lee’s unique songwriting style – which helped form the hook of Beyoncé’s historic Formation earlier in the year – reaches giddy new heights here. His scratchy squawks are offset by the forceful delivery of his brother Slim Jxmmi’s, who practically explodes on the aptly titled opener Start A Party.
The Gucci Mane collaboration, Black Beatles, is a banger for the ages – a gloriously melodic club ballad with a hook you’ll struggle to forget. Then there’s Set The Roof, where the brothers team up with crunk emperor Lil Jon for a pastiche of the style in its mid-2000s commercial peak. It’s a smart nod, Lee and Jxmmi would have been eight and nine years old respectively when Get Low took over the charts for 21 weeks. But by bringing Lil Jon into the fold, they acknowledge the forefather of their philosophy – an unapologetic expression of youthful energy. The brothers are darting forward here – amplifying their eccentricities for those willing to embrace their magnetism. The war wages on, but Rae Sremmurd barely even acknowledge it. Resistance is futile.