Review Summary: A worthy sequel to 2015's most fun hip-hop album
Brothers Khalif "Swae Lee" and Aaquil "Slim Jxmmi" Brown (aka Rae Sremmurd) made one hell of an entrance into the hip-hop arena. Tupelo, Mississippi's resident turn up gods made immediate waves with their debut LP SremmLife in January 2015-which spawned smash hit singles "No Flex Zone" and "No Type"- and have used the buzz they gained from that record to secure collaborations with a number of high-profile artists over the past year and a half including the likes of Beyonce, Travi$ Scott and Future. Rae Sremmurd's seemingly unstoppable momentum continues with their new record SremmLife 2, which marks a logical, natural progression from its predecessor.
If SremmLife marked Rae Sremmurd's arrival to the party, SremmLife 2 documents the point where the booze and drugs have fully kicked in and the fun has really started. In other words, SremmLife was merely an appetizer for the level of debauchery and champagne-soaked fun SremmLife 2 offers up. Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi establish the album's rollicking tone right away with the five-alarm banger of an opening track "Start a Party". The pair deliver spastic verses filled with ridiculous one-liners (ex: "If you don't smoke loud, be quiet!" and "Getting money my favorite sport/Carrera my favorite Porsche) and a flawless "hype" hook behind a beat that is nothing short of incendiary. "Start a Party" kick a stacked seven-strong stretch of the album anchored. The similarly boisterous "Shake It Fast" and "Set the Roof" sees Rae Sremmurd's winning rapport and off-the-charts charisma perfectly complemented by guest spots from party hip-hop legends Juicy J and Lil Jon respectively while "Look Alive" and Kodak Black-assisted "Real Chill" are low-key, grimy tracks that feature some of the best rapping the duo has ever done. The audible amount of Swae and Slim fun are having on the mic on this stretch of the record is contagious as hell and it creates such an entertaining listening atmosphere that I couldn't help but get swept up in it.
Helping Rae Sremmurd cement SremmLife2's livelier, wider-spanning sound is their mentor/label manager/primary producer Mike Will Made It. Mike Will's fingerprints are all over this album as he either produced or co-produced nine of the album's 11 tracks. Per usual, Mike Will's primary mission is to keep the listener on their toes with his work by utilizing a wide variety of beats over the course of the album. He uses everything from oft-kilter piano lines ("By Chance) to rock-tinged keys ("Black Beatles") to suffocating walls of synths, record-scratching and thumping 808's (the aforementioned "Set the Roof", which was a collaboration with DJ Mustard) to amplify and diversify Rae Sremmurd's live-wire sound. Swae and Slim may bring the energy and swagger to the table, but its the tremendous work of Mike Will that cements Rae Sremmurd's status as hip hop's most unrelenting party powerhouse.
Late missteps aside ("Now That I Know" and especially "Do Yoga" are completely insufferable), SremmLife 2 is every bit of the satisfying sequel I'd hoped it would be. The songwriting is noticeably improved and the chemistry between/colorful personalities of Swae and Slim that made their last record enjoyable is ever better here. I love substantial, thought-provoking hip-hop as much as anyone, but sometimes it's good to just let loose and listen to music that's catchy, engaging and full of good vibes. SremmLife 2 is the perfect high-energy, banger-filled soundtrack to end this (mostly) fun-deprived fun summer on.