Before "Black Beatles" and before Swae Lee hooked up with Kanye West, Lee and Slim Jxmmi were just two brothers operating outside hip-hop's established guard as the duo Rae Sremmurd. The siblings hailed from Tupelo, Mississippi, but found their footing in the Southern hip-hop haven of Atlanta, where they went viral with their signature melodic rhymes, catchy hooks and leftfield delivery. On their ambitious 2015 debut album,SremmLife, the dynamic duo ushered in a new class of hip-hop eccentrics.
On SremmLife, the brothers are joined by some impressive A-list guest stars, including other self-styled MCs such as Big Sean, Young Thug and Nicki Minaj, who all make cameos. But it's Slim and Swae's show, as their chemistry gives SremmLife a feel of genuine authenticity. The album is both the product of (and inspiration for) countless memes and catchphrases of the social media age, and spawned an album's worth of potential one-hit wonders, from the lead single, "No Flex Zone," which hit No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned a remix by Waka Flocka Flame, to "No Type," which landed even higher, at No. 16. While "No Flex Zone" was all bouncy percussion and stabbing synths, "No Type" was a much hazier affair, highlighting the interplay between Swae's squeaky soprano and Slim's tight rhymes.
With assists from Nicki Minaj and Young Thug, "Throw Sum Mo" continued SremmLife's string of hits, eventually reaching No. 30 on the Billboard 100 – even though the 21-year-olds were barely old enough to get into the strip clubs the song was destined for. With "This Could Be Us," they interpolated another social media catchphrase into one of their tracks and made it into breezy break-up anthem, proving the duo could do reflective songwriting just as well as viral hitmaking.
Mike WiLL Made-It, who handles the majority of SremmLife's production duties, created the perfect framework for Rae Sremmurd's emerging pop-trap style. Midway through the 2010s, the duo were at the forefront of the new Atlanta sound, with uptempo, turn-up anthems that packed the dancefloors and catapulted them to the top of the charts.