“SCR3MM” is an unexpected surprise for Rae Sremmurd listeners

Julian Balboa/Staff Writer

Tupelo, Mississippi sibling-duo Rae Sremmurd are back at it again for their third album of fun youthful trap with producer Mike WiLL-Made-It, a producer that I personally feel is one of the most innovative in an increasingly oversaturated genre of music.

With generic release after generic release, it seems like no one with even the dimmest spotlight was motivated to make fresh and inventive trap. I place equal parts blame on both rapper and producer: the rapper for being delusional to think he’s good at rapping, and the producer for giving him a platform on those stale beats. I just want to know who opened up the floodgates for this onslaught of mediocre, bottom-of-the-barrel generic garbage. Honestly, I blame the labels for that one. But, I digress.

“SR3MM” is the newest album from Rae Sremmurd, but not only did we get a new album from the duo, we got a solo record from each member, too. Swae Lee’s “Swaecation” and Slim Jxmmi’s “Jxmtro”short forJxmtroduction.” It was a promise that was held true to their word.

When this was announced, I became immediately skeptical. My hypothesis was this: “Rae Sremmurd are better than the sum of their parts.” I was positive that these solo albums will prove that they have a lot more chemistry when they’re together than when they’re apart. The singles that trickled out were also definitely poignant of that, too. It was only a matter of time until the album arrived.

I’m a Rae Sremmurd fan. I’ve loved both projects before this and thought they were making some of the most infectious trap music around. “No Type,” “Throw Sum Mo,” “Come Get Her,” “Could Be Us,” “No Flex Zone,” “My X,” “Lit Like Bic,” “Black Beatles,”“Swang,” “By Chance,” “Look Alive,” they have proven themselves as competent artists and it delights me to no end when an artist breaks the barrier that could have kept them at “one hit wonder” status. In fact, that was something thrown around all the time before “Sremmlife 2.”

“SR3MM

No questions, the third entry in their discography is the best of the three albums released. In comparison with the three “Sremmlifes,” I found it a bit more enjoyable than “Sremmlife 2,” but not as enjoyable as the first “Sremmlife.”

The album kicks off with lighthearted energy from both brothers on the first track, “Up in My Cocina”. They add the lyrical ingredients to Mike WiLL-Made-It’s fantastically simple dish. His signature snares and drums, the symphonic synths, the strong baselines mixed with Swae Lee’s crooning cadence and Slim Jxmmi’s braggadocious bars. It’s a recipe that has been working well for over four years. Other tracks that follow the same recipe are “Buckets,” “Powerglide” and “Perplexing Pegasus.”

There are other songs that aren’t produced by Mike WiLL but still also stay true to their exuberant flavor, such as “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”, and “T’d Up.” Though, the flaws in “SR3MM” appear on the first half of the album. The Travis Scott-featuring “CLOSE” is a mess due to Travis’ empty guest verse and Swae Lee’s shallow lyrics. He sings,“It’s not my fault that I don’t wanna end up screwed/And everything I’m tryna say, you beat me to it/And all the ups and all the downs, we have been through it/Now you’re C-L-O-S-E/You’re too C-L-O-S-E to me.”

The concept of the hook doesn’t work because it’s more annoying than catchy. Also, for someone trying to find “love right up my avenue,” complaining about someone being too close to you really does come off as shallow.

The following song, “Bedtime Stories,” is a complete snooze fest. The Weeknd belts out a forgettable hook and the whole song sounds like a swirl of words pitched in autotune. By the time Slim Jxmmi’s part comes on, you’re completely over it. Far and away, his verse is the worst singing on the entire project.

The only other hiccup on this album I can remember is on “42.” The instrumental is this 8-bit-inspired trap, but the delivery of the hook on this thing is just so obnoxious. The features are so-so here. Travis Scott and The Weeknd don’t add anything to the track to warrant their appearances, but Juicy J and Future both add fun verses to their tracks. Future, especially, had one of the most impressive verses I’ve heard out of him in a long time on “Buckets”.

Overall, if you’re looking for the same amount of fun that the other Sremmlife albums had, you won’t be disappointed. Mike WiLL and Rae Sremmurd are a duo that don’t disappoint for the most part.

However, when you strip that away, you get these next two albums. You get the extremely boring and, I guess, melodic Swaecation; and the extremely inconsistent- yet kinda fun “Jxmtro.”

“Swaecation”

On “Swaecation,” you have an album almost devoid of any energy. It’s sure got a lot of autotune, but not a lot of energy going for it. The only time it ever starts up is on the song, “Offshore” featuring Young Thug. The only song on “Swaecation” produced by Mike WiLL-Made-It, it’s a slow burner that sees Thugger and Swae Lee exchange croons over quick snare, but it’s Thug that keeps my attention through to see out the rest of the song.

The barely-there tenderness of penultimate track, “Red Wine,” is an attempt to bring the listener into Swae Lee’s world, but by this point, I had been dying for this album to have ended three songs in. Not much more to say about it.

“Jxmtro”

On Jxmtro, the energy lost for over 40 minutes is brought right back. With six of the nine songs produced by Mike WiLL-Made-It, it’s pretty clear where it came from. Some songs see Jxmmi as a competent emcee (and by some, I mean, like two of them), but for the most part, he can’t carry a whole album on his own. Opener “Brxnks Truck” is fun, but it’s doesn’t get to feel welcome. The Zoë Kravitz feature, “Anti Social Smokers Club,” was an unexpected banger complete with a surprise verse from Kravitz that ended up being a lot of fun. However, it’s too short. Jxmmi can’t captivate an audience on his own, but even his guests have a hard time captivating an audience.

The one song is that should have been the standout was “Chanel,” featuring Swae Lee and Pharrell. The song simply suffers from being too long and having an obnoxious hook. Catchy for the wrong reasons. Fellow Ear Drummers signee Trouble appears on the track, “Cap,” but the song’s concept lacks any interest for the listener to latch onto. When a song relies on familiar tropes, it better at least be catchy, otherwise it’s fodder.

Too many of the songs have the intention of wanting to command attention and get you moving (“Chanel,” “Cap,” “Changed Up,” “Keep God First,” “Juggling Buddies” and “Growed Up”), but that an exciting album does not make. It’s something that Mike WiLL probably knew himself, saving the best beats for the brothers on their album together. A wasted opportunity, but a valiant effort indeed.

Was there a need for three albums? No, but I was definitely curious what that idea would have sounded like  I’m glad it happened because what I thought would happen was, at the very least, confirmed for me. Rae Sremmurd are a package deal and two parts of a well-oiled machine. If either of them wants to go solo, it’s gonna take some serious growth as artists.

FINAL VERDICT:

SR3MM: 7/10

Swaecation: 2/10

Jxmtro: 6/10

 

Featured photo taken from Rae Sremmurd’s Instagram.

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