If there were a kingdom for party music, brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jimmi of Rae Sremmurd would be its anointed princes. The two came out of nowhere when, last year, their debut album SremmLife went gold, fulfilling the promise of the two hits that preceded it, “No Flex Zone” and “No Type.” While the duo continued to dominate that airwaves that summer, it’s been surprising since to see this album cycle’s slew of singles go largely ignored. Not a one of these songs is bad, per say—they’re just nowhere near the sensations that those previous hits were. Two of them, “By Chance” and “Look Alive,” even come from long-time collaborator Mike Will Made-It, and possess his usual earworm choruses. But those tracks are also just painfully flaccid; they don’t have the same irrepressible energy of the trio’s past efforts. Both singles trade in the group’s exuberant nature to focus solely on the songs’ melodies, a limiting prospect that ends up plaguing much of SremmLife 2.
If SremmLife was a straight rager, with both the highs and lows that come with that kind of till-the-break-of-dawn blowout, the sequel is all afterparty.
So what happened? It might just be that the youngsters are turning down a bit. If SremmLife was a straight rager, with both the highs and lows that come with that kind of till-the-break-of-dawn blowout, the sequel is all afterparty. Kicking things off, “Start a Party” does its titular job exceptionally well, trading lines about bringing exotic women to the fray, and pausing to cuss out those who don’t partake in “smoking loud.” But virtually nothing else here from the duo hits with that intensity. Instead, high-profile guests like Juicy J (the king of the aforementioned Party Kingdom) and Lil John have to themselves effectively carry on the sound they ushered in. The stretch from “Came a Long Way” to “Do Yoga” (songs that feature no guests) sound particularly vapid, leaving behind Rae Sremmurd’s rap roots and venturing further into heedless R&B. This rings false coming from a group that proudly proclaimed there would be no available zone in which people could hate on them. In trying to broaden their horizons for new listeners, they’ve wound up betraying their core appeal.