Music

10 Best Rae Sremmurd Songs

These standout tracks prove that there's far more to Rae Sremmurd than the memes.
By Luke Winkie
7 min readPublished on
Slim Jxmmy and Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd.
Rae Sremmurd
Less than a decade ago, Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy were squatting in an abandoned house. The electricity was kept on thanks to the magnanimity of the landlord who discovered them there. After setting aside money earned from their part-time jobs to buy recording equipment, they slowly climbed their way through the hip-hop social ladder with addictive melodies and resonant personal chemistry. The halcyon Rae Sremmurd took meetings with Def Jam and Sony before inking a soon-to-be crucial partnership with Mike Will Made It and his label EarDrummers.
From there, the two boys brought their hooks to a broader audience, turning swaggy rap-blog buzz into Billboard success. The world at large was charmed by their electric, juvenile bars and Mike Will’s jittery, addictive production solidified them on dancefloors everywhere. "Sremmlife" peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 in 2015 and last year’s sequel "Sremmlife 2" reached number four, with "Black Beatles" climbing all the way to the top spot. If things continue like this, Sremmurd will soon have one of the highest batting averages in pop history. After two albums, here are our 10 favorite songs so far in their young career.

10. "Real Chill"

Kodak Black grew up in South Florida, a few states over from Sremmurd’s ancestral home in Tupelo, Mississippi. Both share the same fascination with zonked, earworm beats and casual, narcotized self-promotion. It seemed only natural that someday they’d share the same track — naturally Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy invited Black to "Real Chill," the smokiest song on their second record "Sremmlife 2." "One snap in, I put some racks in my grill, no weapons allowed, I brought my strap in here still" he croaks in his snotty, schoolyard taunt. If Sremmurd ever decided to add a third member, Kodak makes a pretty good case.

9. "Swang"

Rae Sremmurd’s debut was a classic featherweight rap record. Two fresh-faced kids free of expectation, road weariness or nasty comedowns. It was lovable, but it didn’t stick to much, and a year later on "Sremmlife 2" the Atlanta teens started to show a bit of well-earned creakiness. "Swang" is a dadaist tribute to a bleary night out, but their voices are burnt to a crisp. "Going through the money like a phase, don’t say my name in vain," says a dilated, exhausted-as-hell Swae Lee. Personally, we can’t wait to hear Sremmurd’s "There’s A Riot Goin’ On."

8. "Throw Sum Mo"

Rae Sremmurd’s first brush with the A-list happened on the first "Sremmlife," when they invited the mercurial Nicki Minaj for the hook of the sweaty, skeevy anthem “Throw Some Mo.” After Swae and Jimmy offer two of the best verses of their career, the smoke is cleared for Young Thug, who sprays his usual hovering, half-sung strut all over Mike Will Made It’s iced-out arpeggio. A couple years later these two would be sharing songs with Gucci Mane, Lil Jon and Juicy J, but this was the first moment where they proved they could hold their own with the cream of the crop.

7. "No Flex Zone"

All a great party rap track needs is a slogan at the center that’s both affirming and extremely fun to say. It’s a tradition that’s been passed through everyone who’s ever held a spotlight — Lil Wayne ("what’s a goon to a goblin?"), Kanye ("no one man should have all that power"), Drake (pretty much the entirety of "Worst Behavior"). Pop stars will always feel themselves better than us, and we feed off their bravado like a wall charger. In 2015, Sremmurd turned in "No Flex Zone," which has since become an anti-chump national anthem. Nothing carves out the potential of a rowdy dance floor better. They know better, they know better.

6. "Now That I Know"

"Of course I want to lie, and say I don’t miss you, my bitch on the side, she just told me to forget you," laments a weepy Swae Lee in a fragile falsetto. After two albums of flexes, benzes and endless nights out, you would be forgiven to think that Rae Sremmurd weren’t capable of the same emotions as the general population. But yes, even the young, rich and extremely famous aren’t above turning a failed love affair into pop fiction. It’s unlikely that these two will ever pen a full-on "Take Care" anytime soon, but our first taste of the moody Sremmurd is indelible.

5. "Look Alive"

A handful of years back, Chief Keef released "Love Sosa," one of the most sinister rap songs ever laid to tape. It’s a dead-eyed, derelict drone into the realities of life on the South Side of Chicago. "Look Alive" isn’t quite as cynical as "Love Sosa," but it does borrow the same bleak, Imperial March beat courtesy of frequent collaborator (and minimal genius) Mike Will Made It. Jimmy and Swae trade in Keef’s grittiness for an ethereal, subterranean echo. After years of self-reflexive tryhards trying to double or triple time their flows, a younger generation has discovered that you can be pretty effective while going as slow as possible.

4. "Come Get Her"

Slim Jimmy and Swae Lee are both capable rappers, but they might be better singers. Not in the traditional sense necessarily, but Swae in particular has a weird pubescent softness to his tenor. It’s put to great use on "Come Get Her," which would’ve been lost in the pile of other club seductions on "Sremmlife." Instead, Swae’s nursery rhyme of a hook renders the whole thing slightly innocent. In 10 years these two brothers might find a song like "Come Get Her" embarrassing, but we’ll still love it.

3. "This Could Be Us"

Of course the deeply millennial Rae Sremmurd would be the first rap group to dedicate an entire song to Twitter-ordained #relationshipgoals. Arriving in the middle of "Sremmlife," a record primarily about irrational self-confidence and muscular Friday nights, Slim Jimmy and Swae Lee are a little tweaked about a girl. "Improvise, look me in my eyes and lie to me, lie to me, act like I'll believe anything," they lament over a neon Mike Will Made It gurgle. Yeah, a few lines later they flex their push-to-start Mercedes and name Project Pat their guru — but this time it feels like two teenagers trying their best to stow away their vulnerabilities. Sometimes not even bottle service can fill the hole in your heart.

2. "No Type"

For a lot of people, "No Type" was the first introduction to the candy-coated, boy-band raps of Rae Sremmurd. Two boys in cut-offs and Hawaiian shirts looking morose and detached on a golden stretch of Angeleno coastline. They talk about spending money and talking to girls with the puffed-up stunts they learned from Wayne, Gucci and a host of other southern icons. These days Swae Lee is co-writing with Beyonce, and it’s safe to say that Sremmurd will never be on the cusp of fame again. That’s what makes "No Type" so indelible, the first moment they tasted a lifestyle they’ve been chasing since grade school.

1. "Black Beatles"

2016’s "Sremmlife 2" was weirder, darker and hazier than its nubile predecessor. It seemed clear that the Brothers Sremm were doing their best to stake out their claim in the crowded Atlanta province. A warped, autonomous pair of artistes demanding the respect offered to compatriots like Future and Young Thug. The best artifact from their awakening is "Black Beatles," an alien, hypnotic mantra caught somewhere between early '00s Neptunes and buzzsaw Aphex Twin electronica. Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy put themselves over as the prodigal inheritors of the most important pop group in history. Who knows? They might be right.