When Atlanta-via-Mississippi duo Rae Sremmurd dropped their infectious hit "No Flex Zone" early last year, it took months to bubble its way to the top of the charts. Produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, the track was an introduction to Slim Jimmy and Swae Lee, two new Ear Drummers signees, who would become one of the most promising acts in hip-hop over the last few months. Followed by the hits "No Type," an arguably better showcase of their talents, "Throw Sum Mo" featuring Nicki Minaj and Young Thug, and "Up Like Trump," Sremmurd's debut album, SremmLife, seems to have caught people off guard.
The 11-track album, with the majority of production from Mike WiLL Made-It along with Young Chop, Backpack, and Sonny Digital, is as much about nothing as it is an almost perfect, cohesive album from two brothers who are really just out here to have fun. “SremmLife is the good life, when you’re riding the front seat and everything is going good," they explained. "You break a rule, you say 'SremmLife,' it’s OK, whatever you did." We sat passenger seat as Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy took us on a track-by-track breakdown of their new album, which will arguably be one of the best of the year.
As told to Lauren Nostro (@LaurenNostro)
1. "Lit Like Bic"
Producer: Jeremy "Backpack" Miller
Swae Lee: “Lit lit lit, lit like Bic.” Everything just be fun that we do. Everything just be fire. Having fun is lit. Lit like Bic, everything flames. It’s really a freestyle. I just went in there one take. Jimmy just went in there one take.
I write a lot of rhymes, but I don’t really end up using them a lot of times, and I end up just freestyling. I like to write music, though, more than I like to freestyle to be honest.
Slim Jimmy: Sometimes [I write down lyrics].
Swae Lee: This is produced by Backpack. He about to come out with stuff. He’s doing a lot of underground stuff. He go hard, lowkey. He’s local. I met him one time, but he sends a lot of beats to one of my friends and then I just get them. He did some stuff with Casino. He’s about to pop.
Slim Jimmy: He’s new. He’s coming up.
Swae Lee: I found him through one of my engineers actually, but I think he goin' start working with Mike WiLL because Mike WiLL like the song. I like the bass on this song. When [our] engineer played [the beat] I was like, “What the fuck?” We had just did some songs, and he was like, “I got some beats.” So we heard them with open ears, and they sounded good, and we said, “Load it up.”
3. "Unlock the Swag" f/ Jace of Two-9
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It
Slim Jimmy: Two-9 is familia.
Swae Lee: Two-9, they’re like family, That Boy Curtis, Ceej. They on the same label, too. Ceej, we get real close every time we do a show or something. They wild boys, we wild boys. They unlock the swag, we unlock the swag.
Everybody loves the song. We performed it about six times, but every time we perform it everybody is like, “Unlock the swag!” Crazy.
Slim Jimmy: This is Mike WiLL. We were recording and I was yelling at the top of my lungs. Somebody was in the other room.
Swae Lee: It’s a home studio. No, you gotta tell this from the jump.
Slim Jimmy: I fell asleep in the studio, and I woke up at like 4 a.m. Then I started punching this punching bag, and then I went into the studio and this is what I made.
Swae Lee: No. The man was sleep and a hoe was sleeping like this [Imitates a woman laying next to him]. This was all at Mike WiLL’s, they have a good-ass home studio. We live in that studio. So the man wakes up out his dream, he drinks some Hennessey. Goes in the other room and starts punching the punching bag…. This is at like 4 or 5 in the morning.
Slim Jimmy: Yeah, and I was yelling, and it was somebody in the other room, and they thought we were fighting.
Swae Lee: They thought we were fighting.
Slim Jimmy: I was yelling, “Unlock the swag!”
Swae Lee: They were yelling, “What’s going in on there?”
Slim Jimmy: “Is everything OK?” [We record at night] that’s where we mostly come up with all the “Oo Oo”
Swae Lee: When we come out the shell. We’re nocturnal.
Slim Jimmy: We be serious. Real, real serious when we make our music.
Swae Lee: We get in our creative zone. Smoke a moke a lot of weed. This might be [the next single].
Slim Jimmy: We’ll just let it bubble.
5. "No Flex Zone"
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It
Slim Jimmy: We're not sick of it yet.
Swae Lee: Uh uh. I loved that song. It changed my life.
Slim Jimmy: It changed the world. They wait for it [when we perform live].
Swae Lee: Yeah, that’s what they waiting for. If we don’t do that it’s like, “You suck.”
Slim Jimmy: It’s the fun turn-up part where you can kick shit and everyone is familiar with what it sounds like.
Swae Lee: When I drop music, I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t think about the politics [of being a one-hit wonder]. Here’s some music, do what y'all do with it. All that extra stuff. It just does what it does. A lot of people, they want you to be a one-hit wonder. We don’t give a damn, we just working all the time.
Slim Jimmy: I understand it because people only pop off for a year.
Swae Lee: It’s such a cycle. You’ll see a rapper drop a song, and next thing you know he’s gone. They invited us to [perform this] at Kendall Jenner's birthday party. They hit us up like, "Come to the party." We love to party, so who wouldn’t want to party with such beautiful ladies and such beautiful people and turn up? We was in Cali, wasn’t doing shit else, so let’s go pipe up.
Man, we pulled up and Kanye had left 12 minutes before. Exactly 12 minutes before, that’s what they said.
Slim Jimmy: I wish, that would’ve been tight.
7. "My X"
Producer: Young Chop
Slim Jimmy: This is pretty much everything everybody in America wants to say to their ex. Everybody wants take a shit on they ex bitch.
Swae Lee: And we created that song. It’s created by Young Chop.
Slim Jimmy: It goes for females too. For their ex too, their boyfriends.
Swae Lee: It’s like you’re shining on your ex right now. You came up. You’re doing something with yourself. Your ex is like, “Damn, why’d I leave?”
Slim Jimmy: Damn, I should’ve stayed.
Swae Lee: Young Chop is the man. We always fucked with him. We made that song with Mike WiLL, we were in his car actually in his S6 like, “My S6, I’m riding in my S6.” [Singing together] But what we were like, “What about our ex bitch? My ex bitch I’m shinin on my ex bitch.” I had about two serious relationships with girls. But at the end we’re rolling stones. Jimmy was in love. I was in love probably like “two times.”
Slim Jimmy: I think you were in love worse than me though.
Swae Lee: Yeah, I was in love worse. I was in love. It was special. I was deep.
Slim Jimmy: I dated someone for a year and a half.
Swae Lee: His verse on the song is about the girl.
Slim Jimmy: She’s cool. I don’t have no beef with her. It’s no quarrel. We were young, and everybody breaks up for some reason. Nothing lasts forever. SremmLife.
Swae Lee: She cheated. Damn, we said it.
Slim Jimmy: Yeah, she cheated.
Swae Lee: She cheated on him! And now she tried to come back.
Slim Jimmy: I never cheated. I was living life.
Swae Lee: I was in love like a fool, but I was always in love with music so my head was always somewhere. Then I was trying to get a job, get good jobs and stuff, and it just wouldn’t work. I was always talking to other girls too. But I really loved her.
Slim Jimmy: We just really like girls.
Swae Lee: We don't have girlfriends now. You’ll probably gotta get a girlfriend in each city.
Slim Jimmy: I’m not even interested in having a girlfriend.
Swae Lee: You just told a girl you love her. [Laughs] I made that mistake. I did that recently and then the girl cut up.
Slim Jimmy: I always tell girls, “You gon’ fall in love with me before I leave."
Swae Lee: She was like real attached, and I was like, “Whoa.” When I said, “I love you,” that means I fuck with you. I fuck with your energy.
Slim Jimmy: He’s married.
Swae Lee: I fuck with her vibe. It’s like normal when you say it like that.
9. "This Could Be Us"
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It
Swae Lee: It’s like, “You’re my ex, but you’re playing.” It’s like the video for this is going to be crazy. It’s going to be not normal take you out to eat. We’re going to be out in space or something crazy.
Slim Jimmy: I’m going to be with my girl in space, then we’re going to go and play baseball.
Swae Lee: Let’s go to Applebee's. It’s going to be something crazy. Like, what’s crazy? I love Applebee's. Maybe jet skis. Maybe go to space. We have to make a video for this one.
11. "Come Get Her"
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It
Swae Lee: “Somebody Come Get Her,” every night.
Slim Jimmy: That’s my favorite song of the album. Mike WiLL Made-It. It speaks to all the women when they’re in the club feeling themselves. It’s an uplifting song.
Slim Jimmy: We love the other girls, not our exes.
Swae Lee: You know how the girl is in the club and she’s like wylin' and she’s having a good time.
Slim Jimmy: A girl in the club can never do too much because we’re in the club and we’re wylin' and going ham. I’m getting drunk and high in the club.
Swae Lee: I love the girls knocking over drinks in the club, going crazy. I love it.
Slim Jimmy: I be looking for the girl that’s trying to leave, to be honest.
Swae Lee: [Laughs] It’s like, “If your girl is over here dancing like a stripper, we’re going to come to get her.” So you better come get her. Like, come get your girl she’s dancing like a stripper and we like that.
Swae Lee: We’re real simple, take your girl and go.
Slim Jimmy: This is a no boyfriend zone.
Swae Lee: One time, there was square section, and I think the girl was coming for you, but the dude was right here, and we shook his hand. He liked the music. Sometimes we have to tell the girl like, “You gotta go.”
Slim Jimmy: We love you too, but that’s your boyfriend. It gets too awkward for me.
Swae Lee: [We go out] every night or every other night. [We've been going out since] maybe 15 [years old].
Slim Jimmy: We used to drink Burnett's.
Swae Lee: So gross.
Slim Jimmy: Everybody used to drink Burnett's.
Swae Lee: Cheap liquor yeah.
Slim Jimmy: The big bottles.
Swae Lee: [In Mississippi] if you’re turned up with a good reputation they’ll let you in.
Slim Jimmy: You can get in at 14. No ID if you got the money.
13. "Up Like Trump"
Producer: Sonny Digital
Swae Lee: Donald Trump. I was going to make a song called “Nunchucks.” I think Donald Trump is cool. I him and I’m like, “That’s a cool motherfucker.” He’s rich as fuck.
Slim Jimmy: He has a suit on on a boat.
Swae Lee: We shot the video on a double-decker bus. When we go to the top of the bus we look down and Donald Trump is on there. Nobody knows it, but when we first got on the bus after the shoot we just look at the bus and Donald Trump is there. Not on the bus, just a picture of him. It didn’t get in the video, but it’s a fun fact I guess.
Slim Jimmy: Like we’re going the right direction.
15. “Throw Sum Mo” f/ Young Thug and Nicki Minaj
Swae Lee: Me and Iceberg leaked it. He leaked it on one of his tapes, not with Nicki or Thug.
Slim Jimmy: We recorded the original last year.
Slim Jimmy: Soundz produced that.
Swae Lee: He does a lot of stuff. He works with Justin Bieber…
Slim Jimmy: We just thought it was going to be our record.
Swae Lee: We just want to see girls twerkin'.
Slim Jimmy: Young Thug got on it, he liked the song. Nicki Minaj, we met her in the studio. She was looking like a goddess.
Swae Lee: She was working on her album, and we were working on ours. We were going to do some collaboration work, but it was just crazy.
Slim Jimmy: She walked in looking like the most beautiful woman on the planet, and everything was in slow motion. Then time stopped. I couldn’t say anything because my mouth wouldn’t open. I was trying to say “Hi,” but I couldn’t.
Swae Lee: With Thug, we went to the same studio, and we were playing some music.
Slim Jimmy: Fun fact: It was DJ Drama's studio and Young Thug was in there. We went in there and just did it so fast. He’s dope. He’s funny.
Swae Lee: I can understand what he’s saying. He said, “I might fuck yo’ bitch in the kitchen.”
17. "YNO" f/ Big Sean
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It
Swae Lee: Young N-words On. Like, you’re making it in life, you’re being successful. One thing I want to do for this video, I don’t want to have any black people. I think that would be interesting. I imagine it being all white people. It’s got Big Sean produced by Mike WiLL.
Slim Jimmy: Big Sean called us on the phone and he said he would like to get on it.
Swae Lee: And we started seeing him at a lot of shows.
Swae Lee: I feel like he’s most improved. He unlocked the swag all the way now. We changed our verses, so many revisions to our verses. Our verses went hard, but they had to be crazy.
Slim Jimmy: We got the sibling rivalry thing.
Swae Lee: He’s always looking at my girl.
Slim Jimmy: It’s all love.
19. "No Type"
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It and Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd
Swae Lee: I love explaining this. We gotta make a video for this and drop a video explaining this. [The song] means I don’t have no type. To us, bad bitches are a category. It’s not even a type. You got Asian, Latino, black, white, tall, short—we like all of them. As long as they bad bitches. I think “bad bitch” is like a trait that the girl should have. As long as she’s fine. Girls be like, “Am I your type?”
Slim Jimmy: In the video we had a girl who didn’t fit the classification of this song, so we edited it out.
Swae Lee: She had fine friends, but she wasn’t, but she was all in the shot. It was just random girls on the beach. Venice Beach. We were going to drop one more “No,” but we didn’t.
Slim Jimmy: It’s really like “No Flex," but we didn’t really want to drop [another] super hype song.
Swae Lee: It’s still super hype but…
Slim Jimmy: It’s like chill. We knew the whole club was going to sing it like a choir.
Swae Lee: You have the first part, “I don’t got no type” ayeee.
Slim Jimmy: It’s a known, aye.
21. "Safe Sex Pay Checks"
Producer: Honorable C.N.O.T.E.
Slim Jimmy: Use condoms and get money.
Swae Lee: Life. This is what life is about. Safe sex and paychecks. Making money and riding with girls. Condom endorsement.
Slim Jimmy: Magnum.
Swae Lee: The video is going to be like Project X.
Slim Jimmy: I’m just going to get drunk as fuck in this video.
Swae Lee: Raining condoms.
Slim Jimmy: The swimming pool is going to be filled with condoms.
Slim Jimmy: When we were recording this we were with our big brother P-Nasty.
Swae Lee: He’s one of our Tupelo Gang. Tupelo Gang is us, Elvis, Diplo, P-Nasty. He can rap and sing, but he’s one of Mike WiLL’s Ear Drummer producers. He’s the one that gave us the big chance. We had jobs at Olive Garden in Tupelo, and he said, “Y'all, leave Tupelo…”
Slim Jimmy: Fuck that shit, come to Atlanta.
Swae Lee: I’ll always love Olive Garden.
Slim Jimmy: I can’t wait to go in there and buy all I want.
Swae Lee: Those little breadsticks? Sheesh. We used all the money for our music. That day, when we were recording, we were just sitting with a girl. I think we had AK in there.
Slim Jimmy: No we had Chasity. We went upstairs and wrote the whole hook. It was a lot of people in the room and it turned into more than we thought it was.