October 10, 2014

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Evan Nabavian only flexes in the dark

Rae Sremmurd are men of juxtapositions. They make a song about bad bitches, but then the video shows them having wholesome fun with two young ladies. They live for the turn up, but the video shows a sunny day at the carnival. The beat is somber and minimal, but they throw endless elbows. And oh yeah, they look and sound like 6th graders.

The brothers Sremmurd are an outlet for Mike Will’s weirder ideas. It can’t be that hard to sell weird beats in Atlanta, especially if your name is Mike Will. Rather, it would appear Mike heard their pre-pubescent thrashing and thought he could make hits with it. Sure enough, “No Flex Zone” is one of 2014’s biggest debuts alongside “U Guessed It” and and “Hot Nigga”. It carefully matches the current palette of strip club/party rap and it’s meme-ready, validating Mike Will’s super-producer instincts. He surely recognized that the inversion of masculinity in rap that began with skinny jeans would reward dudes who sound like they just hooked up Tetris on their graphing calculators.

Child rappers aren’t new. Shyheim, Chi Ali, and Kriss Kross all played this card already. The difference with Rae Sremmurd is twofold. First, they’re not actually kids — they’re coy about it in interviews, but Swae Lee’s recent arrest proves he’s 19. Second, now that they’re are a few songs deep, it would appear that their cadence isn’t just a gimmick. I like their other two songs even more than “No Flex Zone.” “We” soundtracks a dystopian house party and “No Type” has pristine, crunchy synths you might hear on a 70s library record. The fact that they’re dropping an EP rather than a bloated mixtape suggests a rare semblance of quality control.

So approach Rae Sremmurd with an open mind. Anything can happen if Young Thug made it.

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