Dizzy Mississippi brother duo Rae Sremmurd exploded in 2014 with three consecutive Top 40 singles that blurred the lines between melody and rap, pop and trap. Guided mostly by the massive beats of producer and mentor Mike Will Make It, last year’s album SremmLife turned those singles into an 11-song formula as reliable as an AC/DC record. For their second act, Rae Sremmurd return a little bit grown — last year’s “My X” had a chorus that went “I’m shining on my ex bitch,” this year’s “Do Yoga” boasts “all my girls do yoga then get high at night” — but they return a lot turnt up. Much of SremmLife 2 is basically a modern reboot of high-octane Southern crunk music, complete with cameos from vintage champagne sprayers like Lil Jon and Three Six Mafia’s Juicy J. Here, Mike Will’s beats are often made to tear clubs up, careening into buzzsawing industrial noise (“Start a Party”), Waka-ready speaker-blowers (“Over Here”) and a giddy collaboration with DJ Mustard that turns the California producer’s trademark bounce into an Atlanta shout-fest (“Set the Roof”).
But whether on earthquaking trap stompers or more traditionally melodic Rae Sremmurd songs (the Phil Collins-esque “Came a Long Way” details their path to success), Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi’s indelible appeal remains in their elastic voices. Stretching beyond SremmLife, their party-starting choruses are squeaked, squawked and shouted; mellower stuff can get a Makonnen-esque broken falsetto (“Swang”); “By Chance” succeeds with a haughty Dana Dane accent. They call themselves the “Black Beatles,” and even if they’ve somewhat abandoned their hook-y bubblegum melodies, at least they’ve embraced the Fab Four’s experimental mindset.