Bad behavior: Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane

Rae Sremmurd – Sremmlife 2

“I saved some room for you, take it or leave it” sums up the complexity of Rae Sremmurd’s epistemological view of life and relationships. But when the words wear me down the production, mostly by Mike Will Made It and one other collaborator, compensates. And what compensations. Garnished with sirens, beepers, and EGK meters, the rapped verses and sung choruses closer to chants, Swae Lee squawking harmonies on “Real Chill,” this duo’s music is the giddiest approximation of adolescence I’ve heard in years: they don’t want to grow up because after an RIAA-certified debut gave them the exposure and dough to try yoga, chinchillas, and fuck knows what else they regard as “exotic” they’re ready to get down. I can identify an antecedent close to home: Miami bass, whose boombastic jingling babies made it difficult if not pointless to distinguish the crass from the stupid. Or think Descendants crossed with Kool Keith. They won’t keep this up — they can’t. I hear ominous portents in “Look Alive,” where they offer “numb, quasi-ruminative” Rae Sremmurd, which arouses my suspicions as much as “nuanced, character-driven” The Weeknd might. I can imagine a scenario in which meeting women who do more than give good brain crumbles their pleasure dome. For the moment, I’ll savor the smarts that use a variant on the original, dirtier opening line for “Day Tripper” as the sharpest hook in “Black Beatles.”

Gucci Mane – Everybody Looking


Over the course of forty-nine-and-counting mix tapes, only a few of which I’ve owned and listened to, the Atlanta rapper has delineated a technique that treats autobiographical narrative as sequences of one-liners tickled by delivery and timbre. Like Frank O’Hara’s casual, insouciant lunch poems, Radric Delantic Davis get their declamatory force from seeing woven out of the air. Recorded in six days after his release from prison, with raps written on yellow legal pads, Everybody Looking is the only album Gucci could have recorded at this moment; with a Drake tune here and a Kanye appearance there, it assures listeners that Gucci has met an aesthetic bottom line, no doubt financial too. He must know that “All My Children” is a redundancy. The charts show, not tell: Migos, Future, Young Thug, Waka Flocka Flame, all proteges and successors of varying talents. Apart from “Robbed,” “Pop Music,” and the bonus track “Multi Millionaire Laflare,” Everybody Looking doesn’t boast many classics, but “Gucci Please” is resonant enough to work as a comment on Gucci and his fans. If he can’t dazzle with fecundity again, he’ll devise new ways of honing his prick game.

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