Outkast set a high bar for hip-hop. Duo Rae Sremmurd wants to clear it

The only thing backwards about the up-and-coming hip-hop group Rae Sremmurd is their name, which is the group’s label, EarDrummers, spelled in reverse (sort of). Otherwise, 26-year-old Slim Jxmmi, and 22-year-old Swae Lee have pushed the new school of hip-hop forward with a penchant for infectious party hits and fashion-forward style. With a new album and signature Reebok sneakers coming out later this year, the pair has their sights set on ascending to more rarified air.

Rae Sremmurd’s infectious 2016 hit Black Beatles was impossible to avoid, and became the duo’s first No. 1 record on the Billboard Hot 100 in a distinctly millennial fashion: The mannequin challenge on social media. Thousands of people, including one of the original Beatles, Paul McCartney, made Black Beatles-soundtracked videos of themselves frozen in action like mannequins while a moving camera filmed them. The trend helped the group’s Gucci Mane-assisted single garner nearly 400 million streams, making it the 16th most streamed song of 2016 in just three months.

Now, the rambunctious duo are preparing their most ambitious endeavor yet, Sremmlife 3, a three-disc effort featuring a solo album from both members and a duo album. Speaking with Digital Trends at the Reebok Fast Flexweave launch party in New York City, Rae Sremmurd compared themselves to Outkast, detailed their upcoming SremmBok shoes, and let fans know when they can expect to hear Sremmlife 3.

Reebok has been in hip-hop culture for decades. What are some of your earliest memories of Reebok collaborations with hip-hop?

Slim Jxmmi: If I’m being honest, I don’t know a lot of Reebok collaborations, but I do know that Juvenile did rock the Reeboks. That was a real big influential thing. I liked it.

Swae Lee: Didn’t Run-D.M.C. used to wear Reeboks?

Nah. They wore Adidas.

Swae Lee: Oh, yeah. [Laughs] Well, that early era with the jumpsuits. The Reebok jumpsuits, and the Reebok Classics with the shades.

You signed an endorsement deal with Reebok last summer. Have you been designing your new sneaker?

Swae Lee: Oh yeah. We got some crazy SremmBoks coming soon. They’re designer shoes coming with Sremmlife 3 the album. SremmBok.

What have you learned in the process of working on your first shoe?

Slim Jxmmi: We haven’t started the process yet.

“They tried to compare us to Outkast. [Outkast] didn’t do this.”

Swae Lee: I already got my shoes coming. They’re going to be crazy. Look out for them joints.

Slim Jxmmi: Well, I ain’t started yet. When I start, I’ll let you know what the process is like.

Swae Lee: I walked right in the office. I had my designs ready. Photos. They printed them up on the shoe. The shoe came out crazy. Took about three tries, and came out crazy. Dropping in stores around the world.

Are you going to release the shoes like you do the album, with three separate shoes? One for each of you and then a Rae Sremmurd shoe?

Swae Lee: That’s a good idea.

Slim Jxmmi: We’re like a trio, but we’re a duo. So, it’s like, how are you a triple threat?

Rae Sremmurd Sremmlife 3
Reebok

How did the idea of dropping three albums as one for Sremmlife 3 come about? That’s pretty ambitious.

Slim Jxmmi: Honestly, for me, the idea came when the world started saying, “Damn, the group would be so much better if Slim Jxmmi wasn’t in it.” You could take that two ways. Incredibly angry, frustrated, and you can hate the world. Or, you could be like, these people think this of me. So, let me go ahead and deliver and show them what I got to say. That’s what this tape is. It’s a Slim Jxmmi side, and they already want a Swae Lee side. Why not give the people what they want? Also, we got a lot of Rae Sremmurd fans — to appease them we’re going to also drop the Rae Sremmurd side. The Slim Jxmmi side is up in the air of what you should expect. I just dropped my first solo song, Brxnks Truck, and people are really rocking with it. Shout out to everybody.

“I plan on being in the game for about 45 years.”

Swae Lee: That’s my brother. One thing about Rae Sremmurd is we always do different shit. So, we was thinking that we not about to drop another album. Everybody dropping albums. Making hella songs, but they doing it for streaming purposes, or whatever they’re doing it for. We ain’t doing it for that reason. We waited a whole year, and y’all didn’t get any music from us for a whole year. So, it’s time to come back strong and heavy.

SremmLife 3 coming soon, triple disc. Nobody ever did it. Outkast hasn’t done it. They tried to compare us to Outkast. They didn’t do this. This is a triple disc.

Slim Jxmmi: Shout out to Outkast.

Swae Lee: Shout out to Outkast. No disrespect to them.

Slim Jxmmi: I would compare Swae Lee to Andre 3000.

Swae Lee: I want to work with them for sure.

Slim Jxmmi: Big Boi is a great lyricist. That’s why people say, “That’s the Big Boi of the group.” You right. I go hard and I’m low-key. I know what it is with me. I got money. I’m doing my thing.

I’m glad you mentioned streaming numbers. With all the popularity of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, and streaming being a big part of your success, do you feel there’s a possibility a streaming service could ever become a record label?

Swae Lee: Yeah

Would you ever sign to a streaming service?

Swae Lee: I would definitely fuck with the streaming services heavy. They showing love. They definitely have major pull, major power. We provide them with great music they can stream and have people gravitate towards. So, it’s a mutual thing. They’re like record labels in themselves. They generate money. They get the music out to the people. People make memberships with them. I plan on being in the game for about 45 years. Until I’m about 70, or some shit. It’s definitely a strong partnership I want to build and strengthen.

We’d do a deal.

Rae Sremmurd Sremmlife 3
Reebok
Reebok

Slim Jxmmi: I’m EarDrummers, baby. If we could do some type of side partnership that includes my people, my EarDrummers family. I’m EarDrummers, baby …

Swae Lee: We love all of the streaming services. Shout out to the streaming services. We win, y’all win. Y’all win, we win. Let’s get it.

Last question, when is Sremmlife 3 coming?

Swae Lee: The album is coming in April. It’s dropping big time. No ifs, ands, or buts. Sremmlife 3 coming your way.

Gaming

Forget easy mode. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice needs an equal mode

For many players with disabilities, there is no feeling of hope when it comes to overcoming Sekiro’s difficulty. Adding accessibility options make the game playable for everyone, and without compromising the experience.
Home Theater

Puro’s kids headphones don’t just sound great, they help prevent hearing damage

Puro Sound Labs' PuroQuiet headphones are a pair of noise-canceling over-ears that are designed for young listeners, allowing them to jam out to their favorite tunes, but limiting volume to avoid long-term hearing damage.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Smart Home

Amazon workers listening to Alexa recordings isn’t a big deal. Here’s why

Thousands of Amazon workers are reportedly listening to recorded conversations between Alexa and voice assistant speaker owners. The idea that humans are listening to our conversations is an outrage. Or is it?
Home Theater

Is Amazon making headphones to compete with the Apple’s AirPods?

Amazon is reportedly working on a pair of Alexa-enabled true wireless headphones to compete with Apple's AirPods. The new true wireless model will allow people to bring Alexa with them anywhere and may come out in the fall.
Music

The best new music this week: Weyes Blood, Ages and Ages, and many more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: Ages and Ages, John Vanderslice, Kendrick Scott Oracle, Louis Cole, Shana Cleveland, Tyler Ramsey, and Weyes Blood.
Home Theater

Amazon’s Echo Link and Echo Link Amp bring hi-fi sound to Alexa’s living room

Amazon's Echo Link and Echo Link Amp are designed to bring high-fidelity sound to your Alexa ecosystem. Are they worth the significant expense over a smaller Echo speaker, and how well do they integrate into a typical hi-fi system?
Music

How to clean your records to keep them looking good and sounding sweet

Vinyl records are back in a big way, but the sound quality can suffer if you don't keep your collection clean. Check out our tips for keeping your vinyl and stylus immaculate, so you can hear every note of your favorite analog tunes.
Music

These droolworthy albums are among the most expensive vinyl records of all time

From rare Beatles originals to one-off test pressings, these are some of the most expensive vinyl records on Earth — the kind of discs that make plaid-clad record collectors and average listeners alike green with envy. Or sticker shock…
Home Theater

Keep those albums sounding great by converting your vinyl to a digital format

There are all sorts of reasons for ripping records and storing them digitally, but what's the best way to do it? We cover the different types of equipment and software available for ripping records at any price in this guide.
Emerging Tech

Even a true rock god can’t smash this unbreakable 3D-printed metal guitar

Rock stars love to smash guitars. Geeky engineers love to build things using the latest high-tech tools. What happens when both parties meet? This "unbreakable" 3D-printed metal guitar.
Home Theater

Celebrate Record Store Day in style with the best vinyl setups

From simple and affordable to sleek and swanky, these are our recommendations for incredible vinyl setups that will allow you to listen to your favorite records with outstanding fidelity and take your collection to the next level.
Home Theater

Record Store Day is here! Here's how to build a killer vinyl collection

Feeling the vinyl vibe? You're not alone. If you're interested in starting your own record collection and listening to tunes the analog way, we're here to help. This guide will take you through everything you need to know.
Music

Amazon rumored to be launching free music-streaming service

Rumors are swirling that Amazon is planning to take on Spotify by launching its own free, ad-supported music streaming service. This seems to be a move aimed at Echo users in particular.