Rae Sremmurd operates on only two modes: lit and extremely lit. Usually, they stick closer to the second. Closing out the SXSW Eardrummers Takeover at ACL Live on Friday night, which also featured their producer Mike Will Made It showcasing acts from his Eardrummers label, Rae Sremmurd proved they’re pop phenoms in their own right, even if they left the crowd wanting a lot more.
A year and a half on, “Black Beatles” is still their crowning achievement, restructuring rock swagger into trap bravado. It easily got the best response from the crowd, which jumped and moshed like rap and rock were never separate to begin with. They even encouraged mosh pits at one point, further dissolving the divide. “T’d Up” proved that “Beatles’” success wasn’t a fluke, that they’ve got bangers for ages. It may not have been quite the revelation “Beatles” was, yet there’s hardly anything else on the radio as catchy.
Their next record, which is scheduled to release next month, will be a triple album, two-thirds of which will effectively be solo albums, ala Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee did mini solo sets, with the former coming out swinging with the bumping “Brxnks Truck” and the latter displaying a slower, more future R&B sound with “Hurt to Look.” Swae Lee had the slight advantage, if only because “Unforgettable” was one of last year’s biggest hits. (He also had the upper hand on style, with a full orange camo ensemble.) They work so well as a duo because of their differences, with Slim Jxmmi working within the hard trap archetype, albeit a lot flashier, and Swae Lee the more pop-minded of the two.
Rae Sremmurd’s set was the juiciest morsel that took a bit too long to get to and wasn’t entirely filling, not even making it a half hour. Mike Will Made It struck gold by signing them, and his production set the template for Modern Atlanta, yet the rest of the Eardrummers lineup, featuring Andrea, B.A., and Eearz, didn’t really bring their own styles to the table. Granted, it’s hard to be even half as charismatic as Rae Sremmurd — why not hurry up and give the people what they waited for?
“No Type” didn’t feel like a closer, as it was followed by more Eardrummers and most everyone left rather abruptly. No “No Flex Zone,” the song that set them on their path, and no “Perplexing Pegasus,” the real “Beatles” successor, was disappointing, despite a strong performance otherwise. Mike Will Made It does know how to entertain, though: next to Rae Sremmurd’s set, the crowd ate up him playing Houston rap classics like Lil Troy’s “Wanna Be A Baller” (a cheat code to get any Texas crowd dancing) and Mike Jones’ “Flossin’.” And any night with those and “Black Beatles” is guaranteed to be, at the very least, a night to remember.