Like baseball games, movies, and the commercial holiday season, rap projects have gotten far too long.
You’ll recall that Drake’s Views spanned 20 songs; the More Life “playlist,” while more fun than Views, came in at a smooth 22. Lil Wayne, whom I love, released the sixth installment of his hallowed Dedication mixtape series on the same day as the musical Iliad that was Culture II. Four years, a book, near-retirement, and plenty of litigation over royalties had passed since Chance the Rapper got to play Mad Libs with his “biggest inspiration” on Dedication 5, and by any measure, I should have been excited for Wayne’s new-new. But Dedication 6 was a two-parter that extended over two and a half hours, and I wasn’t listening to all that shit. (Not in a single sitting anyway. To be totally transparent, I’ve left D6 and come back to it a few times since its release but have yet to finish it, like Dante’s Inferno or Infinite Jest.) It’s just that … I get the gist, you know? And I have other things to do with that time, like listening to this episode of The Hidden Brain about how brands are laying siege to my mental space.
The Monday after Culture II and D6 dropped, Mike Will Made-It announced that Rae Sremmurd’s next project would be a triple album. There will be a solo effort from each of the Sremmlets—Swae Lee’s Swaecation, Slim Jxmmi’s as yet untitled record—and their joint Sremmlife 3, or Sremmin’, or maybe SR3MM, which is what the collected artist Spotify playlist is currently titled. The sheer volume of music brings up natural questions about quality control and how much [insert commercially successful rapper] is too much. But the simple truth is that double- and triple-Godfather-length albums are happening because streaming rules as they currently exist kind of suck. The RIAA counts 10 streamed songs toward a full album download, so rap projects are, I’m sorry to say, going to remain too long for the time being. Because money and accolades.
But lo, rap is still good! A batch of three new singles popped up on the SR3MM playlist on Thursday, and while we try to locate where rap is on the axis of art and commerce, we must admit to ourselves that all three singles—yes, all three—are fye.
The first is “Powerglide,” the second SR3MM single following “T’d Up” (third if you count “Perplexing Pegasus”). It’s a song made for and probably in a strip club, which grafts the dire strings from Three 6 Mafia’s “Side 2 Side.” Swae Lee makes the words “pedicure gang, get your fingernails did” sound spiritual; Jxmmi is characteristically energetic and horny, but also says that just because a girl leaves with him, that doesn’t mean she’s a freak. And how nice of them to bring out Juicy J to pay his respects to Lil Peep while wondering aloud whether he might be doing too many pharmaceuticals.
Then Jxmmi steps out on his own for “Brxnks Truck,” a trunk-rattler that sounds like falling dollar bills hitting millennial pink sherpa. I know, that was specific and alienating. Here, have this affirmation that you can repeat into your floor mirror:
Bring out the Brinks truck, I’m young fly and iced up100-yard dash, bitch, I had to run my price upNigga boss your life up, I had to boss mine up$10,000 outfit, $100 lineup
As it happens, all of this is just build-up for “Hurt to Look,” on which Swae Lee invents the genre of pop music.
Look, a triple disc of music is an obnoxiously big ask. We can be suspicious of whether a full Slim Jxmmi solo project can sustain itself over 11 or so songs; that’s fair. But Sremmlife and Sremmlife 2 haven’t given us any reason to distrust SR3MM, and Swaecation is almost definitely going to change a few lives.
Rap projects are too long now. But time dilates in the club anyway. Might as well pop Ace of Spades like Corona.