“No Flex Zone” by Rae Sremmurd
One of the summer’s more fun rap constructions appeared this June with a video released earlier this month. Sung by two brothers who hail from Tupelo and live in Atlanta, this song has all of the bravado and gloating of boastful youth coupled with imaginative visual rendering and a simple beat that won’t leave your head; even the duo’s name reconfigured (Ear Drummers) lets you know they’re down with wordplay, though they work within an inherited narrative structured well before their spin on the scene. The song centers on everything young rappers consistently brag about—drugs, sex, a party lifestyle, smoking weed—but manages to be insouciant in its naïveté, like a bumptious puppy parading around its new bone. I would compare this, easily, to anything Miley Cyrus has done recently, in terms of overall concern and mood. The childish background melody reminds me of a music-box, while the vocal overlays scratch into it, adding some needed tension; the duo was not afraid to leave their voices scratchy and pubescent, possibly to further add a level of realism to their enterprise. Visually, the video does a great job of turning rap clichés on their heads, the main example being the literal laser-like “No Flex” zone that floats, a la Tron, around them as they sing and drive. Also, small touches like the gold vampire grill were a nice touch. Overall, the song carries with it all the joys of privileged youth, and who wants to rain on such a weird and fanciful, but somehow unique parade? Certainly not me. I’ll be turning up the dial as this summer approaches its end.
Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org