Heard of Rae Sremmurd? You will. Play the video below. A few months ago my wife was listening to some crap by a hip hop duo who thought it would be clever to name themselves “Ear Drummers” spelled backwards.
I was doing competitive analysis for a client with that damn song droning at 20% volume and penetrating my psyche like an alien parasite. Such bad music. Bad. Bad.
The next day I embarrassed myself by humming the song, and promptly flinched. I looked around. No one heard. Soon enough I succumbed and I pulled that filthy song up on YouTube. Had to get the poison out of my system.
Annnnnd here we are weeks later. I love the song. I delight in its slow, confident rapping, the casual and carefree dancing, the reverb and other subtle sound designs, the warm color palette in the video. It evokes memories of summer vacation, no rush, no plans, just peace and freedom. Like Lana Del Rey but hip hop.
Rae Sremmurd are just breaking into stardom. In September (just 4 months ago) the above video had 708,280 views. Now it has 91,000,000.
Then my wife started listening to this song:
Fine, you can hate their genre, personalities, style, messaging…. but you can’t deny that they’ve got the formula for catchy tunes and beats perfected. I dare you to listen to Up Like Trump three times in a row. I guarantee that within an hour that your tiny ear gear mechanisms will be laboring to decode the mumbly lyrics. The song will be hooked deep into your auditory cortex with barbed talons. You will be a convert.
Opinions Aside, Here’s Objective Analysis From a Futurist
There are a 10-15 solid indicators that inform my prediction that Rae Sremmurd will become superstars. I won’t give away all my secrets (unless you want to hire me, and, you know, hand over the $$$ to utilize my techniques), but I’ll explain a few of the indicators for free:
- Juvenile vs non-juvenile juxtaposition. They sound young but they’re sure as hell rapping about adult topics—and you know they learned it all through firsthand experience. The juxtaposition between juvenile/non-juvenile lyrics and lifestyle will intrigue and confuse you. It will compel your brain to decode this anomaly. Your brain doesn’t give a damn if you hate or love Rae Sremmurd; it just cares how often you think about Rae Sremmurd. Do it a lot and eventually your brain will choose without your permission that you enjoy Rae Sremmurd. Familiarity is correlated with enjoyment, particularly when it comes to new music. Here’s another amusing demonstration of how familiarity breeds enjoyment: Why We Like Our Own Farts.
- Unprecedented, unique voices and rapping style. High-pitched, pre-pubescent, scratchy. I can’t think of anyone else with voices like either of these brothers. And their rhythms are so dynamic…. slow, very slow, fast, slow. And so much energy! Dynamism = catchy and cool.
- Abrnomally active comments. Sure, many comments are negative (“Wow this is horrible. No wonder society is fucked. Listen to this garbage,”) but that’s not a problem and here’s why. Sometimes vehemently negative commentors will transform into devoted supporters. Why? Because negative comments don’t actually always arise from negative opinions; they can also be manifestations of the transition itself; symptoms from the throes of moving from one reality (“Ew, this is weird and unfamiliar music”) into a new one (“Hey, this music is growing on me.”) In doing Comment Sentiment Analysis, where we look close at comments to gauge public response, we use all kinds of metrics including the ratio of negative comments to positive comments, the intensity of the comments, the ratio of comments to views, and the ratio of comment replies to comments. I did some preliminary glancing through Rae Sremmurd’s video and……….. my Comment Sentiment Analysis is screaming at me: pay attention because these guys will be huge.
- Larger than life personalities. Their powerful, consistent, polished personalities are cohesive with their clothing and music. It all fits. These guys are destined to be stars.
- Other thought-provoking juxtapositions. Rae Sremmurd shatter your preconceived notions. They bother your brain, like a mental splinter or a sore tooth. But it’s precisely these genre-bending juxtapositions which catalyze the superstardom magic. When was the last time you saw Batman or ferris wheels in a hip hop song? Isn’t this music video orders of magnitude more memorable than, say, one about gangs, guns, hydraulics, bitches n hoes, and asses like bookshelves? BATMAN! IN A HIP HOP SONG! This quirkiness is why Rae Sremmurd will be superstars. Lady Gaga utilized quirkiness to the same effect.
So What Are They Up to Now? Piggybacking on Minaj. A potentially dangerous strategy.
Yeah they’re getting big. They were just featured in Rolling Stone.
Also, Nicki Minaj took them under her wing and they made a new song together. Unfortunately this collaboration is mediocre, formulaic bullshit, simply because it lacks what makes Rae Sremmurd special. Did Nicki assert her power and direct the song? Who knows. But Rae Sremmurd definitely would have been better off not partnering with Nicki Minaj at all. They should have continued to build their own following like Macklemore.
Sure, piggybacking on Usher worked for Bieber, but definitely not for Mikky Ekko (who was overshadowed by Rihanna in “Stay”)—which, sidenote, is incredibly sad since Mikky Ekko is absurdly talented…. light years beyond Bieber. Partnering with an established superstar can be a risky strategy, and Rae Sremmurd shouldn’t have gone with Minaj. But I still don’t think that will stop them from becoming superstars. The momentum is huge.
These brothers have over-the-top personalities, quirky music that is undeniably catchy, and they’re catching on like wildfire. They’ll be superstars within a year.