We recently had the opportunity to catch up with burgeoning hip-hop stars Rae Sremmurd to discuss what type of woman falls into their “bad” category, how they feel about the Kid n’ Play and Kriss Kross comparisons, and much more.

Rae Sremmurd and company come pouring into our offices about 45 minutes late on a slow Friday afternoon. Slim Jimmy is wearing a pair of ski goggles while his younger brother Swae Lee balances a takeaway container of food in one hand. Arriving with victuals in hand doesn’t keep the hyper energetic Swae from eyeing the assortment of snacks on one of our staffer’s desk. “Is there a smoke room?” someone asks. This is followed by a request for a changing room in which they can be styled for their photo shoot.

Still, the onslaught of questions is far from demanding and there’s none of the pretension of celebrity about either brother. They’re eager to participate in our shoot, which takes place on the office roof--a thirteen story climb accessible only by stairs. They make the hike with good humor and plenty of jokes about leaving no man behind; although their bodyguard (who is as stocky a fellow as you'd expect) is eventually left to rest before continuing the trek. On the roof, the brothers pose as if they’ve moonlighted in print modeling for years: they make silly faces; they stand side to side arms akimbo; they even take it upon themselves to climb onto an elevated section of the roof where the Empire State Building provides the ultimate pictorial backdrop. “Up like Trump, up like Trump," Slim Jimmy crows with what can only be described as unadulterated glee. Meanwhile, his brother drops an impromptu freestyle and their childhood friend records it all on his phone.

Back on solid ground their ebullient personalities don’t change. “You’re going to get a lot of good stuff” Swae assures us as we queue up the recorder. We get the distinct impression that what we will be privy to is going to be half serious and half variety show featuring the comfortable banter of two fun loving siblings.

Jokingly, we tell them that we’ve decided that the “bad bitches” they refer to in their song “No Type," are technically a type. And after a few moments of back and forth about exactly what type of woman falls into Rae Sremmurd’s “bad” category, Slim Jimmy leads the conversation in a more serious direction. “I could go on and on,” he says, “but what I’m saying is we’re not putting the image out there that all women have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful.” Both brothers acknowledge the more problematic perceptions of hip-hop music--including ideas surrounding the genre’s standards of beauty--and want their music to be a testament to the true diversity of the genre. “It’s shallow to say that there’s only one type of pretty, we don’t want that," Swae Lee says, while explaining that the concept behind the art for “No Type” was partially inspired by this point of view. The single’s official artwork is a collage of a woman who is made from the body parts of several notable celebrities; it's meant to physically illustrate that there is no singular standard of beauty.

“There’s a negative connotation sometimes when it comes to hip-hop," Swae continues. “And something you see in hip-hop culture is that everyone wants to be this certain type of person: shooting and killing people and busting heads and selling drugs. We grew up around all of that stuff and we respect it because not everyone feels like there’s a choice. It’s a part of our life, too, in a way, but we want to express life from a more positive point of view.” “Yeah,” Jimmy agrees, “what’s appealing to us is going to a party, ordering some bottles, talking to girls, making money and living life, you know?”

For two brothers who are disarmingly honest about not having it easy, they are a constant well of positivity. It is reflected in their infectiously upbeat party anthems, their interactions with others and their general outlook on life. When we ask them how they dealt with a brief period of homelessness they tell us: “We knew where we wanted to be and we knew what we had to do to get there, so we just stuck it out until we got there and avoided the negative shit. We just kept pushing.”

The push hasn't been easy. Where Atlanta (their current home base) has grown to be considered a Southern mecca of hip-hop, the small town of Tupelo, Mississippi, where the brothers formerly lived, isn't known for much outside of being the birthplace of Elvis. “I like people knowing we’re from Mississippi,” says Slim Jimmy, “it’s a place that’s hard to get out of. Not many artists get out of there because there are really no opportunities for music. Swae Lee, on the other hand, says he wants to be considered a “musical alien” of sorts. “I was always going to choose these beats no matter if I was in Australia or Antarctica," he says, interjecting over his brother's final sentence. “When I make music I’m not thinking about where I’m from, I’m thinking about how to rock this beat. I mean, I’m definitely a rapper from the South, but I don’t want to be put in a box, I don’t want to be just a Southern rapper. One thing the brothers can agree on, is that originating from a small town with it’s own distinctive cultural flavor--one they describe as “country”--enabled them to stay true to their singular identity. They’ve managed to avoid the pressures of falling into the musical profiles associated with certain larger cities simply because they weren’t in them. “Our music is just us," they say, “we’re not trying to be like anyone else, we’re not copying anyone’s flow, we just put our thoughts down and make it our own sound.”

And while it may seem as if resulting hit songs like “No Flex Zone” rose to club infamy from seemingly nowhere, the brothers history in music tells a different tale.

By the time they’d hit middle school Swae and Jimmy formed the rap trio Dem Outta St8 Boyz. The group even successfully auditioned to land a spot on BET’s 106 & Park’s “Wild Out Wednesday” and had early talks with several record labels. Later on, they would be discovered by P-Nasty of Ear Drummers Entertainment. He would eventually introduce the brothers to super producer Mike Will Made It, who is currently a mentor and someone both brothers deeply respect. “Mike Will cares about us. He’s a genuinely good person, he’s a positive person and he definitely looks out for us and gives us advice about how to move and be smart.”

It was even Mike Will’s record label, the Ear Drummers, that inspired the name Rae Sremmurd--simply Ear Drummers backwards. For our part, we were relieved we finally got to hear them say their name firsthand. Their current relationship with Mike Will and the Ear Drummers was about three years in the making, they share. In fact, it wasn’t until their second move to Atlanta that most of the music that is currently on the radio, and will be in their album, was made.

“Things have changed a lot,” Swae says. “Yeah,” Jimmy agrees, “we get love everywhere now.” Having seen the duo perform in August, before “No Flex Zone” reached its full popularity, the difference is indeed tangible. They tell us they’ve been by the New York Times already and are going to Complex next. However, they assure me that their full schedules aren’t going to stop them from going out and partying later in the evening.

“We’re just living the Sreemlife," Swae says laughing. “Is that like YOLO?," we ask. The brothers exchange bemused glances, laugh heartily, and almost in sync, they answer: “in a sense.” “Man,” says Swae after moment, “it’s really just about taking life as it comes and positive vibes. You know, just turning up, living and having a good time.”

There is a real authenticity to the pair, and suddenly, the Kid n’ Play and Kriss Kross comparisons that have come so fast and heavy, start to make sense. When we ask if it offends them, their answer is just what you’d expect. “Hell nah, they made straight bangers. Plus, in a couple years everyone will be comparing people to Rae Sremmurd.”

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