Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Rae Sremmurd, Swae Lee, Slim Jxmmi ft. Juicy J – Powerglide

“Outside the U.S. the single was credited to Wham! featring George Michael and Juicy J.”


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Crystal Leww: Rae Sremmurd breaking up is an inevitability at this point, and the artist line on this is…an odd but potentially smart strategy to introduce Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi as solo artists to the world. Thankfully, this bounces and bops enough that it might actually work! Mike WiLL and Mally Mall, two production vets known for eras of the radio that have passed, put together something here with the bpm of “Back that Azz Up” but with a dramatic ass cello featured prominently in the foreground. I’m not sure that I need Slim Jxmmi and Juicy J’s verses, but they’re fun enough and they compliment Swae Lee’s starpower rather than detract. 
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Jonathan Bradley: Are Swae Lee and Jxmmi at the point yet where they should be making Outkast-echoing solo-project triple albums? That they’ve decided they are — industry dictates aside — is kind of exciting; their ambition might outstrip their track record, but better that than the reverse. It’s what the Black Beatles should be doing, right? Rae Sremmurd are back with Mike WiLL for “Powerglide,” and his beat is a paranoid, frenetic thing that already seems more tense and claustrophobic than the carefree singles we’ve previously heard from this group. It’s as if Young Dro’s 2006 loose dance hit “Shoulder Lean” rocketed forward to the present day and accumulated some of Dro’s more nuanced later career detritus (and Three 6 Mafia’s “Side to Side”). The two Rae Sremmurds might not be able to fully justify the five-and-half minute runtime, but with a slick, gliding hook and a confident flow, they don’t sound out of their depths. Juicy J shakes off a bit of his recent seedy uncle vibe to match the mood; he mourns Lil Peep with a “I gotta slow down on them Xans” that walks the line between too flippant and too aware of the dark side of rap’s recent addiction to prescription drug talk. If I’m overrating this, it’s only because I can imagine this group becoming something that shouldn’t ever be underrated.
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Alfred Soto: The first two and a half minutes are so relentless — such an expert mix of trap and R&B smoothness and a faint sample of Three 6 Mafia’s “Side 2 Side“– that I awaited Slim and Juicy with dread. I wasn’t wrong. But damn — Swae’s got this. “Slime green paint, peanut butter inside” is one of the most striking bits of imagery I’ve heard this year.
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Ryo Miyauchi: At least rappers are now moving on to mid-2000s Three 6 Mafia after covering “Slob on My Knob” for the 20th time. Swae Lee bloats the track slightly by splitting his singing and rapping to two verses while Juicy J appears like a hanger-on rather than a stamp of approval. But “Side 2 Side” didn’t do so hot during its time, so it’s nice to see Rae Sremmurd give a modest single from Most Known Unknown an upgrade it deserves.
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Nortey Dowuona: Aight raps from Swae Lee but his hook’s too wordy to repeat. Solid raps from Slim Jxmmi (and cool shout out to Keisha Bottoms) and aightest verse from Juicy J (and cool shoutout to Lil Peep). Just generally aight.
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Anthony Easton: This seems endless, not in the turgid sense, but like a smooth loop of pleasure, enough that it just slides back into the background and you can ignore most of the dodgy lyrics. 
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Julian Axelrod: Rae Sremmurd is conducting a mad experiment to see how much Rae Sremmurd is too much Rae Sremmurd, and “Powerglide” is already way too much Rae Sremmurd. The beat is one-note tedium, like Mike WiLL found a cool loop on GarageBand and called it a day. Swae Lee’s hook is too dense to have any staying power, ignoring that all their previous refrains did much more with less. Juicy J’s verse pads out the song to an interminable five and a half minutes (their longest yet), culminating in a jarring Lil Peep shout-out that casts a pallor over the party. But the surprising bright spot is Slim Jxmmi, whose machine-gun verse bounces between authoritative aggression and youthful, voice-cracking exuberance. After hearing this, his solo album is the only thing giving me hope for SR3MM.
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