- Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2015

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Two hours before the start of Sremm Fest, Tupelo natives Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jimmy” Brown - better known as platinum-selling rap duo Rae Sremmurd - wait backstage with no apparent signs of anxiety.

Swae Lee, 19, takes a few selfies for Snapchat. Slim Jimmy, 20, cracks up at his brother’s poses.

Their dressing room buzzes with the brothers’ youthful spirit and calm energy. The two often interrupt each other, but apologize for doing so.

From head to toe, the brothers wear designer clothes and white gold grills. Swae Lee flashes ruby-encrusted rings while Slim Jimmy points to his “Shannon Raider Red” SremmLife hoodie.

After releasing a wildly popular album - their songs “No Flex Zone” and “No Type” both rang up 1 million sales - and touring the world, they traveled back to Tupelo, where they got their start, to put on the first hip-hop festival in a city better known among music fans as Elvis Presley’s birthplace.

Plans for Sremm Fest began a year ago after the duo attended music festivals with thousands of people. They wanted to throw a festival just as big.

“We didn’t know how to do it. Then we were like, ‘Yo, remember the BancorpSouth Center?,’” Swae Lee said. “We’ve gone to these overseas festivals with 10,000 people and saw how lit it was and how crazy it is. We wanted to bring it to this city to give a little taste of our life.”

They called up rappers Yo Gotti and K Camp, along with R&B; singer/rapper Dej Loaf to come together and “turn up for Tupelo.”

And turn up, they did. Thousands of Sremm fans packed the arena Dec. 21, dancing along to the beats produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, the man who discovered the brothers’ talents in 2013.

Slim Jimmy said they plan an annual festival, creating an opportunity for new artists to showcase their skills.

When it comes to searching for the next big thing, he’s not necessarily looking for somebody with a lot of hits or well-known status.

“When I hear your song, and when I turn it off and I go take a shower, and I’m still singing that song, then I want to see what else you can do,” Slim Jimmy said. “I like to hear what’s from the bottom.”

SOMEBODY COME GET ‘EM

Swae Lee said he always knew he was going to make an impact in the hip-hop industry.

“I didn’t know if it was going to be when I was 25 or 37 or 100,” he said. “But I said, ‘I’m going to keep doing music.’ And one day, the world was going to hear me.”

Slim Jimmy knew they could make it as well, but never expected to play music internationally.

The brothers traveled all through London, Denmark and Australia, but nothing compared to the black sand beach they rested on in New Zealand.

“We’ve been around the world off one album,” he said. “Off 11 tracks, we went all the way around the world.”

The brothers started their music career humbly with a Dell computer and Fruity Loops Studio music software while they worked at a mattress factory to pay the bills.

The city of Tupelo influenced their work significantly.

“It made us hungry,” Swae Lee said. “It made us want to work. You never know what to expect from this city. But you see what it’s breeding, you know, like your Elvises and your Rae Sremmurds and all these other artists coming out.”

Slim Jimmy said there’s something different about Tupelo.

“It’s so quiet, and you just have so much space,” he said. “You have all the time in the world to just grind.”

Coming back to Tupelo, the brothers were amazed to be welcomed back with such love. Mayor Jason Shelton was giving them the key to the city, Slim Jimmy said.

“It shows we’ve come along beautifully and that this city is in a good place right now,” he said. “It’s a good time for the city right now. We’re prospering in all ways. It shows there aren’t any boundaries.”

Their mother, who still lives in Tupelo, expressed how proud she was of their success.

Before rehearsing for the show, they went to The Mall at Barnes Crossing, causing a scene as fans recognized them immediately.

THEY’RE JUST LIVIN’ LIFE

Early next year, the duo will release their second album, SremmLife 2, featuring hip-hop artists like Migos, Rihanna and Tupelo-based rappers, SremmLife Crew.

They want to start their own record label - SremmLife Crew, featuring Mississippi artists - and to start a Mississippi hip-hop movement like Atlanta’s.

“We already got this big SremmLife movement, and we’re about to make it even bigger,” Slim Jimmy said. “We got to make waves. Now, you can blow up doing music in Mississippi in a big way. Not just small. It can be anything you want it to be.”

They’re just living the SremmLife, a philosophy emblazoned in their music and style that embraces individuality.

“SremmLife is just like, doing you and living your life,” Swae Lee said. “You’re not worried about somebody else’s life. You’re just turned up and doing you and being yourself. You’re not worried about fitting in, you know, because you bring so much to the table and fit in the mix.”

___

Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide