Illustration courtesy of Creative Commons

Rae Stremmurd’s “Powerglide” slides into the Billboard 100

By Drew Matlovsky

Oh man, it’s good to have Rae Sremmurd back.

It is an understatement to say modern hip-hop is a crowded market. It is saturated with Xanax enthusiasts, lean-trotting “lil” artists and Atlanta posers trying to cash in on the trap sound — and let’s not forget about Post Malone. Hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd have always stood in front of the crowd by pure talent alone, working to carve out a distinct sound for themselves. It is softer and frankly weirder than most contemporary trap music, as they place less emphasis on conforming to the triplet meter that defines Migos and other look alikes. Production wise, Rae Sremmurd shy away from the “grunge” guitar sounds of Lil Peep and the “sizzurp” samples of Lil Yachty. They abide somewhere between all this mess of contemporary rappers, able to stay afloat on the two brothers’ chemistry alone.

Rae Sremmurd’s new single is about a Lamborghini, specifically the Powerglide two speed transmission that can be added as an aftermarket racing accessory. (Drive safe folks.) Of course, none of this matters. Rae Sremmurd’s new single is about having fun, as Swae Lee creatively rhymes “Powerglide” with “peanut butter inside,” referring to the brown leather upholstery of the car. He then tells his girl he’s going to buy her a ring with so much bling it’ll look like a snow globe. He spits many other creative rhymes and sexual innuendos that would be unprintable in a newspaper, some of which involve Hulk Hogan, diamonds and of course, strip clubs. Swae doesn’t take his verses too seriously, and it works: There’s few rappers who will toss around the phrase “peanut butter” with such confidence.

Sonically, “Powerglide” is about as smooth as the transmission it’s named after. It clocks in at over five minutes, yet it never lags for a second, constantly propelling the listener forward. It’s layered with the trademark smoothness of Rae Sremmurd, a combination of the auto-tuned vocals and slick drum production from Mike Will Made It. The heart of the song runs on a Three 6 Mafia sample of “Side 2 Side,” trading the title’s chorus for the word “Powerglide,” rolling the sample throughout the song.

As summer slowly approaches, beat the heat in your car by rolling down the windows and putting on some shades. “Ghost ride” in your 2001 Nissan Sentra to “Powerglide” and pretend you are driving a 1.5 million dollar Italian sports car. You know it is what Rae Sremmurd would want.

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