Modern hip-hop has become one of the world’s most popular genres of music, giving rise to new acts that have made a splash in the genre. One of them is the duo, Rae Sremmurd, who stormed onto the scene in 2014 with the track, No Flex Zone. The song was produced by the superstar producer Mike Will Made-It, and it created so much buzz, enough for established acts like Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj to record their remixes to the hit song.
This is the story of Rae Sremmurd’s beginnings, their career so far, and the tragedy that has defined their public life.
Who is Rae Sremmurd?
Because their stage name looks like the name of an individual, casual music fans might not know they are a duo. Rae Sremmurd consists of two people, brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee.
Slim Jxmmi is the older of the two and was born on the 29th of December 1993. His real name is Aaquil Iben Shamon Brown. The younger brother and more popular act, Swae Lee, was born on the 7th of June, 1995. His real name is Khalif Malik Ibn Shamon Brown.
Both brothers were born in Whittier, California, to Bernadette Walker. They have a third sibling named Michael. As for their father, his identity remains a mystery because he abandoned the family a couple of years after they were born.
Their mother worked in the Army and as a result, the family spent their childhood moving a lot from state to state. The family briefly settled in Fort Hood, Texas, giving the brothers a chance to build a life, including learning how to write music together. When Swae Lee, the younger brother, was ten years old, he began learning music production on the popular software, Fruity Loops.
Eventually, their mother left the army and the Brown family settled in Tupelo, Mississippi. They secured housing in the Ida Street housing projects, moving in with their new stepfather. At this time, the brothers were introduced to the difficult life of living in the projects, especially through their stepfather, Floyd Sullivan, who was a drug dealer.
The Rocky Road to Fame
They started making music in their mother’s basement while still in high school, writing their songs and making their beats. Later, they started a hip-hop band, Dem Outta ST8 Boyz, with a Jemiah Middlebrooks. Using the money they made from their part-time jobs, they produced and released their songs along with videos on social media.
After their mother and stepfather parted ways, Rae Sremmurd intensified their music development, a move that caused a rift with their mother. The brothers abandoned school, and their mother, against their decision and the reason, kicked them out of the house.
As Dem Outta ST8 Boyz, they released their first single, Party Animal, in 2010. The single enjoyed local success and earned them playtime on local radios and festivals. As the years passed and they gained exposure with appearances on the BET show, 106 & Park, Dem Outta ST8 Boyz grew in popularity. They released a couple of projects, including a mixtape, Three Stooges Mixtape, in 2012.
Following financial and personal challenges that temporarily dissolved the group, Dem Outta ST8 Boyz regrouped and moved to Georgia. They quickly drew attention in the Atlanta hip-hop scene and were signed by the famous producer, Mike Will Made-It, to Made-It Mafia.
Shortly after they were signed to the label, one of the group’s members, King Dre, left the group, leaving just the Brown brothers. They decided to rename the group – Rae Sremmurd and took up the stage names – Slim Jxmmi by Aaquil and Swae lee by Khalif.
Their first promotional single, We, as Rae Sremmurd, was released under Mike Will Made-It’s mixtape, #MikeWiLLBeenTriLL. With growing attention to their music and increased airplay on the radio, they released their first official single, No Flex Zone.
Finding Musical Success
No Flex Zone quickly became a lightning rod for Rae Sremmurd’s success. The 2014 song entered the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 36 and marking the first official success of the duo. The song sold more than two million copies and charted in other music markets like Canada and Belgium.
Their second single, No Type, equally went viral. It peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than 4.3 million copies. Its video, released on YouTube, was watched more than 750 million times.
With two successful singles under their belt, Rae Sremmurd recorded and released their debut album, SremmLife. The album was critically and commercially successful. It debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and has sold more than one million copies.
Since they released their first album, they have dropped two more, including a third, SremmLife 4, scheduled for release in 2020. They have also released other hit singles, such as the 2016 hit song, Black Beatles, which sold more than 11 million copies and peaked at No. 1 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Rae Sremmurd’s successful career also includes multiple awards from the Billboard Music Awards, BET Hip Hop Awards, BET Awards. They also have their record label, SremmLife Crew Records, founded in 2016. The label consists of music acts like the Brown brothers, Impxct, Riff 3x, and Bobo Swae.
What Happened to Rae Sremmurd’s Stepfather?
On the 7th of January, 2020, news broke that Rae Sremmurd had lost their stepfather, Floyd Sullivan. According to the report, he got shot multiple times the previous day. A preliminary investigation made their half brother, Michael Sullivan, a person of interest in the shooting. Michael, who has a mental illness, was arrested as a prime suspect for the murder.
Michael Sullivan is one of two half brothers shared by Rae Sremmurd. The second is Floyd Sullivan, Jr., who was born to their mother and stepfather.