That Rae Sremmurd put on a wildly animated performance this past Thursday at The Warfield should come as no surprise. For the past two years, the young sibling duo of Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jxmmi” has seized youth culture through early adoption of its trends and the subsequent trendsetting. Their vitality and charisma is unending and engrossing: Throughout Thursday’s set, Swae smashed multiple pineapples on the stage before lobbing their remains into the pit while Jxmmi drained a river’s worth of water bottles on top the crowd. Rae Sremmurd put on a show of continuous motion, with a fervent, yet idyllic belligerence befitting our cultural mood in the aftermath of the most divisive election of our time (“our” being an audience 98% between the ages of 13 and 25).
Beyond their DJ dropping YG’s new progressive national anthem “FDT” to warm up the audience (or rather, get them fired up), the brothers led the crowd in their own resounding chant of “fuck Donald Trump” early on before addressing that they wouldn’t have anything more to say about the matter for the rest of the night. Truthfully though, they wouldn’t have needed to. Rae Sremmurd’s live show is essentially a bombastic and emphatic middle finger to Trump’s vision of America — a celebration of pride earned in the face of obstinate haters who perceive others’ success as their own failure. In all its raucous, raging disobedience, Rae Sremmurd was the safest space I’d felt since Tuesday.
Most notable then was seeing the sea of white faces, many of whom bore braces upon middle-school baby faces, and knowing, in spite of the will of the electorate, that the process of cultural assimilation is still marching on in both directions. These are kids embracing the identities their parents fear, and denouncing the perspectives that would otherwise try to strip Rae Sremmurd’s message from their medium. The duo’s party-potent brash-rap is inclusive in its no-fucks-given attitude, but is ultimately an expression of their distinct background. Rae Sremmurd enshrine black excellence — the ability to not only fight back, but do better than the opposition hoping to silence and degrade them.
So when I noticed a sole face in front of me maintaining a tense silence during the collaborative cursing out of our new President-elect, I felt a bittersweet respite of satisfaction. If this kid was a Trump supporter, he’ll have this lesson endlessly beaten into him throughout the next four years: Voters aged 18-25 overwhelmingly renounced Trump this election. This kid doesn’t stand a chance of being able to enjoy entertainment with his friends over the next four years without being reminded that he’s the villain in their narrative. He can buy a ticket, whether in spite of his beliefs or in attempting to commodity an opposing culture, but this party will never be for him.
#MannequinChallenge from the dj booth #SremmLife2Tour pic.twitter.com/AMKWrFJnuk
— Mississippi!!!!! (@jay_Sremm) November 11, 2016
Ultimately, this was predominantly a crowd celebrating being young and ignorant — antagonistic to the world you occupy because in the infallible misguidance of our nation, no one truly listens to the kids. While some grieve, these few wild out. As was continuously reminded and reinforced throughout the performance: “There are no rules tonight.” For this generation that’s not a means of escapism, but the guiding mantra of youth — this world will one day be ours, and until then we’ll act in defiance like it is, anyway.