Rae Sremmurd’s DJ, D-JaySremm, knew the duo had what it took to be superstars when they were still in high school — years before Mike WiLL Made-It knew the young artists existed. To top that off, D-JaySremm has been helping Rae Sremmurd become polished performers since their early days as hotel hell-raisers.
“We smoked in every city. We got kicked out of hotels. We had the police called to the hotels. We had fire trucks called to hotels many times,” JaySremm told REVOLT.
How did you first link up with Rae Sremmurd?
We’re from the same city. I heard about them and their music in 2008 when I was in the 12th grade. I think Swae Lee was in the 8th grade, and Slim Jxmmi was in the 10th. I told them, ‘You niggas are the shit, bro.’ I knew how we’d do this because I have a cousin in the Ear Drummers already. I told my cousin about them and it was history after that. I told my cousin about them in 2009, but everything didn’t hit until 2012.
They sang to Ear Drummer in 2013. Were you all doing live shows in the five years from when you first heard their music to when they got signed?
No. We weren’t doing anything. We had jobs and shit. All we did was party. We knew if Ear Drummers got lit, then it’s over with — and they got lit after they produced Meek Mill’s ‘Tupac Back.’ We knew the Ear Drummers would take off as soon as we heard that. The next year, he called them and said, ‘We need y’all to quit y’all jobs and come to Atlanta.’ So they quit their jobs instantly, went to Atlanta, and worked on SremmLife 1.
What do you remember about the first show you did with Rae Sremmurd?
Our first show was probably at a little radio show. I was the DJ, but it was my first time doing it on stage. It was a crazy time because we grew up together. We didn’t know anything. We just hopped on stage. We didn’t have any practice or any of that. We’ve been doing shows ever since.
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Rae Sremmurd was young when they got famous, so they probably had some wild times. I saw you all riding around on a luggage cart in a hotel while on tour.
Listen, from 2014-2017, we fucked hotels up (laughs). We wanted to have fun in these nice hotels. We never saw this shit before. We couldn’t hang out in the streets of these cities. The only thing we could do was have fun in hotels. We did that in every city. We smoked in every city. We got kicked out of hotels. We had the police called to the hotels. We had fire trucks called to hotels many times. If Swae, Jxmmi and I are together, I’ll have an instrumental on, and they’ll go crazy. I’ll take them over anybody in freestyling.
You don’t get good at performing without making mistakes. What have you all gotten better at over the years?
We got better at crowd control. No matter what crowd you put us in front of now, we know how to get the crowd’s attention. You don’t even have to know the songs, and I guarantee you’ll end up loving their songs. Swae Lee loves to talk and would do the whole show himself. Jxmmi knows how to get shit going. He knows everything. There weren’t a lot of mess-ups because they’re the best niggas on stage. I messed up at Something in the Water because I was using a new controller set. It was weird to me. I knew I would mess up because it was my first time using it. I messed up the song choice, and [Rae Sremmurd] fixed it. They were saying, ‘Everything’s good.’ They’re good performers because they make it so you don’t even know anything happened.
Have you had to pull audibles like that before?
Listen, we could have a setlist on stage; Jxmmi and Swae could be looking at the setlist the whole time. They call so many audibles during the show. It’s hard on me because I have to go and do different things. After all, it’s not going by the list anymore. It’s usually off the crowd’s vibe. I understand the audibles. You need them because if the crowd is lit, we’re going to hit an audible.
How good is your chemistry on stage with them?
They can say words, and I’ll know what songs they want to do. If Jxmmi goes, ‘All the girls, I need to see everybody going crazy … I need all the girls twerking,’ I know what song he wants to play — ‘Throw Sum Mo.’
How does a Rae Sremmurd show usually go?
It starts with ‘No Type.’ Then, the next song is ‘Come Get Her.’ Do you know how crazy that is? The next song is ‘No Flex Zone.’ The next song is ‘Look Alive.’ That song wasn’t a hit, but it still runs the show.
How much control do you have over the setlist as the DJ?
I have a big influence over it. If I tell them, ‘We need to put this song here,’ I’m pretty sure Jxmmi and Swae would be like, ‘Hell yeah.’ But I like them to have input on that list because it’s teamwork with them. I like them to work together on that. I let them do it a little bit, and I’ll look over it. But, it be lit because I know they’re going to have it lit.
What was it like being on your first headlining tour?
I think that was with Lil Yachty for the ‘SremmLife 2 Tour.’ I can’t wait until we drop this album for SremmLife 4. The ‘SremmLife 2 Tour’ had me catching the butterflies before every show. I wasn’t nervous, but you know how butterflies are. The moment I get on stage, it’s on go mode. All the nerves are gone, and I’m ready. All I need is to hear that crowd yell.
Rae Sremmurd has some of the most dedicated fans. Who would you say is the most committed?
We got this one fan who’s really dedicated. He’s in a wheelchair and knows everything about us. He and his mom love us. She brings him to all of our shows if they’re close by him. He’s a dedicated fan in a good way. His name is Albert. I talk to him daily because he has a good heart. I think he’s one of the best fans we have. He would do anything to see us. I love that.
What shows from your time with Rae Sremmurd stick out to you?
When we did Coachella in 2016. I really loved Coachella. Us doing that stamped us. It was big. We had the boss with us on stage at that show, so we had to do good. Mike WiLL Made-It was with us at the show, so we had to go crazy. I think that stamped our name.
You have been all over the world. What was it like navigating Russia?
I loved the crowds. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you what I went through with Russia. It changed my life. All of us were in the airport in Russia trying to leave. I go hand security my passport, and he instantly leaves and goes to the back for 5-10 minutes. Everybody already left, and I’m still there. This man returns and tells me, ‘You can’t leave Russia. You may never leave Russia because a page in your passport book is missing.’ I’m like, ‘How did I get inside Russia with the same passport?’ I went through so many countries without having that problem. I had to stay in Russia for almost a week trying to get my passport. I had to go to the Embassy. It was the worst, but I had an amazing time. Russia has some really good people there. It’s so pretty there. I didn’t know if I was able to get a new passport, but it all worked out.
Do Jxmmi and Swae Lee think about live shows when making songs?
Hell yeah! We got a new song coming out on SremmLife4 that I think was made for the shows. It’s a rager. I know Swae Lee was in the booth like, ‘I’m on stage right now. I need the crowd to go crazy on this song.’
What was it like doing the Something In The Water festival?
Something In The Water was a good festival, but it let us know we could do a lot better. We have to do a lot better. It was an amazing show, but we realized it’s go time now. We haven’t done festivals in so long.
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What can we expect from SremmLife 4 and the upcoming tour?
I tell everybody this is just like SremmLife 1 because it’s been so long since we dropped. So, we’ve had time to see which songs are hits. We’ve had four years to come up with amazing songs. We’ve had the ups and downs. It’s been a rocky road for us. Our fans expect us to have amazing lives because we don’t rap about the trenches. We rap about partying, but we can’t party every single day. Over the last few years, it wasn’t constant partying for us. We had a lot of deaths and other shit going on.