Swae Lee: Carefree and Prospering

Some of his most popular songs over the past three years include “No Type,”  “Black Beatles,” and “Unforgettable.” Khalif Malik Ibn Shaman Brown, otherwise known as Swae Lee, has been working in the music business since he was about fourteen, and pretty soon he will become a household name. The Inglewood, California native is twenty-three years old and he began making music with his brother, Aaquil Ibinshaman Brown aka Slim Jxmmi, as well as a family friend Bobo Swae, forming the group called Dem Outta St8 Boyz.

Later, the group’s DJ, DJ Swae, put them in touch with P-Nazty, a producer for Mike Will Made It’s record label, EarDrummers. Shortly after Swae turned eighteen, he, his brother, and DJ Swae moved to Atlanta, where Swae began observing and experimenting with the more professional side of the music business. Unfortunately, after a while, they ran out of money and had to move back home, causing Dem Outta St8 Boyz to disperse.

This year sparked the beginning of Swae Lee establishing himself separately from the group, being featured on singles like “Drinks On Us” with Future and The Weeknd, “Burn Slow” with Wiz Khalifa, and “Nightcrawler” with Travis Scott and Chief Keef. In 2016, he was featured on tracks like “Yacht Master” by 2 Chainz and “Ball Out The Lot” by Bobo Swae. It was in this year that Swae got his first co-producer credit with “Pussy Print” by Gucci Mane featuring Kanye West. He also achieved a major feat, having written the hook for Beyonce’s “Formation.” “I make a lot of songs, so I’m just thinking that this is another song. A couple months later, Mike tells me that Beyoncé wants it. I couldn’t imagine!” Swae reveals in a Fader interview.

Having the “Formation” writing credit earned Swae the Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award nomination, from the Soul Train Music Awards. He also co-wrote Nicki Minaj’s “Black Barbies” in 2016. Rae Sremmurd’s second album SremmLife 2 was released in 2016, earning them their first number one single on Billboard Hot 100 with “Black Beatles.” Swae’s solo features really picked up in 2017, being featured on Jhene Aiko’s “Sativa,” French Montana’s “Unforgettable,” 2 Chainz’s “Poor Fool,” “Big Sean’s “Reason,” and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Don’t Judge Me.” In this year, Swae received an MTVU Woodie Award nomination for songwriter of the year, along with a Song of the Year Grammy nomination for “Formation.”

Swae Lee’s most recent single “Hurt to Look” was released in February 2018 in anticipation of his solo album. Although the brothers will be working on separate projects, they have no plans to split up their group. “When we say solo projects, we say chances for the fans to get to see us individually. But we’re still Sremmed out,” Swae says in an interview with Complex Magazine.

According to Genius Media Group, Rae Sremmurd’s third album, SremmLife 3, is set to release in April 2018. The album will be a triple-disk album containing the duo’s album, Swae’s solo album Swaecation, and Jxmmi’s solo album Jxmtroduction.

Swae Lee’s constant push for a carefree lifestyle and making the best out of life separates him from other artists, in that he doesn’t typically cover complex social issues, but rather embraces the good side of life. He does this not only in his lyrics, but also with his beats. “We were just the niggas that took interest in music. I didn’t really understand what being famous was. But I saw myself just turnt. Being successful.” Swae comments in the Fader interview. He represents a new generation of musicians making feel good music during hard times.

-Ariel Brown