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Meaning of the song ‘Not So Bad’ by ‘Rae Sremmurd’

Released: 2023

“Not So Bad (Lean’s Gone Cold)” by Rae Sremmurd is rife with self-reflection, as the dynamic duo broods on their journey from humble beginnings to worldwide acclaim, while confronting their dependency on ‘lean’. They use hip-hop’s intricate storytelling to explore the complexities of success, alienation, and substance reliance.

The first verse starts with the mention of ‘lean’. It’s a slang term for a dangerous, illicit beverage made of codeine cough syrup, soda, and sometimes hard candy. Rae Sremmurd metaphorically claim that their “lean’s gone cold”, suggesting they are questioning their dependence on it. They talk about “three-point-five clouds” blurring their window – a reference to weed (3.5 grams being a typical quantity) and how it’s clouding their judgement. The “racks stacked up too tall” could be about money piling up, which often becomes the wallpaper to many successful musicians’ self-doubt and the root of their substance abuse.

Yet poignant self-awareness underlies the chorus. The line “it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad at all” could reflect them consciously choosing to focus on their achievements rather than their struggles. As they navigate through fame, it’s realized that the money and recognition don’t necessarily bring happiness, yet they provide a sense of validation and purpose that’s hard to ignore.

In the second verse, Rae Sremmurd presents themselves as self-made, driven individuals. They recall the time when they had nothing: “you ain’t know me at the bottom”. Here, they are stating that they came from humble beginnings and made it to the top through their own efforts, always having faith in themselves. Asserting “you won’t see me when I shine” signifies their desire to share their success only with those who were there during their struggle and perhaps a larger commentary on the superficiality of fame.

The song concludes with the chorus, reprising the theme of struggle contrasted with success. Overall, Rae Sremmurd presents a portrayal of fame that’s neither wholly negative nor positive. They relate their success with substance abuse and isolation, but also show resilience and ambition, promising to fight through adversity and reminding themselves that their current status isn’t “so bad”.

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