Riff Raff, Grandtheft | Concord Music Hall | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader

Riff Raff, Grandtheft All Ages Agenda Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Wed., April 16, 6 p.m. 2014

An absurdist rapper with lyrics as colorful as his clothes and his cornrows, Riff Raff won me over in 2012 with a steady stream of flashy, gonzo YouTube videos. His animated personality, inexplicably compelling non sequiturs, and mush-mouthed Houston drawl make even his least consistent tracks palatable—and his best performances shine. He owns every second of his collaboration with Chief Keef, “Cuz My Gear,” which came out a couple months before Keef signed with Interscope in 2012. Riff Raff has been pushing back the release date of his first album for Mad Decent, Neon Icon, since September of last year, as though he wants to get out of the shadow of Spring Breakers and have all the attention to himself. In Harmony Korine’s 2013 film, James Franco plays a gangsta and wannabe rapper named Alien, and he admitedly drew some inspiration for the character from Riff—who in a July interview with TMZ threatened to sue Korine and company for using his likeness (the LA Weekly couldn’t find any documents about the suit, though). It’s been more than a year since the movie’s release, and Neon Icon is finally supposed to drop late this month. The early, not-for-release version I’ve heard is so good I hope he ends up sticking with those songs. The album’s guests include Wiz Khalifa, Childish Gambino, and Mac Miller, and for what it’s worth Riff Raff outshines all those guys. He gracefully jumps from a blaring 80s beat a la Public Enemy to a chilly, minimalist ratchet track from “it” producer DJ Mustard; on a new version of the spring 2012 track “Time,” he manages to pull off a fusion of dance-pop and country, singing about his isolating ambition with disarming earnestness. And of course it wouldn’t be a Riff Raff record without seriously strange rhymes: “I don’t like to drive, Versace jeans and limousine,” he raps on “Aquaberry Dolphin.” “I could freestyle to a dolphin and a tambourine.” —Leor Galil Grandtheft opens.

Price: $18.99

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