House of Blues
August 10, 2016
There's nothing ordinary about a Riff Raff show, just as there's nothing ordinary about the man named Horst Simco from Copperfield, Texas. The G turned gent turned Neon Icon has been baffling audiences since his debut on MTV in 2009. His appearance doesn't scream "rapper"; it portrays everything else, from the wild inspiration for James Franco's Spring Breakers character, to the poster boy for the Snapchat Generation, spewing two-second quotables and wearing extravagantly colorful outfits. Anything for that like, favorite or retweet.
The music itself is not exactly thoughtful, balanced or inspirational. Some might argue that it shouldn't even be considered "music," at least not good music. But tell that to the 200 kids in the crowd at the Bronze Peacock Room inside House of Blues Wednesday night, and they would shrug or laugh in your face. All they care about is confidence, attitude and the turn-up. If it bangs, they're jammin' it.
Once GO DJ JBoss hit the stage, he began to warm up the crowd with your typical trap-rap hits and club anthems. Business as usual. And then the strangeness arrived...
The last song JBoss played before the headliner picked up the mike was the EDM smash hit "I Took a Pill In Ibiza" by Mike Posner. It made both me and the audience do a double take. Yet somehow, when a large, muscled freak of nature commands you to clap your hands and throw them in the air, you fucking do it, and enjoy yourself in the process!
Sporting an Iron Maiden tee and two tight braids, Riff Raff bounced onto the scene shining like the diamonds on his teeth. After hitting the gym for the past year, he's bulked up to look like a mini-Hulk with an icy chain swangin' from his neck.
Repetition is the name of the game, and Riff is the master. That's why the crowd was able to sing along to the newest singles from the recently released Peach Panther. The first four tracks after the intro are unimpressively similar, yet catchy as hell. "Only In America," "4 Million" and "Chris Paul" are indeed bangers. But the repetitiveness is tangible.
This is beyond #HashtagRap. This is elementary indoctrination at a wheels-on-the-bus level. Beats, lyrics and motifs circled around over and over and over. That's the signature of today's rap, which is far removed from what we call hip-hop.
An early highlight was "How to Be the Man," one of the best tracks from previous album Neon Icon. I secretly wished that Slim Thug and Paul Wall would show up for the remix, but we were surprised by a guest spot from Lil' Flip. Of course, the classics "The Way We Ball" and "I Can Do That" were met with cheers, but it was the track "Stack Paper" that Riff called his "all-time favorite" Flipperachi single. Goes to show that Riff is well-versed in the HTAHN canon.
The night ended with something new and something old. I would guess maybe ten people in that room last night know who the real Carlos Slim is, but man, were they ever yelling along to those lyrics:
It's a celebration, quinceanera!
Diamonds shining jumping out the gym,
I might move to Mexico, Carlos Slim!
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And then he hit him with the "TiP TOE WiNG iN MY JAWWDiNZ," and just like that, he was out. His bodyguard didn't even tackle anyone off the stage this time either! Like I said...nothing ordinary about this Riff Raff show.
So How Were the Openers? If you haven't already witnessed Trill Sammy and Dice Soho in concert, I advise you to do so ASAP. Their high-octane display of force is infectious and heart-pumping. They are Houston's answer to Rae Sremmurd and Odd Future, with a knack for crowd-surfing and turning up until the floor shakes. Both have very devoted fans as solo acts, but the energy they attain as a duo is astonishing. Good job, gentlemen; keep up the great work!
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. You can follow his adventures on Instagram: @MarcoFromHouston.