Riff Raff

Neon Icon

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As of 2014, it was still unclear whether Texas rapper Riff Raff was a performance artist or a ketamine casualty freakshow supernova pimped by superstar DJ Diplo. One clear opinion was that he was talentless a-hole who fed on the lowest common denominator of indie hip-hop. For that button-up crowd, Neon Icon will hold no sway, although the ever-shifting music, the endless supply of quotables, and the wonderful mashing of indie beats, oddball lyrics, ICP theatrics, and stadium-party rap hooks beats up on the "talentless" argument hard. Houston drawling like his jaw got busted over a DJ Mustard production of twerking electro, Raff paints a perfect self-portrait with "Here's the white Eddie Murphy," all while "floating through the air, Mary Poppins" in effort to show the listener "How to Be the Man" ("How to be the boss/How to come through with seven coats of gloss"). With Wiz Khalifa drifting along, "Versace Python" mixes Timberlake-on-SNL-styled sexy and the kind of pill-popping psychedelica that fuels Marijuana Deathsquads and such, then Riff and Childish Gambino team for "Lava Glaciers," a good audio guess of what UGK would sound like if the duo loved teapots and shrooms. "Maybe You Love Me" ("Hot like five saunas, my shoelaces are iguana") sounds as if it was stolen from an unheard Harmony Korine and Lady Gaga session, and somehow Mike Posner is blended into this sick and slick wormhole, and while it's nice to think that James Franco is behind it all, the deep-drilling knowledge of Honda hatchbacks, mallrats, Ralph Lauren Polo wear, and Jordans (or "Jawwdinz") suggests otherwise. A Kool Keith and Vanilla Ice mixtape, some blotter acid, and a strip club might produce the same effect, but why take the risk? With Neon Icon it's just as easy to tune in, drop out, and twerk.

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