Riff Raff at the Fine Line, 12/21/13
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen
With Alex Wiley, Allan Kingdom, and Audio Perm
Fine Line, Minneapolis
December 21, 2013
To his fans, Riff Raff isn't a mere rapper. He's a deity. This was clear as an anxious swarm of admirers braved last night's frigid 17 degree weather to form a line stretching from the Fine Line for more than an entire city block, in hopes of gaining entry to the already packed venue for what proved to be quite the hip-hop spectacle.
Opener Allan Kingdom, an eclectic hip-hop artist hailing originally from Canada and now calling the Twin Cities home, wasn't without his own fans. Local hip-hop favorite P.O.S., Ryan Olson of Marijuana Deathsquads and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver were all in attendance Saturday night to support their favorite new rapper.
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen
They described Kingdom as a talented artist, and his set obviously demonstrated their claims. Kingdom's music adheres to no single genre, and his flow was smooth, confident, and at times filled with palpable raw emotion.
Riff Raff himself walked upon the stage as if he were ascending the throne to a kingdom of spring breakers, going absolutely apeshit for their ruler. Inflated plastic dolphins and a shark hurled angrily from one side of the crowd to the other, often finding their way onstage and even landing perilously atop DJ Dolfz's gear. "What's up? I could have played for the Vikings!," Riff Raff shouted, and then popped a bottle of champagne, showering the first several rows of revelers with foam and bubbly.
A former Hibbing Community College student, Riff Raff spent a portion of his life shuffling between Houston, TX., and Duluth, MN. His career and persona have evolved considerably, first garnering national attention from an appearance on MTV's From G's to Gents, then solidifying with the alliance of himself, Simon Rex, and Andy Milonakis as the rap trio Three Loko. He has since been signed briefly to Soulja Boy's label, and is now set to release his album, Neon Icon, on powerhouse producer Diplo's label, Mad Decent. The album drops on January 28, and includes collaborations with Drake, Skrillex, and A$AP Rocky, among many others.
Photos By Anna Gulbrandsen
As Riff Raff stormed through his opening songs, a myriad of scantily-clad girls either climbed up or threw themselves upon the stage, in hopes of sharing it with the man himself for just one blissful moment. Burly security guards flanking the stage were at the ready, hurling the ladies back into the chaotic audience. Finally, Riff Raff permitted a selected few to twerk spasmodically around him. An onlooker, offended by the display of 18+ twerkery, exclaimed, "Oh, hell no!"
Victor, Riff Raff's brother, served as a hype man and back-up vocalist for the duration of the show. After the twerking girls were sent back into the crowd, Victor donned a velvet Santa Claus hat, picked up a plastic tub of melting ice, and asked, "Who wants to get the ice bucket dumped on 'em?" He then proceeded to empty the freezing contents of the tub on a cluster of fans before him. There was a collective gasp heard. After the show, when reminded that these unfortunate folks would be forced to brave below-freezing temperatures in their soaking garments, Victor smiled and remarked, "They'll be fine."
Although Rff Raff did not speak much in between songs, he did provide many nods to Minnesota sports teams. "I should'a played for the Timberwolves, I should'a played for the Vikings!," he yelled before moving into a stellar rendition of "Raiders vs. Hawks." He then finally removed the quilted pullover he had been wearing to reveal muscular arms covered in those infamous tattoos (NBA and BET logos, to start) as Victor threw what appeared to be money into the audience. Next, he ordered DJ Dolfz to pause the music for a moment, proclaiming, "Hold on, I gotta flex on it real quick," and launched into some push-ups (cue the sound of screaming girls).
Photos By Anna Gulbrandsen
The atmosphere seemed only to increase in wildness and enthusiasm throughout the entire performance. Riff Raff's small temper tantrum at the beginning of "Real Boyz" ("Oh no, we gotta start over now! ...You don't know how to do a song? I'll show you how to do a song!") only fueled their voracity, and there was a load roar of admiration after he spit the insult, "Your girlfriend lives her life on a stripper pole!," a line from "Rose Gold Stripper Pole."
Overall, each song was delivered fluidly and with precision. The apparent lyrical theme was comprised mainly of commentary concerning girls, jewelry, cars, and being an untouchable rapper. Riff Raff undoubtedly lived up to the reputation born of his persona, and was a very human version of the internet sensation that he has become. He appeared to truly enjoy feeding off of the frenzy in the room. His set ended on a high note with the song, "How to Be the Man," with the audience going absolutely berserk.
After the show, the crowd seemed lost. They stared wistfully at the stage with dazed eyes, presumably wishing desperately that their god would return for a few more songs. When the lights slowly brightened, though, sweaty bodies pushed past one another through the venue and out into the icy night.
Critic's Bias: I had never even actually listened to a Riff Raff song until the day before this show. In preparation for this review I immersed myself entirely in his internet presence. Despite my initial resistance, I then found myself joining the ranks of those holding him in such high esteem. The man is a genius, a rap game mad scientist.
The Crowd: A hot mess. Super into it.
Random Notebook Dump: "Meme come to life." Is this spring break? Where am I? "Rap Game Martha Stewart." Did he just throw money into the crowd? "Bitch I'm still flexin'" kind of sounds like "Bitch I'm still festive" -- Christmas remix. Whoa, Victor is ripped. "Diamonds twerkin' on my wrist like Miley Cyrus."
Cuz' My Gear
Dolce and Gabbana
Shoulda Played for the Hawks
Suckas Askin' Questions
Ace of Spades
How to Be the Man
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