Sunday 26 June 2016

Review of 'Peach Panther' by Riff Raff

Houston rapper Riff Raff has always been an utter goofball. But he was once a goofball aware of his own ridiculousness. Now it seems, Riff Raff genuinely thinks he’s an amazing rapper, which is a worry for us all.

Back in 2014, Riff Raff delivered his debut album Neon Icon, which saw him declaring himself as ‘the white Gucci Mane with a spray tan’ and dropping nonsensical rhymes like ‘dyslexic in a four door mango lexus’. Riff Raff knew he wasn’t a poet and embraced this, like a bad b-movie revelling in its bad acting and awful CGI.   

By contrast, the rapper’s latest instalment Peach Panther essentially feels like the makers of Sharknado attempting a serious movie. In fact it almost makes me question whether Riff Raff was ever an intentional joke.

Limiting the subject matter to five things, Peach Panther sees Riff Raff rambling exclusively about his love of codeine, his love of Versace, the diamonds on his wrist, how much money he has, all interspersed with a few references to martial arts. There are no random displays of madness, no head-scratching skits about the moon or curious lines like ‘rap game Uncle Ben pulling rice out of the oven’. Other than a creepy song about a quinceanera (a fifteenth birthday party celebration for girls in Spain), his topics seem to run in circles so that the whole album feels like an endless trip on a hamster wheel.

This is made worse by the fact that Riff Raff’s arrogance now seems real and Kanye-sized. The song '4 Million' sees the rapper boasting about how he made 4 million dollars last year. Indeed bragging can sometimes come across as funny when it's done ironically, but here Riff Raff simply comes across as douchey and a bit annoying like the kid at school that won't stop showing off their new bike.

In the end the most likable aspect of this album turns out to be the beats, and even these are nowhere near as exciting as on Neon Icon. Drawing from a similarly narrow scope as the lyrics, the instrumentals are all hefty trap numbers, and whilst some such as ‘Mercedes’ have some seismic enough bass to leave a mark, they can’t quite distract from the hamster wheel effect.

All in all, creativity is what’s missing from Peach Panther, the track ‘I Don’t Like To Think’ perfectly summing up the songwriting process. Riff Raff has become the most shallow and predictable trap rapper possible, continuing to push his clownish image but leaving behind the clownish musicianship that made him so interesting.