Riff Raff, Grandtheft, DeafMind
[PARTLY RAP] No one will blame you for not taking Riff Raff seriously. Many of his raps are categorically bad. He makes cringe-worthy videos of himself singing ’80s hits at karaoke bars. His obsession with image extends not only to meticulously peeled banana-themed outfits and wearing a shark-tooth grill but also to rampant social media whoring and getting the MTV logo tattooed on his neck. “Cuz My Gear” is one of Raff’s biggest and catchiest hits, but it could well become this generation’s “Ice Ice Baby.” Still, I wouldn’t bet on Raff being a one-hit quitter. Falling out of the collective consciousness is impossible when, like Raff, you keep pace with the rigorous mixtape and album-release schedule modern hip-hop requires, and far exceed your peers’ pace in video releases, Vines, Tweets, posts and interviews. And when your gimmick extends so deeply into your lifestyle—accepting the artificiality of it all without sacrificing spontaneity—the title of Raff’s forthcoming Mad Decent joint Neon Icon starts to ring true. Riff Raff isn’t a rapper, a celebrity or a walking fiasco. He’s a hustler. And more importantly, he’s an entertainer—even if it comes at the expense of quality control. MITCH LILLIE. Riff Raff plays Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., 971-230-0033, 8 pm Thursday, May 15. $20. All ages.
[MUSTARD ON DA BEAT] While everyone was convincing themselves that Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron was the second coming of good kid m.A.A.d city—spoiler alert: It’s not—YG quietly released the current frontrunner for West Coast hip-hop album of the year, My Krazy Life.
The Compton-raised artist managed to satisfy the mainstream’s present
interest in confessional storytelling as well as turn out a few of the
best piano- and flute-based bangers since 50 Cent. Songs like “Left,
Right”, “I Just Wanna Party” and the Lil Wayne-referencing “My
Nigga”—all produced by tourmate DJ Mustard—are absolutely begging to be
blasted out of bass-heavy speakers while you time-travel back to 2004 in
your DeLorean. On more narrative tracks, such as “Meet the Flockers” or
“Sorry Momma,” YG’s raspy flow breathes life into vivid tales of armed
robbery, gangland brotherhood and familial heartbreak, with all the wit
and poise of a seasoned veteran. SAM CUSUMANO. YG plays at Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., 971-230-0033, 8 pm Friday, May 16. Sold out. All ages.
Lil Jon (DJ set), Sidestep
[KING OF CRUNK] Lil Jon is a rapper the way Sid Vicious was a bass player: The qualities he brings to his chosen art form transcend common definitions of “good” and “bad.” Nothing about the way his career has unfolded could be described as “subtle,” but it has been an exercise in a particularly loud kind of minimalism: No one this side of Fox News has gotten more mileage out of monosyllabic shouting. He’s basically a human air horn, so it makes sense that, with the crunk-juice well running a bit dry as of late, he’s returned to his DJ roots. What to expect from a Lil Jon DJ set? Probably not much that you wouldn’t find at a regular Lil Jon show: chest-caving beats, college dudes incessantly yelling Chappelle’s Show references at him, and a whole lot of ludicrous energy. Also, bet on hearing the year’s greatest jock jam, “Turn Down for What,” Jon’s collaboration with French electro-bro DJ Snake, about four dozen times. MATTHEW SINGER. Lil Jon plays Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., 971-230-0033, 8 pm Saturday, May 17. 8 pm. $26.50. All ages. The official after-party is at Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave. 11 pm. $18. 21+.