Riff Raff has been saying in interviews that, despite his already substantial YouTube and media presence, 2013 is really his rookie season. After dropping a ton of unofficial mixtapes and videos, this year Mad Decent will release his first proper LP titled Castles Around My Heart. Here are some of his best videos from the end of 2012 to kick off what is sure to be his biggest year yet.
In Rookie of the Year 2013 Riff is even more cryptic than usual, and more lyrical as well. I’m not sure what he’s saying on this one but I can’t stop listening.
This holiday themed track has an excellent hook and might be his best video to date. Not that Riff Raff does anything particularly special but the director and editor clearly spent a lot of time and energy playing with effects and pumping up the production value in post. Here is an article from Dazed behind-the-scenes of the impromptu video shoot. Sometimes the explicit video illustration of funny freestyle lyrics seems like dumbed-down comedy, but here it actually works nicely. Wolves.
Chop Another Rock is just another fun track with a catchy hook and a video of Riff Raff and crew going their thing, but with laser lights.
As if we needed more evidence that no one is going to be able to predict Riff’s next move, he drops Now They Mad. First of all, the song is just a repeated hook until it’s half over, and it’s still awesome. Second, his outfit. Who else in hip hop would swag out feminine running gear, a Kelly Kapowski tee shirt and then do the rap hands at the camera like he’s in his regular rap costume? Third, these other guys in the video. They look like camera crew and director types, but still. They are holding toy guns and with no affect recite the hook as they stand alongside the road. The song is excellent and the video is highly original, but to what end? More shock value than repeat value on this one.
No video, but here is one of my favorite tracks from Riff’s excellent Hologram Panda mixtape with Dame Grease.
One of the best things about Riff Raff are his interviews. This guy is a natural entertainer and comedian and he seems most in his element in the interview setting. Here are some of the highlights from his 2012 career.
The world of post-dubstep electronic music has resulted in all sorts of fun derivations. As dubstep itself loses its luster and splits into sub-genres, tastemaker Diplo and his Mad Decent label have already set their sights on the next big thing for 2012: trap. Flosstradamus, Baauer, Lunice and Diplo himself, all Mad Decent affiliates, have been leading the charge this year when it comes to gangsta-rap inspired productions with a housey, trancy, wobbley twist. With machine-gun hi-hats and bitchslap snares, there is no need for gangster rappers over trap instrumentals: these productions are violent enough on their own. Just listen to a few songs on a nice system and you’ll be scrunching your face into a mean mug and punching the air once the drop hits. Nothing is making kids get dumber this summer than trap.
DJ duo Flosstradamus have been at the head of the trap movement, after years of mixing Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka with Alice Deejay and Sandstorm in the clubs. It’s only right for their own productions to reflect the same mash-up mentality. Total Recall is an excellent demonstration of how trap and trance can make sense together. The simple “hey” vocal samples really bring it together for me.
These guys borrowed heavily from the southern rap mixtape world, so much so that they even include common Trapaholics drops on their songs as a clever reminder of their inspiration. My new favorite thing they are using is common internet sounds like “Congratulations, you won!” Kind of a jokey nod to the meta-awareness of internet culture that fuels these guys. Here’s a pretty cool Lana del Rey remix.
Their Original Don remix for Major Lazer got a ton of play this year at SXSW. People really go crazy to this one when the drop hits. Run the trap!
Baauer is another Mad Decent signee who, after his recent Jeffree’s release, has been attracting a lot of attention from trap fans. His sound is more straight hip hop, dancey-style trap, with fun sound effects punctuating his high energy beats. I absolutely love the sassy “ok” vocal samples on Dum Dum. That track is just so understated with its finger snaps and spaced out percussion; he’s definitely got a distinctive sound. Samurai has a little emotion in the sped-up r+b vocals, reminiscent of a Clicks and Whistles UK bass vibe.
Lunice has been doing trap-style dance music for awhile. His collaboration with Hudson Mowhawke as TNGHT has a couple hard trap bangers with more of a UK feel. Higher Ground uses a trombone sample that is absolutely nuts.
City Star was one of the first trap-dance songs I heard. Young UK producer Rustie blew a lot of people’s heads off when his Glass Swords album dropped last year and City Star was a big reason why.
Check out some more of my favorite trap-influenced dance songs out right now…Dayum son, where’d you find this?!?