Hip-hop lives both on the streets and in the make-believe. I'm a killer, I'm a pimp, I'm a dope dealer, but really I work at Blockbuster. As the music industry continues folding in on itself, the mixtape focuses the buzz without sucking up capital. Houston rapper Riff Raff has the MTV, NBA, BET, and WorldStarHipHop logos tattooed somewhere on his body. The jury's out on whether he's serious or not. He signed to Diplo's Mad Decent on an insane eight-album deal, and now Birth of an Icon emerges as the first product of that partnership. Braided, skeevy, and pallid-white, Riff Raff thrives in reckless absurdity. "Diamonds on my neck, diamonds on my kiss/I really hate to be quaint/Questions on my Anne Frank." Riff's thematic cohort Action Bronson isn't quite as bizarre, a burly, New York chef marketing a delectably goofy take on classic hip-hop fantasies. Blue Chips finds Bronson partnered with producer Party Supplies, "Laying in the Galapagos, eating tacos, higher than an opera note." Samples straight off YouTube streams and name-checks spanning wrestlers, dirty sex, and expensive cuisine; he ain't a thug or a playboy, but the legends live in his rhymes. Fellow NYC shit-talker Meyhem Lauren spends about as much time spewing pulpy boasts as he does dropping language on Mandatory Brunch Meetings. Lauren sounds rich, lording over smoky, velvet rooms. Beats are made out of polished brass and solid gold, a perfect environment to tell the world why they ain't hot. "Now I'm sorta like your step-daddy, manicured pinky nails hopping out the red caddy." (Action Bronson: 12:20am, the North Door; Fri., 10:15pm, Viceland; Meyhem Lauren: 8:35pm, the North Door; Riff Raff: 11:25pm, Emo's; Fri., 10:15pm, Scoot Inn; Fri., 12mid, Haven)
Copyright © 2013 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.