Photo: Marco Torres/Houston Press

I have an appreciation for being absolutely curious about music phenomenas. A lot of it can be attributed to Tumblr, Twitter and the casual conversations I have with friends and others just roll around in the same ball of being somebody who obviously thinks way too damn much about simple things.

RiFF RaFF should be simple but he isn’t. He’s an amalgamation, a dash of cartoon absurdity with the flow of Li’l Mario from Swishahosue. He’s sloppy and spellbinding, aloof and aware almost at the same time. It became quite evident through my time parked somewhere away from the hipster heavy crowd at Fitzgerald’s that RiFF RaFF was a real thing – and had a crowd of twentysomethings rowdy enough to join in on the fun.

I’d like to believe most of them are in on the joke, that they came solely to be part of the circus that kicked off with the rapper strolling out in a Batman jersey, an oversided chain bedazzled with diamonds, rapping alongside “Big Ballin’ Shot Callin” by Swishahouse blaring from the speakers and a bottle of champagne in his hand. It’s quite clear where RiFF RaFF gained his influences, that laid back metronome flow is Houston up and down, Swishahouse especially. He popped the bottle and flung alcohol into the air as if he was celebrating a fictitious title, calming a crowd who pretty much were ready to kill impromptu host Adam Rapp, BBC and DJ iPod Ammo for even trying to quell them. First came boos, then loud, clear “fuck you chants” before bottles started getting tossed.

To them, the grandeur of RiFF RaFF is almost the same as a Wu-Tang concert back in the ’90s, maybe even more dangerous.

“JODY! JODY! JODY!” the crowd chanted in different intervals of the night, first during Ill Liad’s clear and crisp opening set and swelling during Franchise N Yung’s absolutely rowdy portion. They brought up a ton of friends who couldn’t help but adhere to the idea of “turn up”. Shirtless guys, guys with full goatee’s and straight back braids on a RiFF RaFF starter kit. You imagine it, FNY brought them. Flipping punchlines, trading barbs with one another. Whatever magic they reached into to look like superstars for a night absolutely worked. Fat Tony on the other hand, needs no magic. He could go for an hour or so, rolling off hits from RABDARGAB or his Double Dragon mixtape with Tom Cruz and kill it, continuing to drop meme worthy lines left and right. It used to be “buy my shit!” Now?

“I can’t see me coming out of her thighs, so I gotta make her man cry.” Sheer brilliance.

There was no need for tears with The Mighty D-Risha. Rage Against The Machine covers, employment of Dirty & Nasty as his hypemen along with a live drummer – almost seemed like he was overcompensating for things. As great a straightforward rapper he is, being memorable is what he was going for here. So much chaos usually turns into a shit performance. Yet, D-Risha flipped “Whoo!” and “Ebonics” to cheers and once more sticking to his own idea of Houston authenticity.

Hollywood FLOSS might have done his own version of the “Harlem Shake” during his set along with Kidd The Great but no show could topple what Jody HighRoller could come up with. He tossed rice into the crowd as if we were here for his wedding, the sheer marriage of his near three decades on earth going by so many different aliases that either he found salvation through this character of his or was simply born into it.

I think he was born into it, pausing an entire show just to keep a second fight from breaking out in the rowdy crowd. “Ain’t no fighting at my shows, that shit don’t impress nobody!” The first he obviously missed as two guys decided to make the RiFF RaFF show the soundtrack to a round of Street Fighter. I could never imagine getting into a fight with “Deion Sandals” or “Jose Canseco” or even “Bird On A Wire” as backing music but when you’re in the house of the man who shook dice with Larry Bird in Barecelona, anything goes.

Even if you still might come away confused as hell.

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