April 30, 2012

When you spend a lot of time on the internet, certain things can seem bigger than others without bearing much relation to reality. But there’s no denying the plain fact that Chief Keef and Riff Raff, rappers who’ve slowly been building up hype for the last year, seem to be destined for a 2012 breakout. To sum it up: Keef is the add-water-for-narrative Chicago teenager living at his grandma’s house while churning out dead-eyed bangers; Raff is the half-man-half-performance-artist whose idiosyncratic style has lent itself to a copycat character in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, played by James Franco. It makes more than a lot of sense, then, that the two would appear together on a track before greater forces conspire to lure them away to bigger fields. (Keef is working with Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music; again, Raff’s got that whole art house flirtation thing going on.)

Ergo, this video for “Cuz My Gear.” (Slightly NSFW if your boss doesn’t appreciate the sight of rappers getting blunted.) Keef sounds as flatly imposing here as he does on tracks such as “I Don’t Like,” but Riff Raff’s hyperkinetic stream of consciousness flow makes it clear why he gets first billing. Lines like “On my cell phone, now I’m on my iPhone / She thought it was a cat phone / Now I’m on my bat phone” don’t make any type of linear sense except to suggest that, yeah, getting coked up before writing lyrics seems like it could be a regular state of mind for Mr. Raff. Which is not to suggest anything about his artistic process, but then again: “Teriyaki suit with the lemon Fanta,” and the way he smushes so much Southern sass into pronouncing “vampire.” At the very least, the contrast in rapping styles is its own little litmus test on one’s musical preferences.

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