Freestyle of the Week Review: Riff Raff, “Shirts By Versace Freestyle”

The best Riff Raff cuts juxtapose his absurd lyricism with a sense of sybaritic danger; think the slow-burn smolder of “Bird on a Wire.” To that end, Kirko Bangz’s “Shirts By Versace” seemed destined for Jody Highroller appropriation, with a dreggy sound that snakes and sparkles like a Caraquenian disco ball.


Riff’s quasi-Dadist approach to bars (this comes on like gangbusters here, with the opening as follows: “Cranberry jam/ Candy lotus Lam/ I done served eight grams in a traffic jam”) makes this, if not the only diss track aimed at actor/critic/filmmaker/instructor/cognoscenti sex symbol James Franco, than certainly the most idiosyncratic. Naked shots at Alien–“I should’ve been in Spring Breakers;” “But now you wanna covet my style? James Franco,” with the latter example being a rare utilization of L.T. Smash’s “superliminal” school of communication–come careening out of the usual ball-of-bejeweled-baby-snakes that is a Riff Raff verse. The rap game Dr. Huxtable catalogues his belongings, longings, and abilities in classic fashion; he is a rapid adjective compiling machine, producing strings of gleefully bizarre objects, from Neon-canteloupe Porches to matching board short/surfboard grip ensembles.

What may at first sound like nonsense inevitably reveals itself w/Riff; once you understand that all perception is subjective, and that Riff Raff’s subjectivity is of its own, singular peculiarity, lines like “Versace braids” begin to make sense, playing both upon the company’s Medusa logo and the various byzantine curves often found upon the titular raiment. (As for the Neon-canteloupe Porsche …

Few current artists are as polarizing as Jody, perhaps because, at his best, he challenges the conventions of the form on a level deeper than content, subverting and twisting the very foundational aspects of what constitutes rap music. For an introduction, one could do worse than “Shirts by Versace Freestyle;” well balanced between being on-point and absurd, it is both easy to unpack and odd enough to revel in.


Download “Shirts By Versace Freestyle”

“Shirts By Versace Freestyle” receives a PARL

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