Review Summary: RiFF RAFF and Dame Grease bring the rice out on Hologram Panda.
RiFF RAFF is a polerizing entity, not just in terms of his music, but in the entierty of his being. This being the case, you either think: that he is a genius, that he is the worst thing to ever happen to the rap game, or you have no idea who he is. If you are amomg the latter of those options, it wont take long for you to decide which extreme of the spectrum he represents in your eyes. He is as much art as he is rap, purely because he pushes the boundries of what could be considered “music”.
For those who are already fans of THE NEON iCON, this mixtape will not disapoint, Mr Highroller brings the rice out like a backyard asian cook-out. His lyrical style has remained, for the most part, unchainged. He is still dropping word salad stream of conscious though over diverse beats that leave most trying to figure out what the hell was just said.
The mixtape opens with “PANOMERA 911”, im not sure what that means, a reference to pan american flights crashing into the twin towers in 2001? Or is it mean to be a offkilter pronunciation of panorama, like, there are cops all around me? I have no idea, but it is really fun to say. Being one of the few tracks not produced by Dame Grease (it was produced by Mike Jerz) it stands out a bit. RiFF RAFF himself is a bit of a letdown, being outshined by guest rapper B.A.R.S. Murre, but still manages to drop a both absurd and brilliant punch line, “I can pull a hamstring, soccer doctor.” Which is basically saying, pull a hamstring aka pulling your leg aka joking. Soccer doctors examine and pull hamstrings, he is one to joke around.
Dame Grease does good by RiFF with production ranging from playful guitar licks on “TiGER BEAR GARGOYLE” to trap synths in “GOiN' HAMiLTON” to an almost uneasy violin melody on “i CAN TELL STORiES”. Unfortunatly, Grease’s prowess as a producer overshadows RiFF at points, the most prominent example being “VERSACE LiES”. The beat is all dark gritty piano, dance drums, and heavy handed use of filters and phasers. It just doesn’t fit well with his light and goofy style. The only other misstep concerning production was letting SK The Hit Man do anything, both of his contributions are absolutley horrible, “CHARGERS” and “TRAPPiN’ LiKE A FOOL” being the only bad songs on an otherwise great lineup.
My personal favorite verse on the whole mixtape comes from “GOT THEM MAD”, which is sadly the only verse on the song, which is a huge waste. The bulk of the 2:43 long song is just RiFF RAFF saying “got them mad ‘cause im doin a lil somethin, got them mad ‘cause im doin a lil stuntin”. But when the verse drops, it drops hard. With outlandish boasts like “I can sneeze, I can change the breeze to winter season” and “And I work the wood like a log cabin/All this rice I brought I should have bought a china cabinet”.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed HOLOGRAM PANDA, it gave me exactaly what I wanted, RiFF RAFF spitting lines that seem cryptic nonsense at first glance, but turn out to be tightly woven metaphors and similes upon closer examination. It isnt perfect, but very few things are, especially when the artist in question has a drive to put out new material second only to Gucci Mane (RiFF RAFF put out over 90 original music videos in the last year alone).
So my final verdict on RiFF RAFF’s first true release while under Diplo’s Mad Decent label? A must listen. But be warned, it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’ve never listened to RiFF RAFF before, you’ll listen to one of his songs, and be horribly confused with the youtube coments proclaiming him a genuis. Then you’ll watch another music video and ask yourself “wait, why am I still watching this guy? This is insane.” But then you will watch that third music video or listen to that third song, and you will rise from your computer and proclaim “iM FiNNA BriNG THE RiCE OUT!!!”