Album Review: RiFF RaFF – Balloween

By Diana Powers, Contributor

[Neon Nation; 2016]

Rating: 6/10

Key Tracks: “Diamonds Jumping Off My Necklace,” “Fresh Pair of Robins”

RiFF RAFF is unique to say the least. After his 2009 appearance on MTV’s From G’s to Gents and his rap group Three Loco with Simon Rex and Andy Milonokis, Houston-native RiFF RAFF caught the public’s attention. His somewhat terrifying looks and blatant wealth flaunting online are just a couple signature RiFF RAFF traits that have made him into more or less of a joke. Musically, RiFF RAFF has had lots of success after his major debut Neon Icon in 2014. His fourth, somewhat Halloween-themed, studio album, Balloween, is decent, but doesn’t attempt to cover any new ground.

Almost every song on Balloween is accompanied by at least one feature. Fellow Houston natives Lil Flip and Lil Keke join RiFF RAFF on “Aqua Berry Freestyle Remix” and add some much needed life to a long, repetitive track. Lil B joins him on “Working Everyday” for a somewhat depressing verse, rapping, “Never been happy / Smile on my face, but my heart in a different place”.

“Take You Away” is heavily country-influenced and reminiscent of “Time” from his debut Neon Icon, making it a drastic departure from the rest of the album. While it’s a pretty good track, it doesn’t really mesh well with the rest of the album. 

“Diamonds Jumping Off My Necklace” and “Fresh Pair of Robins” have extremely catchy hooks. The booming bass on both tracks and fun hooks result in pretty strong tracks highlighting RiFF RAFF’s ear for memorable melodies and beats.

Lyrically, Balloween is not any different than RIFF RAFF’s past releases. Most tracks center on his wealth, which gets stale after a while. It’s unlikely his lyrics will ever be revolutionary, but there’s only so many times you can hear a person talk about their expensive lifestyle before it gets old. Balloween also falls short in its originality. The vast majority of material on Balloween has been done by other, more talented artists. After a few listens, the overall sound gets old. Tracks like “Staring At the Sun” and “Stay Away From You” are particularly bland examples that sound like so many other artists.

Balloween isn’t anything revolutionary. RiFF RAFF pretty much continues the same sound he’s had for years, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it would have been interesting to hear RiFF RAFF try something new.

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