Rock and hip-hop have a history together. In 1986, Run DMC collaborated with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to create the highly popular rock/ rap cover “Walk This Way.” More recently, Jay-Z and Likin Park came out with Collision Course, a record of mash-ups between songs by both artists. So although new group Riot In Paris! may be misguided in stating on their myspace page that “they created a new genre of rock n’ roll influenced hip-hop!!”, at least they are occupying a niche ripe for commercial success.
Last Friday I went to see Riot in Paris! at Arlene’s Grocery in the Lower East Side. Before the concert, my background on Riot in Paris! was minimal. I knew that they are a pet project of Devo Springsteen, Grammy award winning hip-hop producer and cousin of Kanye West. Also, I was aware that they have a song called “Attack of the 5 foot hipster” which they were shooting a music video for on ipod minis.
For the show, the band consisted of main stays Pete and Mercy, the Brooklyn MCs at the center of the group, as well as a drummer, bass player, guitarist, and keyboard player. Their set list consisted of original, rock-inspired songs and sampled melodies such as an ode to Brooklyn using the riff from The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Under The Bridge”. Pete and Mercy each perform with a high level of energy and showmanship. During one of their more slow and sensual numbers, Peter brought a girl on stage and passionately serenaded her.
My impression of the group is that their songs are a bit too scattered. In an attempt to incorporate many genres, influences, and references in their music, the group loses its rock/rap identity. Yet, while their songs may currently lack a central focus, the band clearly has the talent and energy to appeal to larger audiences. Riot in Paris! may not have created the genre of rock/rap but if they hone their sound, they have to potential to gain fans of both genres.