The 21-year-old rapper was a relative unknown until last year, when he had guest spots on two platinum tracks: Mustard’s slick and sunny “Ballin’,” and “Racks in the Middle,” the last single Nipsey Hussle released before his tragic murder in March. (The latter won a Grammy on Sunday.)
Ricch was still in a celebratory mood on Tuesday, especially since he’s been atop the Billboard 200 for three straight weeks with “The Box.” He marked the honor by asking the crowd to put their ones in the air; they obliged with a sea of cellphone stalagmites.
The rapper bracketed his set with the No. 1 hit, giving fans two opportunities to hear the viral smash. The song’s cinematic opening and two-note squeegee synth part have helped make it a phenomenon on Gen Z’s favored social video platform, TikTok, but the song’s success owes more to Ricch’s ear for the best hooks in hip-hop. Just listen to how he elongates “lazy” and “eighties” and try not singing along, too. (It is also casually political, thanks to a couplet that finds Ricch throwing his hat in the 2020 presidential race and putting a $100,000 bounty on George Zimmerman.)
Those hooks animate the rest of his debut, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial,” which made up the majority of Ricch’s set. They’re also what makes Ricch stand out from his peers, from whom he is otherwise indistinguishable; his mutable flow sounds like he drinks from a blender full of Spotify’s RapCaviar playlist.
But unlike most of his fellow upstart rappers, Ricch has onstage charisma and performance chops. Backed by a guitarist in a balaclava, he briefly toyed with a keyboard on “Perfect Time.” His charm even sold his cornier moments, like when he prefaced songs by asking “if there’s any single ladies that want me to take them to the boom boom room” and “if you’ve ever had sex in the back seat make some noise.”
While those songs (“Boom Boom Room” and “Bacc Seat,” respectively) are more about lust than love, the latter was in the air, as well. Ricch brought up a couple he met earlier in the day for an onstage proposal; she said yes. As an engagement gift, he performed “High Fashion,” a Young Thug sound-alike with a hook that might just make it his next hit.