In his music and his persona, RVN, the MC/songwriter/performance-art provocateur formerly known as Raven Matthews, is an attention magnet. On his soon-to-be-released album Grey Neon he applies an itchy, narcoticized vocal delivery, alternately rapping and singing, on songs backed by spare acoustic guitar and bedroom beats, revealing a drug- and media-damaged psyche as sensitive to the ongoing horror show of modern society as his own inner turmoil and the innate perfection of the natural world. “I’m in love with everything,” he moans on “we need hints.” “I hate myself, that’s why I sing/You are beautiful to me/Beautiful to everybody.” Throughout the album, RVN is a one-man Suicide Squad, the demented bad guy turned reluctant hero that depraved, distracted America needs in order to see its true self.
For a concentrated dose of RVN’s mania, check out the video for “My God,” which City Arts is unleashing on the world today. The imagery, courtesy director Roman Rivera, is uncomfortably strange—body-paint smearing, toe-sucking, a live octopus headpiece—and matches the song’s broken beat and RVN’s introspective analysis. He begins the song with the line “Coming untethered/Let’s do it together” and somehow you do indeed wanna join him, if only to find safety in mutual madness. Clearly, RVN knows how to mediate pain and alienation with a deep-seated investment in the act of creating.