Blueface Credit: Ramon Piquero

I can’t blame anyone for holding off on listening to LA rapper Johnathan Porter, better known as Blueface, whose rapid ascent has girdled his image with “industry plant” insults, and whose viral celebrity eclipses the music he’s ridden to fame. Just over a year ago, he had only one mixtape under his belt, but he’s already realized that marketing his personality was more important for building a fan base than how many releases he put out—and since then, he’s gone from total obscurity to having enough buzz to tour in major venues. As he recently told the New York Times, his Instagram savvy and troll-like flair for getting a rise out of rap fans did more for his career than his artistry: “Getting to this point probably took about 25 percent music.” Blueface’s great strength as a rapper is his unpredictability. No two flows on his June mixtape, Famous Cryp (5th Amendment Entertainment/Entertainment One U.S.), sound alike. At times Blueface seems sounds downright deaf to the instrumental in front of him—though he plays off these performances with a cool confidence that suggests the only beat worth following is the one in his head. But when he finds a spark, he can be unstoppable—as he is on the the minimal “Thotiana,” which has become such a massive hit that I’ve noticed people crediting Blueface for inventing the titular term, erasing the five or so years it’s been incubating in Chicago hip-hop culture. His oddball flow often goes sideways, but no matter how bad it gets, it’s always memorable. More than most emerging rappers, Blueface understands that the only thing worse than a bad performance is being forgettable.   v