Take RiFF RaFF's NEON iCON Seriously? Hell Yes
We used to consider RiFF RaFF a customized creation of every overzealous, hyperbolic Swishahouse freestyle that rolled off the assembly line. The jewelry, the braids, the persona that couldn't be stuffed inside of a box and needed to be constantly out there -- all of it was RiFF RaFF.
Photo courtesy of Biz3 Publicity
Let's not be completely mistaken. Every single expression about him points back to Houston. The drawl, the humorous nonsequiturs that stand out of every verse as if written in 80-point type, they all hark back to those goofy yet utterly believable freestyles where Paul Wall once told us he had a Versace skeleton.
People paint RiFF RaFF as an absurdist or a character who, now 32 years of age, couldn't be any more serious about rap as Humpty Hump or any of Kool Keith's creations. People were turned off by his Houston-stylized idiosyncrasies without doing their homework on the man. Houston rap is full of characters; remember Bushwick Bill outfitted himself as Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir once upon a time. RiFF RaFF is merely the latest one, a fully fleshed-out idea of Internet memes and self-prophecy. He's no longer in Sharpstown (or Plaza de Americas, if you want to be politically correct) hustling mixtapes, he's a damn star.
So for him to jump from mixtape rapper to major-league player, a lot of his act couldn't be considered, in his words, "middle of the mall shit." For every Versace reference or cartoonish idea that left his head, there were gems like "Bird On a Wire" and tracks where he held his own with Action Bronson. NEON iCON arrives Tuesday as the first major rap album to escape Houston's city limits in years, and maybe no local rap album outside a release from Scarface or UGK will be written about as much as this.
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