by Kristin Holloway
Every time I introduce a friend to the infamous rapper Riff Raff’s music, they look at me with severe confusion and sincere earnest in their eyes and ask, “Is he for real?” Of course, they’re talking about his neon dyed hair that is braided into intricate yet obnoxious designs, the MTV logo tattooed on his neck, his Bart Simpson chain (which he affectionately refers to as Iceberg Simpson), his shark teeth inspired grill, and his overall enigmatic demeanor. At first glance, Riff Raff looks like he’s still caught up in the early 2000’s Paul Wall phase of his life. He also claims to be the sole basis for James Franco’s Alien in 2012’s “Spring Breakers” (in fact, Riff Raff threatened to sue the “Spring Breakers” team for $10 million for copying his unique sense of style), and if you’ve seen his video for his most popular song “Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwdinz,” you’d be inclined to be believe him.
There’s no denying that the energetic, seemingly all id Riff Raff was made for the stage (just check out any of his interviews, music videos or Vines), but the question still remains: Is he serious or is this all an elaborate performance art piece ironically protesting our society’s preoccupied focus on excess and consumerism? Public opinion is split. Half say Riff Raff’s persona must be real because he has never broken character but the rest say that the lack of a break means that he is an incredible actor to be revered for his dedication. Others judge him for his flippant jargon and flamboyant style and deduce that he isn’t smart enough to be anything but authentic. Family members and former classmates debate that notion; however, claiming that Riff Raff was a “nerdy bookworm” growing up and has purposely deconstructed himself over the years in order to make a statement.
Riff Raff himself makes the question difficult to answer, too, because he dismisses journalists that try to divulge information about him and his upbringing with tall tales told in a serious manner (For example, when asked what his solidly middle class parents did for a living, he replied, “My mom was a pilot and my dad wrestled polar bears.”); but loves to post satirical vine videos where he mockingly proves to the camera that he is, indeed, a real boy. His lyrics are equally as useless for deciding whether or not he is serious. In the same song “How to Be the Man” he raps Teacher wanna tell me be realistic/ that b*tch tryna tell me be realistic?/ I pull up five years later in a drop top six and mark my words, I don’t need acceptance/ I’m catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.
Either way, Riff Raff is laughing all the way to the bank. A recent Instagram (Riff Raff’s username is Jodyhighroller, if you want to give him a follow) post reveals that, despite no radio airplay and little mainstream support for his latest album Neon Icon, Riff Raff is asking (and receiving) 25-40K a show. To put that in perspective, Fall Out Boy has three number one albums and charges 100-150K per performance. Maybe Riff Raff can show us how to be the man, after all.