Everyone has an opinion on this guy, and we were incredibly skeptical about a major label debut from the candy paint enthusiast/From G’s To Gents reality show alumnus/all-together ridiculous human that is Riff Raff. But for the most part, “Jody Highroller” goes pretty hard on NEON iCON, with a surprisingly aggressive lyrical attack over big-production tracks from the likes of Diplo, Harry Fraud, DJ Mustard and more. This debut is sure to secure his place as the ‘hipster-hop’ king.
The album opens with an obnoxious skit, featuring two frat boys talking about how they don’t even like rap – but they mess with Riff Raff because he’s the man and whatnot. This again worried us as to what was to come, but to our surprise “Introduction to the Icon” is actually one of the best tracks on this album. After the skit, Riff blasts off with his rapid-fire, country-twang flow. The content of course leans towards typical ignorant subject matter, but we would be disappointed if anything less blared from our speakers.
Overall, Riff lets the world know he’s here to play the role his name implies, but you’re going to enjoy being along for the ride.
The album jumps from song to song, exploring practically every genre. At times, Riff reaches beyond both his comfort zone and the listener’s pallet. “Time” is basically an entire country music song, with Riff rapping the verses and singing the hook. Although we applaud the effort to do something different, this one could’ve been left off. “VIP Pass to My Heart”, which sounds like it was ripped from Chromeo, is another complete miss (although we obviously applaud the ignorant title). “Lava Glaciers” (this album is full of amazing song titles) could have been a great song if they didn’t decide to let Childish Gambino get on it.
Despite a few fumbles, the rest of iCON is pretty phat — in the way that Kid Rock’s debut album was phat. There’s a few obvious hits such as his single “How to be the Man” and “Versace Python”, where we get exactly what we all expect: bouncy beats and braggadocios flows about braids, zig-zagged facial hair, clothing, cars and women. Other standouts include the Diplo-produced “Cool it Down,” and the big surprise for us — “Kokayne”, where it sounds like Diplo served up a pop-punk-hip-hop ballad that — even as we’re describing it, sounds horrible to us — but somehow comes together.
Overall, Riff lets the world know he’s here to play the role his name implies, but you’re going to enjoy being along for the ride. If you can’t laugh at yourself you’re not going to enjoy NEON iCON, essentially a full album exploring an over-the-top character actor. But if you can lighten up, there’s a lot of vivid, entertaining, and surprisingly cohesive content here (the production is on point, too).
Mr. Raff, we look forward to your future endeavors, and more tales of bisexual mermaids.
Best Beat: “Versace Python”, but “How to be the Man” is a close 2nd.
Best Verse: “Used to move ounces through my counselor’s office / 8 ball in my back pocket, but I do not play pool /
I play by the pool / Ten “10” babes drool / While I lay by the old man, just working on my skin tone /
The fuck you want? Respect from the Butterscotch boss? / When I floss – rap game Randy Moss / In the cotton candy Buick sittin’ on Brazilian gloss.”
This should give you an idea of Riff Raff’s insanity. Our favorite quote is exclaimed as the music cuts out — “I could freestyle to a dolphin and a tambourine!” Excellence.
Greatest Miss: “Time”, for sure. Damn, son.
For fans of: Action Bronson, Diplo, tech beards, vivid imagery, ignorance