Words About Music
RiFF RAFF “NEON iCON”
RiFF RAFF is one of hip-hop’s most polarizing figures in a long time. On one hand, he has a style all his own that results in parodic stream-of-consciousness weirdo tracks and interviews. On the other hand, his persona is one of an obnoxious, moody, self-indulgent artist who thinks he’s better than he is. In total, you’ve got a Versace Demigod Rap Game James Franco White Danny Glover that is also one of contemporary hip-hop’s most fascinating experimenters. His songs range from faux-R&B to rock/rap hybrids to trap-style club anthems. Not every experiment is a hit, but a decent amount of the songs on his sophomore album “NEON iCON” is actually pretty fun. And that’s what RiFF RAFF is about in my opinion: having fun. He may not exude positivity on the level of other internet-borne rappers like Lil B The Basedgod or Kitty, but it’s hard to hold back a smile while listening to some of the songs on here.
In a way, one can see “NEON iCON” as RiFF RAFF’s reinterpretation of the hip-hop album. There’s braggadocio, mentions of drugs, filler tracks, attempts at singing, and skits. If this album came out 12 years ago it would probably be taken seriously. His music is a funny joke, but just because something is funny doesn’t mean it is necessarily good. RiFF RAFF plays so hard into his persona, though, that the joke is buried in non-sequitirs and unprecedented brags. It’s both funny and not, maybe because RiFF has worked on the album for such a long time (thought: what if the album’s several delays were a part of the joke?) Even when RiFF attempts a song about a serious subject, like being dumped or the idea that time goes by even when your life feels like it’s slowed to a stop, he injects his own fluorescent flair into it. It’s not always good, but at least it’s consistent.
There are songs on here that are easy to dislike, and sometimes even the straight-up rap songs that are more in RiFF’s alley get sort of old. It’s hard to understand what RiFF is trying to say at times, if he’s trying to say anything. He’s trying to make an album that is simultaneously disconnected (internet style) and personable. He’s trying to give advice about living your life while also making zero sense. “NEON iCON” is a listenable contradiction that sometimes doesn’t even rhyme, but I imagine most of the album’s fans aren’t listening for a message or moral. At times RiFF seems like a sad individual, but then he comes around in a bout of energetic ecstasy. It’s weird.
What is most impressive about “NEON iCON” is that it actually lives up to expectations. No one was anticipating a masterpiece and no one got one. It’s a decent hip-hop LP with some great tracks and some bad ones. If you’ve ever heard RiFF RAFF before, you probably know what to expect on most of these songs: a fun, fresh take on rap music that will show you how to be the man. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s got some good production and hilarious lyricism. He’s the White Eddie Murphy, Jody High Roller. Take it with a grain of rice.
SCORE – 6.4
FAVORiTE TRACKS – Introducing the Icon, Kokayne, Wetter than Tsunami, Versace Python, Aquaberry Dolphin, How to be the Man
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