Riff Raff’s buzz has, without a doubt, turned into something realer than just and momentary Internet obsession. The Texas rapper has signed with Diplo’s Mad Decent label, hung out with Justin Bieber and Drake, and recorded songs with Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt. Now, Riff Raff is headlining his own tour and prepping to be connect with a larger audience than ever before.
Many outlets, including HipHopDX and Pitchfork, reported his highly anticipated album Neon Icon would come out this week. Those reports, however, were not accurate and when speaking with Mr. Raff about the delays he seems frustrated as well, but maintains confidence that Neon Icon is coming sometime in June.
Making the transition from YouTube clicks to iTunes purchases isn’t an easy one, especially when trying to develop public perception that what Riff Raff’s musical movement is about more than getting laughs. Even with all of the backing in the world (he supposedly has Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, and Drake on this album) will people take the Gucci-garbed white rapper seriously?
With Riff Raff it doesn’t really matter. He’s touring, getting paid, (and he’s completely outgrown SXSW mania). Whether or not you like it, Riff Raff is here to stay, and he’s only getting bigger.
Mass Appeal: You just kicked off the biggest tour of your career, how is that going?
Riff Raff: Good. Sold out shows everywhere. Obviously the album was supposed to be out before a tour, but we’re going backwards. We’re doing the tour before the album and the pre-sale link and shit. But we’re going to drop the pre-sale link soon, I’m assuming, and just keep it moving.
MA: What’s your favorite part of being on tour?
RR: Just meet[ing] new people everyday. I just like to travel, I always liked to travel. I don’t like to stay in the same spot. I guess that’s a big part of it. To see a new city everyday, new people, new food— it’s fun.
MA: It didn’t seem like you enjoyed SXSW this year.
RR: I’ve been to SXSW ten, fifteen times. I’ve already done that. I mean, maybe when you’re on a Lady Gaga status. When you’re on that level it’s like you’re coming back just to do something big. A lot of SXSW, to me, it kind of builds your name up or whatever. I’m kind of in that middle area, but I haven’t dropped an album yet.
Now if I was invited to go perform at the Superbowl, now that’s something I would get excited about. I’m a game time player. It’s like going to practice fifteen times. Sooner or later you’re going to be like, “OK, when is the game time,” know what I mean? I’ve just outgrown it.
MA: Why has Neon Icon been delayed so many times?
RR: Well, the album is done. With the label they got a big … situation with the album. Now the album is going to be in every store. It’s going to be in Target, Best Buy, Walmart— everywhere.
When you’re doing it on that big of a level you got to upgrade it, you know what I mean? So it’s like, you want the iPhone 5 or you want the iPhone 7? So we got upgraded to the iPhone 7 now. We got everything. Sometimes those things take time, and with this situation that’s what it was.
MA: You worked with a lot of people on this album including Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, and Drake. Who were you most compatible with?
RR: I’m not going to say who was the best artist or nothing like that. I will say that me and Mac Miller actually sat in the studio, we made the beat together, and then did the whole record right there on the spot. It wasn’t like, send somebody a record then we match it up or whatever. Also, me and Mike Posner did the same thing. That’s how I work. To see him work like that too… I don’t know, we’re both artists.
MA: So is that a Larry Fisherman production?
RR: Yeah. It’s a Larry Fisherman, Jody Highroller production.
MA: Why should fans cop Neon Icon at stores rather than illegally downloading it?
RR: Well, it’s going to have a neon case, like the old Master P CD’s. It’s going to have the fold out poster. All my lyrics are going to be written in there. Every single lyric I’m saying you can read it word by word, like in the olden days.
The reason I did it like that [is] so all these haters and everybody who wanna… whatever the case is, you can read word for word. So now there’s no more of that dumb ass shit where people talking about, “Oh I can’t understand what you’re saying.” Now the formula is written right in front of your fucking face.
No more of that fucking baby talk. I got these fucking kindergartners talking to a college professor trying to tell me you don’t understand. Well maybe you’re in the wrong fucking class.
MA: When is Galaxy Gladiators with Action Bronson gonna come out?
RR: Aw man— I still got Neon Icon, and his first project needs to drop. We’ll slowly put things together for that. I would probably say next year sometime. He’s definitely got to drop his project, I got to drop mine, and we need to give those time to breath.
We’re both early in our careers. We’re rising stars though— definitely.
MA: I heard you have something in the works with Harry Fraud as well?
RR: The Neon Vibes project, that’s also supposed to come out. I got a lot of projects, so many songs, but we’re focusing on this Neon Icon right now, then Neon Vibes. It’s continual, it’s not going to stop.
MA: So what’s the trajectory then?
RR: That’s the thing, you just take it step by step. First things first, just drop the Neon Icon album. But I have short term goals and long terms goals. That’s one of the things I do remember about first grade. You write down your big goals on paper, and then you write down what small steps can you make to get to these long term goals. That something that I’ve kept since a kid.
I want to buy a house on an island and all that, but right now I’m touring and working on putting this album out.
MA: When you were a kid in first grade was the big goal to be an international superstar rapper?
RR: Definitely. Other people, they dream about being an astronaut, or they want to be this or want to be that. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. I always knew I wanted to be big. I’m exactly who I wanted to be as a kid.
MA: What mark do you want to leave on the rap game?
RR: I just don’t want to stop or plateau. I don’t just want to be an artist that is. You already know what my album is going to sound like next. I want to continually make progression. It’s not just about the music, it’s about life. I want to progress, and once my life progresses my music will also improve. Bigger tour bus, bigger cars, bigger houses, private jets— all that.
Make sure you cop Neon Icon in stores this summer and check out Riff Raff on tour now:
May 1 - Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
May 2 - Dallas, TX @ Main Street Gardens – JMBLYA
May 3 - New Braunfels, TX @ Whitewater Amphitheatre – JMBLYA
May 5 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theatre
May 6 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
May 7 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
May 8 - Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues
May 9 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
May 10 - Orange County, CA @ The Observatory
May 11 - San Francisco, CA @ The Regency
May 12 - Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
May 14 - Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
May 15 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre
May 17 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
May 19 - Tucson, AZ @ The Rock
May 24 - Detroit, MI @ Hart Plaza – Movement Festival