Smile Politely

The ascension of RiFF RAFF

I’m not going to lie to you: I’m sitting here listening to the Mountain Goats and wondering why I’ve got writer’s block while trying to write an article about Riff Raff. Laugh all you want, but it’s not hard to be a fan of both the thoughtful, understated folk diddies of the Goats and the absurdity that is Jody Highroller aka Riff Raff. I’d like to make the argument that there’s much more going on under those pink cornrows than meets the eye.

Riff Raff is the Andy Warhol of our generation. He embodies the idea of pop art as it exists today: money, fame, brand logos tattooed on his body. He’s not a rapper’s rapper by any means — wherever it was that he started, it wasn’t the bottom, and where is he now? Either at the gym pumping iron or elsewhere eating copious amounts of lobster. Did you know, by the way, that Hulk Hogan himself is helping Riff Raff train to be a professional wrestler?

If you follow any of his social media accounts, you would. I’m not surprised that Mr. Highroller is declining interviews on his current tour, nor am I peeved. Not because his art speaks for himself, but because he does. Over the past few months he’s morphed into a “burly boy” (his words), and has been pretty vocal about it. The man may not be the best rapper ever, but he sure knows how to create ultra-hype.

In fact, it doesn’t even matter that he’s a rapper at all. His debut album (preceded by a slew of mixtapes that garnered him a cult following) is titled Neon Icon. On the cover of the album he sits with his puppy (named Jody Husky of course) in one arm and a baby in another. He sits, dressed in a neon jacket, posed like a son of God sans halo. He is and always will be. He has transcended the medium of music and become an icon. If Lil B is the Based God, he is Based Jesus.

Which is why I’m not sure I want to see him at Canopy Club on Saturday. Oh I’m positive that, with the aid of certain mind altering substances, the show will be spectacular, But am I really prepared for the second coming? Do I really want to see Riff Raff in the flesh? Only the brave and the faithful will. Are you one of them?

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