Riff Raff is arguably the most eccentric, unpredictable rapper making music today, and his presence has been particularly difficult to avoid in recent weeks. Mere days ago, he made headlines for signing with Diplo's Mad Decent imprint and also engaging in some minor Twitter beef with former comrade Soulja Boy. But the man who fashions himself as Jody Highroller (and whose Twitter bio calls him the "#1 Sleep Walking Booty Grabber in Sweden") isn't content with contemporary Internet meme status.
From making movies to taking music more seriously, the 26-year-old MC plans on maximizing his impact on popular culture for years to come. If Riff Raff remains a bit of an enigma, we can only assume that it's by choice. He's wholly self-aware and intent on not giving away the secret to his intrigue. But after sitting down with him for a thorough conversation, we're getting a little bit closer. Continue reading to find out: Who Is Riff Raff?
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As told to Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo)
Growing Up In Houston
"I could vividly remember everything [about] my childhood.
I had the same mind frame since I was five years old. I have the same thought pattern, same everything.
Growing up, I was the same way I am right now. Always on the next adventure. Trying to make something day by day.
Houston is real. It’s an island almost because the shit that goes on there might not even reach Louisiana or Dallas. It might just hit right there and not even get to the outside world. It’s like a whole 'nother world. That’s the only other state I have ever been to where it's like that. It’s really kind of closed in, closed-minded. Whatever is going on right there, that’s how people judge or standardize you. Like, 'Okay, this is what’s going on here. How do you fit in with these regulations?' You know what I mean? There is so many people there too.
I grew up there, but I grew up in multiple cities too. I know a lot of people say, 'Oh, are you from Houston?' I don’t even say anything about Houston. I’m not saying anything good or anything bad. I can’t say I’ll represent the average Houston person or something like that. I just do whatever I do. If someone is my fan, they don’t care where I’m from. You understand who I am or you are trying to. Don’t judge your fanmanship upon me based if I am from Houston or not. You are not going to be my fan then. My career or the things I do isn’t based on the fact that, 'Oh, I am from Houston. This is how…' Nah. Don’t even affiliate me with anything involving or representing a territory."
Learning How To Rap
Reality TV Past on MTV's G's To Gents
"I prefer not to speak upon anything like that because that did nothing but hinder or stunt shit that I’m doing. It almost held me back being on some shit where somebody was like I'm supposed to have my own show, being promised my own show. I'm on this show from five years ago that did absolutely nothing. I obviously should have my own talk show on MTV or some shit like that or multiple shows. To be placed in a category where you're on this show where everything started. No—if anything, that type of shit held me back. That’s what people tried to affiliate me with.
I obviously should have my own talk show on MTV... They never gave me my own show. It’s a sore subject
"It's like every time Drake did an interview with someone, ‘Oh, you on Degrassi?’ It's like, "Man!" I could see why Chris Brown would be pissed off by being constantly reminded of some bullshit that did nothing, that did no help for your career. Every time I hear anybody mentioning anything about MTV or a show or something... they never gave me my own show. It’s a sore subject.
"It's like constantly talking about an ex-girlfriend who is a slut or something. It's no good coming out of it. For me talking about MTV or the fact that they didn’t give me my own show it’s going to do nothing but bring up bad memories. I don’t think it held me back. I just don’t think it helped at all."
Taking Rap Seriously
"The thing I take seriously is my well-being and money and success. I take that seriously. Holding something like a pinnacle or something—this goes back to that territory type shit. ‘Oh, this is the rap game and you can’t do this and you can’t do this. Don’t step on these people’s toes and don’t do this.’ It’s just like saying, ‘Oh, I represent such and such and I do this.’ I don’t represent anybody and I don’t hold anything at such a high arc that I gotta manage by somebody’s rule. I don’t ever do good with rules.
I quit school. I don’t do good in following police guidelines or restrictions. For someone to put rules on a genre of music or put me in a category of rap, I can’t even see how you can do that.
I didn’t do good in school. I quit school. I don’t do good in following police guidelines or restrictions. For someone to put rules on a genre of music or put me in a category of rap, I can’t even see how you can do that. Just because I rhyme words together doesn’t mean I’m a rapper. People are going to say whatever they have to say and put you in whatever category possible. For me to even try and argue with that or tell somebody I am not a rapper or I am not this or I am not that or I take this seriously or I don’t take this seriously, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, they will have their own judgment and their own opinion."
Diplo and Signing To Mad Decent
Soulja Boy and SODMG
"I have over 100 songs that haven’t been released yet. I have the Harry Fraud mixtape that’s coming out. I have the Dame Grease mixtape that’s done. Diplo. It’s like eight albums coming out. That is just music-wise.
I just want every day when I wake up I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. When you get to that point, then you aren’t like a rapper or something. You are this empire.
I mean, I’m talking with people about movies and talk shows and stuff like that right now. I just want every day when I wake up I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. When you get to that point, then you aren’t like a rapper or something. You are this empire. This icon that you can just get up and do whatever you want. You think Britney Spears has to wake up and be like, ‘Dang, you know, I wonder if I could buy this car? I wonder if I could do this?’ Once you get on that level, it doesn’t matter what you do. You could make your own George Foreman grill or whatever.
I just try every day instead of dwelling on the past or the future. If you just accomplish the goals, then success will find you for that time being, and move you towards a bigger goal. As long as you are constantly making baby steps, you are going to keep improving. Or whatever it is, not even improve. If you are just constantly stepping towards, blossoming towards success."
"Rap Game" Meme
"I don't know. I just did it. I just started saying that. Shit, everybody using it now. Think about it: When I say shit, it’s not to be taken as a life lesson. It’s more like lyrical artwork. So everything I say, if you have someone at the crib who has enough mind and imagination to understand everything I say then you will be thinking the same thing I am thinking when I wrote that.
If I say, ‘Rap game Picasso.’ I paint a picture in your mind like that’s Picasso.
If I say, ‘Rap game Picasso.’ I paint a picture in your mind like that’s Picasso. But then again, I can’t speak for everybody. When I say what I say or whatever then you might not in your imagination be able to understand or come up with that picture in your mind. When someone says,’Rap game Dawson’s Creek,’ maybe you don’t even know what Dawson’s Creek is or you didn’t watch that show or didn’t feel the same type of vibe when you watched the show that I felt.
It’s there. I put it there. It’s like I set the table and I put the food out there. But I can’t make somebody go eat it. I can’t make somebody understand what I am saying and understand and think what I am thinking. I can’t make that happen. I can just give it and put it out there."
Relationships With Other Rappers
"Lately, these past couple of months I've been traveling around. Things just work out where I end up working with these new great artists. I think things are turning in a way where everybody is making their own lane. People kind of respect that now or something. I think as recent as three or four years ago maybe, it’s like, 'You are doing exactly this' or 'You are signed to this major' or 'You are doing this then you are the shit.' Now, it’s almost like things are turning where it’s like, if you are in the random type—I don’t know, it varies though.
Things just work out where I end up working with these new great artists. I think things are turning in a way where everybody is making their own lane.
I guess me and Action Bronson connect on the fact that we are just relentless. We are both just some relentless grinders. He’s going to do what he’s going to do. I do my style and everything, but we just—I can’t put my finger on certain things. When you connect with someone on a common ground, you never know. You just end up getting along with that person.
Me personally, I don’t like or not like people. That’s just the type of person I am. If somebody connected with me on some type of level, I don’t have any problem with that."