RiFF RAFF 'Neon Icon' Review: An Ambitious Hip-Hop Travesty
It’s difficult to distinguish what kind of album Neon Icon is, or what RiFF RAFF is trying to achieve with it. With silly, slapstick lyrics and over-the-top musical movements, you’d think the album is trying to be funny; a parody that makes fun of the hip-hop genre. Sadly it isn’t. Neon Icon takes itself too seriously, making absolutely no sense lyric-wise with mediocre tunes that all together make for a nauseating experience.
For those of you who didn’t know (and it wouldn’t surprise me if you didn’t), Horst Christiano Simco — better known as RiFF RAFF — is a rapper from Houston, Texas, who first started out working with Soulja Boy’s label S.O.D. Money Gang Inc. He then signed with record label Mad Descent, after he gained more recognition from working with artists such as Skrillix, Usher, and Gucci Mane. It’s also worth noting the slapstick comedy that RiFF RAFF is known for; ad-libbing his way through MTV’s show From G’s to Gents, and being a funny character all together as part of his persona, which eventually made the artist a cult phenomenon.
Perhaps working these different artists influenced the music in Neon Icon. You can tell that RiFF RAFF was trying to experiment with different styles, but he ends up delivering an inconsistent experience. It’s like mixing chocolate and strawberry milk — you get a nasty concoction. There are some great moments left in tact, however. The opening song “Introducing the Icon” is a surprisingly fun track with a ‘90s feel to it. Probably the best moment of the song is the irony behind some of the lyrics: “Diplo trippin’ talkin’ ‘bout ‘You gotta focus on the lyrics in your/ Songs, a lot is riding on this album.’” Sorry Riff, but Diplo’s got a point there. If you pulled up the lyrics on the Internet (and you have to, since Riff reads his lines with an obnoxious slur) you can’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of these rhymes. Still, I can sort of admire RiFF RAFF’s desire for freedom of expression, since artists are stifled by record labels all the time for the sake of money.
Regardless, Neon Icon is a travesty of an ambitious hip-hop project. RiFF RAFF has creating a mixed bag of styles that don’t really fit well together, with absurd lyrics that don’t bode well for an album that takes itself seriously. Even though the lyrics are a negative, they’re so ridiculous that they actually become a positive aspect of the album at the same time. Which is why I think Riff is on to something with his humor and could certainly use it to his advantage in his future projects.