Riff Raff released his debut album, Neon Icon, today after over a year of anticipation. It is difficult in deciding whether to take Riff Raff seriously or not, and I will attempt to answer this question in listening to his debut.
We get our first taste of the album in “Introducing the Icon” and it is the same Riff Raff we have got to know and love the past couple years. It starts with a very silly skit with two ‘bros’ talking about Neon Icon dropping, women and nip slips. Then as soon as Riff Raff comes in he gives us classic Riff Raff punch lines, that are very clever and funny, although maybe too funny for some rap fans. “She was grabbing on my slong doing handstands. Hey Julie Styles, Save The Last Dance.”
Now is it fair to critique Riff Raff even? What if he doesn’t want to be taken seriously? Maybe he wants to give the people at Rap Genius hell by making their jobs difficult in decoding some of his over the top and questionable lyrics. In rap music today, there is no black and white when it comes to the use of humor. You have artists like The Lonely Island, who are clearly mocking rap music today but actually piece together some catchy entertaining songs with well produced beats. Then you have artists like Kanye West, who are completely serious, but show off their funny bone in their lyrics, “Fresh air, rollin’ up the window. Too many Urkels on your team, that’s why your Wins-low.” You have popular and serious rappers that literally are established comedy writers and stand-up comedians, Donald Glover (Childish Gambino). Then you even have rappers like Lil B, who I won’t even go into explaining, but I will thank the based god before bed every night. However, since I can pay U.S. currency for Riff Raff’s album, and since I did enjoy some of his tracks with comedians Simon Rex and Andy Milonakis on their Three Loco EP, I will take him relatively seriously.
The rest of the album, although diverse in its sound, “Maybe You Love Me” sounds like a Top 40 singe while “Kokayne” sounds like punk rock, it still is classic Riff Raff with silly lyrics with different but very decent rap flows. Riff Raff also does a great job in his debut by picking his features. “Maybe You Love Me” with a great catchy hook my Mike Posner, and Lava Glaciers with Childish Gambino are definite keepers. One thing you certainly can’t critique Riff Raff on is his ability to surround himself with talented artists and producers, after all he is Drake’s “last new friend”. While his debut is full of great flows and hilarious lyrics, we certainly are excited to see when and how Riff Raff will top Neon Icon and try to avoid the sophomore album curse.