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Showering with Riff Raff

Don’t ask Riff Raff about the past, or the future, or even the present. In fact, don’t ask Riff Raff anything. Just let him talk.

Photos by Colin Kerrigan

Don’t ask Riff Raff about the past, or the future, or even the present. In fact, don’t ask Riff Raff anything. Just let him talk. The Houston designer rapper is ultra-hyper, repeats the last sentence of almost every sentence he utters, makes ridiculous metaphors about virgins and banana smoothies, and with a lick of his grills can launch into a whole diatribe about how Justin Bieber will one day emulate him. And why not? Ever since the man they call Jody Highroller slithered on the scene, he’s both shocked and charmed the masses with his strangely unorthodox take on the aesthetics of rap music. It’s no surprise that Riff Raff is a polarizing figure, but checking in with him following a performance in Philly for the Zumiez Couch Tour, and he’s nothing but fucking sunshine. He jumps in the shower mid-interview to talk Neon Icon, the influx of critics, his “famous friends,” and James Franco’s role in Spring Breakers. The Summer just started, but clearly it’s Jody Highroller season.


Noisey: You just performed at the Zumiez Couch Tour, which is like for skaters. Do you skateboard?
Riff Raff: Nah, I can’t do all that stuff. I can’t skateboard. I don’t know how to do that! I mean, I could probably skateboard 20 years ago, when I was 1-years-old.

Did you say 20 years ago when you were a year old?
Wait, nah…5. Yeah, I was 5 actually. No, 6? Yeah, 6. I’m just a baby. What’s up? What’s up? I'm trying to get to this lobster.

You’re trying to get lobster?
Jump in the shower first and then get dressed and then go eat lobster. Yeah, that sounds good.

Is it cool that you can afford lobster and stuff now that you’re famous?
Oh yeah! Oh yeaaah! Hell yeah! Lobster’s good for me.

So when did you kind of know that Riff Raff was a superstar?
Um, more of an icon than a superstar. ‘Cause superstars, you know, I don’t know what a superstar does. I just know what an icon does, and that’s whatever you want to do and it’s trendsetting. You know? It’s real cutting-edge.

But there is something super to have almost 200 million YouTube views and all that.
Yeah. Famous. I’m rich and famous. Somebody even said that Justin Bieber is going to maybe end up getting braids and stuff too. I got everybody looking like me! I got everybody, ev-ev-everybody looking like me! Best shit ever. You know what I’m saying? Bieber’s the biggest superstar in the world. Justin Bieber is an icon; he’s an icon. So if I can get Justin Bieber to get some more tattoos and get grills and chains and everything and more braids, then that’ll make me almost the biggest icon in the world. We’re going to have to see if Justin Bieber gets the braids then. Then people gonna know like, “Okay, Jody Highroller’s the biggest trendsetter in the world!” Obviously. Obviously I am.


So what was it like for you coming up?

I don’t know. I don’t even know what I did yesterday. I’m trying to look for tomorrow. I don’t like to look at the past. If I buy a new car, I rip the rearview mirror off because I don't like to look back.

I love that. You don’t really do that though, right?
Why not?

Because it’s dangerous…
Ah, fuck danger.

So tell me about Neon Icon.
Oh I don’t even know how it’s going to sound. I don’t know nothing about it. I’m anxious to hear how it sound too because this is the thing: When I did Neon Icon, I recorded songs, but then I don’t even want them to play it back. I don’t want to hear the mixed version, I don’t want to hear nothing until it’s all the way done. So when the album drops, then I’m going to listen to it just like everybody else is. You know? It’s funner like that. It’s funner like that.

Do you still have Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Drake, and A$AP Rocky on there?
Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm! Yes!

Did you reach out to those guys or did they say, “I need to collaborate with Riff Raff”?
I think I reached out to them. A little of both. I hit them, and then they hit me back and they wanted to actually do it, you know? I didn’t have to twist anybody’s arm. That’s good, when you don’t have to. If somebody wants to do something, they’ll do it. It’s like if somebody asked me while I’m walking down the street, “Hey, do you want this banana smoothie?” I’d be like, “Yeah. Yeah I do want that! I actually want it! I’m glad you asked me.” But it’s different if someone is having to sell you something and be like, “Yo, yo please! Yo let me do this! Please do this for me!” I don’t beg anybody. I don't need anybody on my album. I’m just glad that those types of superstars were willing to get on a rookie’s album. I’m really a rookie. A lot of people like me, a lot of people know me, I’m famous…but I haven’t dropped an album yet. So this is my first album. So to have some superstars actually reach out or accept my offer, and they’re actually enthusiastic about it, like yeah they actually want to do it.


You had some face time with these guys too right?
Me and Mac Miller, we sat there in his house, he made the beat. We knocked the song out in an hour! And we just shot a couple Vines, hung out in his spot and boom, I’m gone! These superstars invite me to their house to do music. It’s not every day that somebody who’s new in the music world to have so many open arms, like people who are already established millionaires, to also appreciate me and be like, “I know this is a rookie album, it’s his debut album and I’m willing to do that.” It’s usually a label that reaches out and they’re like, “Yeah, we want to get such-and-such on here!” and then the two people never meet, or they have to pay them or so on and so forth. It’s just good to have some superstar icon friends who are like, willing to be my friends! Because once you make it that high up where these type of guys are and stuff, talking about the top people in the game like Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Drake and all these dudes, it’s just like hey, doing pretty damn good!

So how does the album…oh, you don’t know how the album sounds because you’re not listening to it until the release date.
Exactly! Ow! Mm-hmm!

Making my job harder, Riff.
I’m making it easy. I’m about to put you on speakerphone while I take a shower. Scrub, scrub, scrubbing! This is really exclusive. I never did an interview in the shower before. I’m a virgin.

Okay, not at all awkward. Do you feel like critics make you have to kind of prove yourself extra hard?
No because the thing is, the people who really know me, who’ve been following my music since day one when I was doing freestyles, they’re on my side! They don’t need me to be accepted by anybody! I don’t need to be accepted by anybody. They know! And if somebody comes talking that bullshit, then they’re like, “No! Who’s that talking that bullshit to Jody Highroller? Fuck them!” They know! It’s like, if you have a friend and it's your best friend and she’s a virgin, but everybody calls her a slut. Everybody calls her a slut just because she’s pretty, then you’re like, “Hey! Fuck them! She’s not a slut, she’s a virgin!” So it’s like that. It’s like, fuck people’s opinions. What the fuck, man! They can’t compete with me. All they can do is talk about me. You know? They can’t make hit songs like me. Whoever it is who has time to try to talk about me, then obviously they’re not making hit songs like me!


Can’t argue with that.
Can’t argue with me, man.

So how do you handle being a sex symbol?
Oh, am I? I mean, it’s cool. I mean, everybody wants to marry me or have kids with me; it’s like that. And I’m like, I can’t do that right now. I’m focused on me. And most of the time, I don’t even have any time to be dating or like, talking to girls or anything. I’m so busy and focused on what I do and stuff. I mean, I’m a virgin right now but hopefully one day I’ll find somebody who’s worth my time.

Is that what you tell your groupies? You tell them that you’re a virgin?
Why would I tell somebody that? I’m embarrassed that I’m a virgin. I mean, hopefully some day.

Hopefully, hopefully.

So are you going on tour?
When am I going on tour?

Uh, are you going to be going on tour for Neon Icon?
Oh, that tour? That one, that’s going to be closer to like, probably August if anything. August-region.

What do you put on your tour rider?
Well, first of all, I need four first-class flights. I need everything first-class. If it’s not a private plane, I need everything first-class. Flights, I need hotel suites, I need the best hotel in town, the top of the line best hotel suite. I need pink champagne, endless bottles of pink champagne, I need room-temperature fruit. I want it to be fresh fruit, but I want it to be like almost you just picked it off a tree. Like it’s mango, I need mango, I need pineapple. It needs to be sliced up. I need a lot of water. I want crab legs. I need crab legs backstage. That’s kind of about it. But there’s like, more stuff I can’t even think about right now.


Everybody says that they need extra pairs of socks. Why is that?
People always ask for extra what?


Like socks you wear on your feet. Socks. S-o-c-k-s.
F-o-t-k-s? Oh, socks!

People get off stage, and they’re all sweaty and stuff. I mean, I need socks.

Oh that makes sense. You should add that to your rider because everybody seems to add that.
I’m definitely gonna ask for socks because I do actually run out of socks. I’m actually going to have to buy some today.

You should ask for Rob Kardashian’s sock line.
Next time you talk to him, you ask him for me and then you can, you know, you can make that happen. You talk to him and tell him, “Hey, why don't you have Riff Raff be your spokesman?” Why don’t you tell him that, huh?

Yeah. I'll get right on that.

What would you say is your favorite moment in your career so far?
Too many to name. I mean, I can’t even name that shit. Every day is a new day and I appreciate every day, and I’m having fun and doing whatever I want. It’s just fun. When I'm 50-years-old and I retire or whatever, then I'll reminisce. Until then, I’ll just take it day-by-day and just be happy. You know what I mean? If you dwell too much on the past, the more you think about the past, the less time you have to think about the future. So the way I like to do it is hey, I’ll look back when I'm 50.

So are you entertaining any of this acting?
Well yeah, especially the whole Vine thing. I’ll show you the best Vine ever in history. You know, it’s on the Top 25 page and then on Instagram too. But once you do that, all these movies are like, “Yo, we know you’re like a famous underground artist right now. You’re about to blow up and all this.” You know, it just happened like that.


So you would actually probably be the first artist, the first person ever, to get acting gigs because of your Vine.
No, I bet you other people do too. I’m just saying like, I’m just saying that type of stuff like that, people see how valuable and versatile I am. So then they’re like, “Okay, he’s not just a superstar, he’s an icon. Wait a second, he’s the neon icon.”

You did a parody of One Life To Live, right?
Yeah, that was an internet type of deal. It was cool; that was cool. But I’m talking movies, I’m talking bigger. Hustle. I’m talking big boy stuff, I’m talking big boyyy stufff. I’m the white Will Smith.

And what about Spring Breakers?
What about Spring Breakers?

How did you feel? You thought that James Franco was kind of emulating you? And then you emulated James Franco, is that right? Is that how that worked?
Oh, did I? Did I look anything like a James Franco?

Well you did an impersonation of him in your video…
Did I? Oh, did I? How? I didn’t do anything of a James Franco. The only thing is the name, wow…Jamie Franco. Just fucking around. Just playing around. But look. Did I look anything like him? No. He doesn’t have braids. He doesn’t have all that gold and jewelry and all that stuff. He did that. He did well when he played… He did a good image of me on the outside when he played in Spring Breakers. I mean of course he had weave in his hair and all that. It wasn’t actually the real me, but he did what he could to try to look like me and I appreciate that. That he tried to look like me, I appreciate that. And then he said things like my quotes from 4-5 years ago. He did that, I appreciate that, that he did that. But me, oh the Jamie Franco…that’s just me showing appreciation to him as he showed to me and did the whole movie.


True, true. I like the real Riff Raff better.
Oh, I’m sure everybody would say that.

Follow Kathy on Twitter - @kath3000

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