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April 9, 2013

Riff Raff: Started From The Bottom

I’ve been meaning to confess this to yall for sometime: I’m addicted to Riff Raff. Of course not in no homosexual way (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but anytime a video featuring Riff Raff appears on my youtube app I have to watch and watch it to the very end. Something I don’t do with 99% of rappers.

Riff Raff’s got it. He’s cracked the code. Without any co-signs or even one hot single, he’s managed to carve out an interesting place for himself. So how did he do it?

Trolling.

While not exactly being a “troll” in the internet sense of saying whatever to get a reaction, pretty much everything Riff Raff does is for a laugh. And he is never out of character.

If we look at interviews of say Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, not that its possible to watch anything with these guys in it without falling asleep, you realize how boring most rappers are. They just don’t get it.

They don’t get how to be entertaining when the cameras are rolling, they just want to look cool or look deep or rap really good. They seem like they’d rather impress Jay-Z than entertain normal human beings.

The funny thing is that shit doesn’t fly anymore. My attention span is so short I doubt I’ll be able to finish this piece. Imagine the attention span on your average teenager today? If your boring within the first 2 seconds of your video I’m already on to the next one. The days of waiting for RapCity to come on just for a chance to see your favorite video are long gone. There’s too much choice.

Everything Riff’s done in the last two years has been brilliant. He uses leased beats from soundclick which costs no more than $20, his songs only contain one verse and a catchy hook and his videos while increasing in budget now probably cost between a 711 slushy and 128 gig iPad. He also spends less than 5 minutes on a song.

You see most of these bozos blow all their money on one worldstar placement betting on a song that hasn’t been tested and when it flops you never hear about them again. They blew their whole budget. You see to make it, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul and that means getting out there as cost effectively as possible. No unsigned artist has millions let along thousands to blow on “marketing” that may or may not work.

I first heard about Riff Raff in 2008 from my good friend who said, “you’ve got to see this white guy on From G’s to Gents”, which was some MTV reality show where Farnsworth Bentley (what ever happened to him?) would train a bunch of ratchet ass niggas into civilized human beings. My first thought seeing Riff Raff was “man this guy really drank the kool aid”.

Some years passed and I didn’t bother following up with Riff Raff well because he was a guy with an MTV neck tatt, which may or may not be worse than a Playboy neck tatt. I was narrow minded.

Riff Raff went on to do more viral videos which made their way onto worldstar and he used an association with Souljaboy to further springboard his career, though I’m not sure how much that helped.

Fast-forward to 2011, news had broke that Diplo had actually signed Riff Raff. Diplo is clearly someone that understands working on the edge. He takes risks where others are scared and they’ve paid off. I believe what Diplo saw in Riff Raff is not only a funny guy but a guy that gets how to create and present his art for maximum attention. You do want your songs to be heard right?

Of course, most label execs or guys who pretend they’re label execs wouldn’t agree: they want the next Drake. They don’t understand innovation. They don’t understand disruption. Lady Gaga was dropped by her label because they didn’t know what to do with her. If Akon’s crazy ass didn’t sign her and let her be herself she would probably still be doing burlesque shows or stripping.

Another reason I rate Riff Raff is that his style borrows heavily from 90′s and early 2000 Texas era rap. He really pays homage to the Texas tradition, it is just re-imagined for youtube audiences. Riff’s style for the last few years didn’t exactly fit in with the Drake-emo vibe thats ruled for sometime. But that is probably why it is so refreshing. Interestingly, Drake isn’t even doing Drake anymore and there are rumors that Riff Raff will be on the Started From The Bottom remix.

The first video I saw of Riff wasn’t even a music video, it was a supposed interview he did with Forbes. He was speaking in a posh British accent running all over his hotel room. It was hilarious. I was sold. He had surprised me. He wasn’t some dumb hick ala a Lil Whyte. He was an entertainer and he made me laugh.

See that’s the great thing about youtube, you don’t need fancy videos to get known, you just have to connect. If you can entertain us once, we’re hooked we’ll check out all your other videos. But it’s very difficult. But Riff did it.

So I checked out his other videos and while most of his songs made the rap reviewer inside me cringe, Riff Raff sold the songs through his videos.

A metaphorical way to put why your rap career isn’t as successful as Riff Raff’s is you’re not willing to get a worldstar tattoo. I mean who does that? Riff knows he’s going to be ridiculed but he does it anyway to get attention. It also allows him to get good with worldstar. You just don’t have the balls to put yourself out there like that. You want Jay-Z or Kanye to hear your DatPiff mixtape with 1000 views and do all the work for you. You’re just not interesting. If you were people would be naturally sharing your videos like they do for Riff Raff and other artists that “get it”. The times have changed, have you?

Here are some of my favorite Riff Raff videos, I’ve tried to present them in chronological order in which I discovered them way back when to give you the same what the f*ck is going on experience I had.

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  • spidaman3

    Riff Raff, Ghostface Killah, & Lil Wayne to me probably had the best Nardwuar interviews.