Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 10:02AM
RiFF RAFF has been outworking the modern music industry while so many have struggled to figure out how to keep up. He's shaping up to be the number one Rookie of the Year contender, and his debut album isn't even out yet. The 'RiFF RAFF RAVE' tour held an atmosphere of anticipation as the question remains, just when will we get our hands on the 'NEON iCON'? After seeing him live in Calgary last year, and at the Mad Decent Block Party in Toronto we knew we were in for an incredibly positive experience. RiFF RAFF puts more energy into his live show than most humans can imagine. What else would you expect?
He takes the stage and it's instantly obvious that he is not messing around. Jody Highroller wastes no time between songs like 'Air Canada', 'Lil' Mama', and 'Dolce and Gabbana' save to call out someone smoking cigarettes in the audience and security for letting it slide, he doesn't fuck with cigarettes. The audience is treated to a preview of select tracks from the 'NEON iCON' album and each and every person there had the chance to meet him after the show. It's no surprise that an artist who has worked tirelessly to create their music and to find their audience is on their way to the top. After the London, Ontario show we had the opportunity to talk with RiFF RAFF about his love of Canada, a famous impersonator, and of course the 'NEON iCON'.
Fingers On Blast: How’s the winter tour going?
RiFF RAFF: The tour's going good, I’m having fun in canada. It’s always good to see Canadian fans, and you know, party with people. Sometimes it’s not even fans, it’s just party people. The fact that they vibe with my music is very different, it means a lot to me cuz I got a few songs on the radio worldwide. But all my stuff didn’t start on the radio, so when you meet true people that vibe with my music, it’s very special to me, because it’s a very abstract crowd.
Fingers On Blast: Some artists avoid touring Canada during the winter, what made you want to come to Canada during the coldest part of the year?
RiFF RAFF: Do they? I mean, obviously if you check my rings, I’m used to a lot of ice, I’m used to cold weather. I have a condo I just bought in Toronto, I have a lot of friends up here I’m cool with. I’ve got a lot of OVO homies, Drake and Justin Bieber so I’m up here a lot anyway. I love Canada.
Fingers On Blast: You've got the Versace Bieber chain on, did you know Justin Bieber was born in London? He grew up right around here.
RiFF RAFF: That’s cool. I got the Bieber chain, Versace head to toe.
Fingers On Blast: You know about Muppet RiFF?
RiFF RAFF: Yeah. That’s cool I love it.
Fingers On Blast: I think he's Canadian, he's got Canadian money in some of the Vines.
RiFF RAFF: Yeah I think he is from somewhere in Canada.
It's obvious that RiFF RAFF is a larger than life star, and it seems that throughout his career some people have chosen to focus on that, rather than the music. Yes, he's got one of the funniest Vine accounts, and deserves some credit in the early popularity of the app. He even inspired a Muppet style re-interpretation. Despite having an incredible sense of humour, when it comes to the music he's strictly business.
Fingers On Blast: What's going on with 'Neon iCON'? It seemed like it was ready to be released and then it was delayed last minute.
RiFF RAFF: It was gonna come out January 28th. I do a lot of laughing and joking, but when it comes to music, that’s what I’m serious about. That's what people miss, and they don’t understand that. When I said January 28th, I really thought it was gonna come out january 28th. What Diplo and them are saying right now is the end of April, the second half of April. Sometime been April 15th and May 3rd. I don’t want to say a specific date, but that’s what they’re saying, and I’m gonna trust them on that.
Fingers On Blast: But you don't want to say a specific date, after the last minute change?
RiFF RAFF: Yeah cuz after I said January 28th, and now I say another date, people are gonna say I’m lying. With my music, I don’t play around like that. Me laughing and joking and having fun, doing my vines and all that, is fun shit in celebration of my music.
Fingers On Blast: Diplo said there was a new distribution deal?
RiFF RAFF: Oh yeah, that already happened, that’s why it got pushed back. It wasn’t anything bad, it was the other way. Once Diplo started letting people hear these new tracks that we got, it was like everybody wanted to get involved with it. So we got more money, more video money. We could use our own money, Diplo got money, I got money. We could do this shit, a rookie album from a new artist, I really am a new artist. A lot of people know me, but I really am a new artist, cuz I have never dropped a real album. So when you’re putting out an album, you wanna get a lot of sponsors behind you, so when you drop your shit then you have more people, a bigger team to help you. You can use your own money, but when you’re using someone else’s money, it’s an investment for them so they wanna help push it also. So when you got the distribution deal, you get a lot more play on the radio, so now that we have a bigger distribution deal, a 2 million dollar distribution deal instead of having two songs on the radio, we’re gonna have like, 7 songs in full rotation, that’s how you break an artist, a new artist.
Fingers On Blast: We're all excited.
RiFF RAFF: Yeah everyone’s excited, they’re saying I’m gonna be the white 2 Chainz. So I’m waiting for this summer
Fingers On Blast: One of the big songs I was really into was Clinton Sparks 'Can I Stay With You Tonight'.
RiFF RAFF: Yeah it was a feature I did, dope song.
Fingers On Blast: That was getting into a little bit more of a rock sound. Is that something you're embracing?
RiFF RAFF: I mean when you hear this album, it’s not comparable to anything else I’ve put out. I’ve done stuff with a lot features, like the song you talked about, and all these tracks I’ve put out, but this album is incomparable. The thing we’ve done with The Neon Icon, for that alone, there’s 40 tracks that people have never heard, so we narrowed that all down over the last two years, the best tracks. Any tracks you’ve heard over the last two years, those are the tracks we’ve decided to randomly throw out, cuz they aren’t worthy of the album. All these tracks I’ve throw out, they’re just singles. Just me makin' music cuz I can’t sit still so I’m just throwing out all these tracks. But for the album, it’s gonna be the best 13 songs I’ve done over the past 2 years, and those haven’t got out yet, we haven’t let those hit the public.
Fingers On Blast: There's an intro floating around on the internet that is apparently from the album, is that real?
RiFF RAFF: Yeah that might be the intro, but that was just a rough draft, with me free styling over that. The thing is, with this album we’ve got 13 tracks mixed and mastered, and just to remind people, I’ve never had an album out, or any songs mixed and mastered. When you heard Kanye, you heard Eminem, you hear all these big artists, they’ve had real mixed and mastered songs. So for example, Eminem when he came out, he had Dr. Dre, so from day one he had mixed and mastered songs. But me, I’ve had zero mixed and mastered songs, it’s all been me. You can only imagine, if I was signed to a Dr. Dre 5 years ago, then I’d be on that type of status. But it’s not like 5, 10 years ago when you got people trying to help and what not. My shit is all from the ground up. All my shit is real organic. With Diplo and with this album it's the first time for me it’s like a Lil Wayne/Baby situation where you have someone helping you out to make a good album. This year I’m really a rookie.
This year, once I drop my Neon Icon album.
Pay attention, RiFF RAFF is leaving an outline on 'How To Be The Man'. It's not just a song, it's something he's made very real. The release of the 'NEON iCON' is a milestone, a self made artist with major backing at the last minute. This is what getting signed looks like in 2014. The 'RiFF RAFF RAVE' tour is one of the finest examples of how to reach your audience. Jody Highroller stuck around to take photos, sign autographs and meet his eclectic group of fans. Though he's still got his share of detractors, at this point that's a clear sign of success. They're just people who are missing something, or got left in the dust...