Song by Song Album Review: Neon Icon

On Tuesday, Noisey shared a basement interview with the Neon Icon/Versace (insert noun here)/Rap Game (insert celebrity here), RiFF RAFF. The interview coincides with the release of his label debut album Neon Icon, which I have been waiting for since January of this year. I know the album leak has been out forever, but my technological laziness turned into steadfast patience over the past month, and now I’m ready to cover this work for everyone that doesn’t even know who RiFF RAFF is.

Noisey has claimed the Houston rapper is no longer an enigma, but given the delay of his debut album, I personally became skeptical of the rapper and his seriousness in the game. Now it’s time to finally take a stance on RiFF RAFF, with my track for track review of Neon Icon

1. “Introducing the Icon” – I’ve definitely heard RiFF’s bro voice on Vine before, and he utilizes it here to kick off the humor. And when he raps about Bill Cosby chilling on his Nashville couch and being Gucci Mane with a slight tan/spray tan, you know this is the style of lyrics that will dominate the album. The drums on this beat along with a squeak that reminds me of “Jump Around” or “Insane in the Membrane” make for a DOPE beat.

2. “Kokayne” – The track spelling is expected. I first heard a sample from this song on iTunes and was immediately blown away. Again, we have a real drum set carrying the beat, and electric guitars filling out the rest of the music. Coming from a background of loving rock and metal much earlier than hip hop, these first two tracks are the shit.

3. “Wetter Than Tsunami” – I really wish RiFF would have warped the pronunciation of “tsunami” to rhyme with “granny” and “miami”, but maybe he’s not skilled enough of a rapper to think of that. Then again, maybe RiFF is just doing that to fuck with expectations.

4. “Jody 3 Moons (Skit)” – This track was almost on some mystical KiD CuDi level shit, but I wasn’t impressed with the humor here.

5. “Versace Python” – RiFF croons for the first time on the album. It’s pretty chill, but for a song titled “Versace Python”, I was expecting something harder in the paint.

6. “Lava Glaciers” feat. Childish Gambino – Harry Fraud beats generally score well in my book, and this beat utilizing a Nektar sample from 1971 doesn’t disappoint. It drowns out Gambino’s verse a little bit, but as a major Gambino fan, I can’t get mad at the feature. This is a song I am sure will grow on me with time.

7. “Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdins” – Telling another hater he can sleep outside the slumber part in a Versace sleeping bag is about as RiFF RAFF as you can get lyrically. This beat is slow and the hook is uninspiring, but all the lyrics about hanging out at the titty bar etc. are there if you want them.

8. “Maybe You Love Me” feat. Mike Posner – Didn’t know Mike Posner sounded THAT much like a girl, especially because he said “no autotune was used in the making of this recording”. <<<#Trolling. If you like Mike Posner and familiar hooks, you might like this song.

9. “Aquaberry Dolphin” feat. Mac Miller – Mac puts down a SOLID feature, and producer Larry Fisherman produces a bangin’ beat driven by bass so deep you could drown twice. He also makes Dolphin cry DJ drops the future of rap music.

10. “The Bloomingdales at Windshire Palace (skit)” – Again, RiFF RAFF channels his Vine performances into a rap skit, but the fact that the skit is 20 times longer than a Vine makes the content considerably less humorous.

11. “Time” – RiFF tries to get serious and exude a little country influence, but it’s when he actually tries to be serious that he seems to be the biggest joke. RiFF RAFF’s soul belongs in bangers, and we have the next track to prove it.

12. “How To Be The Man” – Here we have the first single released from the album, and a RiFF RAFF classic as far as I’m concerned. I don’t always enjoy DJ Mustard beats, but this one is on point, as are RiFF’s lyrics and flow. A definite must-listen if you haven’t touched the album yet.

13. “Cool it Down” feat. Amber Coffman – This track does as it’s titled: cools it down. We need a cool off after the fire brought from “How To Be The Man”, and Amber Coffman delivers. The beat is a balanced amount of chill, and still allows for RiFF to shout some standard RiFF RAFF lyrics. Having said all that, not much of the song piques my interest.

14. “VIP Pass To My Heart” – RiFF RAFF comes in on the autotune and doesn’t hold back with its implementation. Given the synth influenced beat, it actually works out great for the track as a whole. Solid song, but again not a banger like I would expect from RiFF.

15. “How To Be The Man” feat. Slim Thug & Paul Wall – An extended version of the single with verses laid down by some of RiFF RAFF’s Houston hip hop friends. I bet you don’t even remember Paul Wall since “Grillz”.

Photo: dailynewsen.com
Photo: dailynewsen.com

 

So what did I learn from Neon Icon? Well, RiFF RAFF is serious most simply. I mean he is a HUGE personality and some of the stuff he does is over the top, but he is still in it to win it. His music has some serious production on it, and at least half of the beats are perfect for the RiFF RAFF brand of hip hop. I think he could use some sense of focus on doing what he does best moving forward, but that will come with time. Until then, I’m content picking out his best tracks and wildin’ out to them.

What do you think of RiFF RAFF and his music? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @AndrewMackens. See you on the internet.

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