“I’m not, like, ‘comedy rapping,'” outlandish hip-hop artist Riff Raff tells Rolling Stone about his forthcoming record, Neon Icon. “I tried to keep on point as much as possible.”
Riff Raff calls the LP his “first real album,” since he self-released his previous offering, The Golden Alien. He’s excited to get Neon Icon out to the public, but right now he has to wait because legal paperwork delayed the album’s initial January release date.
Nevertheless, he’s vouching wholeheartedly for the record, even though the track list is still coming together. “This album is my best work,” he says. “It’s got my best tracks. I got features from the real artists and stuff.”
As promised, Neon Icon includes guest appearances by a who’s who of artists working in and around the EDM and rap game. Although it’s not clear which songs will make the final track list, Wiz Khalifa pops up on “Versace Python,” Clinton Sparks pipes in on “A Spike Lee Joint” and Action Bronson weighs in on “crazy song” “I Shoulda Won a Grammy.” Elsewhere, Skyler Grey and 2 Chainz are each rumored to have contributed to as-yet-untitled tracks, as are Skrillex, Noah “40” Shebib and DJ Mustard as producers.
Neon Icon has been in the works for the past two years, a fact that Riff Raff isn’t currently sweating. “We wanted to get 30 tracks to pick from for the album, so over two years, we figured out the best tracks and now we can narrow it down,” he says. “What is it, 13 or something? It was time to drop the album.”
Overall, Riff Raff is looking at Neon Icon as his intro; a way to convey his “feelings and vibes.” “If you’re an artist or a musician, you should give off a certain vibe, and [the ones who do it best] are, like, icons,” he says. “It’s a certain vibe that you can’t get from walking down the street and meeting people. So when someone hears the album, I want them to feel my vibe and feel something they never felt with another artist.”
The person who helped Riff Raff invocate such moods was Diplo, who splits production duties with Riff Raff and doubles as the album’s co-executive producer. “I was looking at the things he did, and I saw the world that he’s in,” Riff Raff says. “He’s one of the top people in the EDM world. I saw the EDM world and wanted to be in that more than the hip-hop world.”
Beyond music, Riff Raff is currently entertaining acting roles, including spots in a couple of movies and TV shows. “I’m ready for movies, TV and everything,” says the former star of From G’s to Gents. “That’s what I want to do.”
But what he is doing is music. The rapper is preparing for both the release of his album and an upcoming 50-city international tour. In the interim, he hopes to release select songs that didn’t make the album’s final cut. “I want drop a few random songs that aren’t mixed,” says the rapper. “Like album-working songs, songs that I [didn’t put on Neon Gold] to get all these good tracks. Get them out there. Might as well.”
For now, Riff Raff is still wrapping his mind around putting out his first real album. “I never had an album — never had mixed, mastered tracks — from a professional company, so I’m just proud of the whole thing,” he says. “It’s my best work and it’s my first professional work. I’m just excited to see what it does.”
Additional reporting by Mike Ayers.