Music, Singles

Track of the Week: RiFF RAFF’s “How To Be The Man (Texas Remix)”

Editor’s Note: We at Smash Cut are a fan of the occasional gimmick. As this article focuses on the rapper RiFF RAFF, who writes entirely in all caps with the exception of the letter I, we’ve decided to mimick his style. However, because we have some common courtesy, here’s a link to a site which allows you to view the post without the hassle of all caps. But we believe in you, readers. We know you can make it. RiFF RAFF believes in you too.

https://i2.wp.com/blogs.villagevoice.com/music/RiffRaffTweets.jpg

BY NATHAN SMiTH, THE RAP GAME FiLM CRiT HULK

RiFF RAFF. THE NEON iCON. JODY HiGHROLLER. AT RiSK OF TURNiNG iNTO THE RAP GAME CHiNESE DEMOCRACY, THE RAPPER BORN HORST CHRiSTiAN SiMCO DROPS HiS LONG-DELAYED DEBUT ALBUM TWO TUESDAYS FROM THE NEXT. A LOT OF PEOPLE LiKE RiFF RAFF. A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T. BUT THOSE WHO DO GENERALLY GET WHAT’S GOiNG ON. SOME PEOPLE THiNK HE’S JUST STUPiD, BUT i DON’T THiNK YOU CAN DiSCOUNT JODY SO EASiLY. HE LiVES iN A UNiVERSE OF UNABASHED RiDiCULOUSNESS, A GALAXY OVERFLOWiNG WiTH ALL NEON EVERYTHiNG, A MAGiCAL LAND WHERE EVERY BAT BOY HAS A MATCHiNG BATPHONE. THE MAN KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT HE’S DOiNG. HE’S A GOLDEN CHiLD WITH A HOLOGRAM ON HiS HAND. HE’S SOMEHOW THE WHiTE EDDiE MURPHY AND THE WHiTE CHRiS ROCK. HE’S EVEN iN A RAP GROUP WiTH ANDY MiLONAKIS. RiFF RAFF’S OVER-THE-TOP FLAiR SPARKED MY iNiTIAL iNTEREST, BUT LATELY, i’VE STARTED TO UNCOVER A LiTTLE SOMETHING ELSE i LIKE ABOUT HIS STYLE.

HOUSTON RAP PROBABLY PEAKED ON A NATiONAL SCALE WiTH THE RELEASE OF CHAMiLLiONAiRE’S “RiDiN’ DiRTY.” ACTUALLY, THAT’S NOT TRUE. iT PEAKED WiTH “WHiTE N’ NERDY.” WHiLE HOUSTON HASN’T EVER DOMiNATED HiP-HOP STYLiSTiCALLY, CHOPPED AND SCREWED HAS HAD A TREMENDOUS iNFLUENCE ON MUSIC iN THE PAST 15 YEARS. FROM CLOUD RAP TO JERSEY CLUB TO VAPORWAVE, TRACKS OF ALL TYPES FiND THEMSELVES TOUCHED BY THE GHOST OF DJ SCREW. UNFORTUNATELY, HOUSTON RAP TENDS TO GET SWEPT UNDER THE ALL-TOO-BROAD LABEL OF “SOUTHERN RAP.” YOU COULD MAKE COMPARiSONS TO OTHER CiTiES, BUT LiKE BARBEQUE, EACH EPiCENTER OF SOUTHERN RAP HAS iTS OWN UNiQUE FLAVOR. YOU DON’T LOOK FiRST TO BATON ROUGE FOR CHOPPED AND SCREWED OR NASHViLLE FOR CRUNK, JUST LiKE YOU WOULDN’T ORDER BRiSKET iN SOUTH CAROLiNA OR BURNT ENDS iN TENNESSEE.

THAT BEiNG SAiD, THE iNTERNET HAS DONE A GREAT DEAL TO BREAK DOWN RAP REGiONALiSM. SPECiFiC GENRES ARE NOW NOT NECESSARiLY LOCATiON-BASED. YET THANKS TO HiP-HOP’S ENDLESS FETiSH FOR THE OLD SCHOOL, WE STiLL THiNK ABOUT OUR MUSiC GEOGRAPHiCALLY. G-FUNK, LiL B, AND MACKLEMORE ALL STEM FROM THE WEST COAST, BUT WHAT DO YOU THiNK ABOUT FiRST WHEN YOU HEAR THE TERM “WEST COAST HiP-HOP”? AS HUMANS WE LiKE TO THiNK CATEGORiCALLY, BUT THAT’S A TENDENCY WE SHOULD COMBAT.

THiS iS SORT-OF HOW i FEEL ABOUT HOUSTON. THANKS TO DJ SCREW (AND CODEiNE), HOUSTON RAP HAS A SOUND AND SLANG ALL iTS OWN. THOSE SONIC SPECiALTiES GET LOST, HOWEVER, WHEN YOU START TO GROUP VASTLY DiFFERENT AREAS UNDER THE SAME UMBRELLA TERM. THiNKiNG ABOUT HiP-HOP iN TERMS OF COASTS OR REGiONS iS EASY. iT’S A WAY TO DiSENGAGE WiTH WHAT WE THiNK WE WON’T LiKE. AND THAT’S WHAT BRiNGS ME BACK TO RiFF RAFF.

RiFF RAFF MiGHT BE A DiFFiCULT ARTiST FOR MANY PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND, BUT HERE’S WHAT i’VE STARTED TO APPRECiATE ABOUT HiM. YOU MAY NOT THiNK OF RiFF RAFF AS A HOUSTON RAPPER, A SOUTHERN RAPPER, OR EVEN A GOOD RAPPER, BUT LATELY HE’S TRiED TO USE HiS GROWiNG STATURE TO BRiNG A LiTTLE SHiNE TO HiS HOMETOWN. THROUGH THE RECENT “TEXAS REMiX” OF HiS SONG “HOW TO BE THE MAN,” HE HELPS DiSPLAY WHAT MAKES HOUSTON UNiQUE. i’M A TEXAS BOY, SO THiS ESPECiALLY HiTS HOME WiTH ME. THE “TEXAS REMiX” TRiGGERS MEMORiES OF GOiNG TO THE DiSCOVERY CHANNEL STORY iN HOUSTON’S GALLERiA SHOPPiNG MALL AS A KiD, OR MY DiSCOVERY OF THE UNiVERSiTY OF HOUSTON’S ATTEMPTS TO DOCUMENT THE LEGACY OF DJ SCREW. WHiLE RAP DiDN’T START TO CHANGE MY LiFE UNTIL AFTER i LEFT THE LONE STAR STATE DURiNG MY HiGH SCHOOL YEARS, MY iNiTiAL iNTEREST iN THE GENRE HAD A LOT TO DO WITH DJ SCREW. i BECAME FASCiNATED WiTH THE CONCEPT OF MiXTAPES LATE iN MiDDLE SCHOOL, PARTiCULARLY THE HOUSTON HiP-HOP PIONEER’S SCREWTAPES, AND THAT LED ME TO EXPLORE RAP MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. i CAN’T SAY THAT i’M A BiG FAN OF PAUL WALL OR SLiM THUG, BUT “HOW TO BE THE MAN (TEXAS REMiX)” TAKES ME HOME iN iTS OWN SPECiAL WAY.

WHEN YOU HEAR THE NAME RiFF RAFF, YOU MiGHT JUST THiNK SPRiNG BREAKERS, BUT FOR ME HE’S A REAL RAP GAME STEPHEN F. AUSTiN. A TRUE TRAiLBLAZER AND PiONEER. RiFF RAFF BRiNGS TOGETHER A THOUSAND DiSPARATE STYLES OF MUSiC AND COMBINES TRAP, EDM, A SPLASH OF CODEiNE, AND EVEN CLASSIC ROCK iNTO SHiMMERiNG AND OFTEN HiLARiOUS POP MUSiC. ALTHOUGH iT MiGHT NOT EVEN BE A CONSCiOUS GOAL, i’D LIKE TO THiNK THAT RiFF RAFF WANTS TO BRiNG BACK HOUSTON’S GLORY AND ESTABLISH A NEW LEGACY FOR THE 713, SEPARATE FROM THE SAME-OLD STORY OF SOUTHERN RAP. TOO LONG HAS THE GOLDEN CHiLD’S FAiR CiTY BEEN SLEPT ON. iT’S TIME US TEXANS HAD A RAP ANTHEM TO CALL OUR OWN.

SO PLEASE JODY, JUST MAYBE DROP A CHOPPED AND SCREWED VERSiON OF NEON iCON, WiLL YA? iT’S YOUR DUTY AS MY HOME STATE’S MOST BASED SON.

(ON A TOTALLY UNRELATED NOTE, i FOR SOME REASON FEEL LiKE i HAVE MET PAUL WALL.)

RiFF RAFF’s NEON iCON DROPS ON JUNE 24TH iN THE UNiTED STATES AND REPUBLiC OF TEXAS ViA MAD DECENT. “HOW TO BE THE MAN (TEXAS REMiX)” FEATURES SLiM THUG, PAUL WALL, AND PRODUCTiON FROM DJ MUSTARD.

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