There's an idea floating around in the pools of rap consciousness that most guys within the genre are merely method actors on par with Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. Rick Ross might have already secured a few Academy Awards with his confusing portrayal of a flamboyant mafioso kingpin who dwells in matters of the absurd, but the meta of this? Watching someone else pull off the technique with little to no disparity.
We know RiFF RaFF. We love RiFF RaFF and also slightly despise what he represents. He belongs to Houston while belonging to the world. To date, I've yet to actually be involved in a hometown RiFF RaFF show, a crime against snob-blog humanity, I know.
He's a purist's absolute nightmare, even if he just had a hand in one of the year's best rap singles in "Bird On a Wire" with New York's Action Bronson. Bronson famously led a parade down Westheimer when he performed here back in September, so Jody Highroller is in elite company in that regard.
A conversation about him leads to a number of concepts being brought up the same way you'd expect bringing up an ex-girlfriend: beloved in some spaces, abhorred in others but still constant in your life because of his sheer existence. He's the Rap Game Marlon Brando with a dash of "Larry Bird" tossed in for good measure.
But, rap has its actors, and even though RiFF RaFF essentially got parodied by James Franco for the new film Spring Breakers* co-starring Gucci Mane (!), John McClain (yes, pitiful John McClain), Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson -- he can at least hold his head high above the fact he is one of rap's greatest method actors.
Along with these guys:
CHIEF KEEF Supposedly, Keef is public enemy No. 1, a distinct symbol of gun violence and bait for any rap label scurrying to pick up on controversy for dollar signs. After a Pitchfork interview with him in a gun range was found to be in violation of his probation, Keef reportedly dropped a few tears in court as he was sentenced to 60 days. Shedding no tears over your enemies but crying in the courthouse? How Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects of him.
LIL B Even if most are slowly drawing away from the powers of the BasedGod, he still pulls off things that are absolutely inane yet catchy. He still hasn't performed in Houston yet, which is a drag, but making sure his tabby cat gets screen time is bloody brilliant. Hell, he spent time attempting to join the Golden State Warriors last year -- if that isn't going deep to research a role for a new mixtape, then what is?
GUNPLAY It gets no more method than making your rap name Gunplay, then releasing random strange videos detailing your flirtations with drugs and fun at amusement parks, and then getting locked up for robbing your own accountant. Did Gunplay learn from his boss on the subject? Who knows, the guy has a swastika tattoo and could easily be one of the more beloved rappers in human existence if you played "Cartoons & Cereal" on a loop.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
*About that whole James Franco/RiFF RaFF thing, RiFF told MTV that he commends Franco's performance and hopes he wins a Grammy for it.