“To like my music you have to be not a normal public civilian pedestrian. If you understand and are in the same thought realm as I, a tattoo of ink of my face on the skin is a minor detail in the overall original kaleidoscope of flustered complexity. The dream producer themself who got the tattoo got not only Jody Highroller, but a symbol of neon deep dreamy thoughts producing within one’s mind.”
That’s what Riff Raff told us when we showed him the above pictured tattoo one of his fans had recently gotten. Here at XXL, we’re mesmerized by just about everything Riff Raff, so when we came across this new tattoo, we had to see what Riff thought about it. But since we had no idea what the hell he was talking about, we moved on to Plan B. Meet 22-year-old Jon Phillips, who just got his first piece of ink: a portrait of Jody Highroller smack dab in the middle of his forearm. We caught up with Jon and his tattoo artist, Michael Martinez, to get the scoop on just how and why this happened. —As told to Neil Martinez-Belkin (@Neil_MB)
So what possessed you to get a tattoo of Riff Raff?
Jon: We were basically just sitting in Mike’s shop one day, and usually he has appointments or just waits for people to come in, but he didn’t have any appoinments that day. We were listening to Riff Raff at the time, of course, and Mike said, “Why don’t you just get a Riff Raff tattoo?” And I was like “I’m down.”
Mike: I kinda made him do it [laughs]. I’ve been wanting to do a Riff Raff portrait for a while now, and when I told him that, he was down. I was like, “C’mon you’re not paying for it, man, it’s whatever.” I’m actually supposed to be getting a sidepiece of Riff Raff sometime in the next week or so.
Wait—you’re getting a Riff Raff tattoo as well?
Mike: Yeah. One of the people I work with is an amazing illustrative artist, so he’s like mushing together a million different pictures to make this giant Riff Raff tattoo. It’s gonna have [Riff's pet python] Shelley and like a whole bunch of his chains and everything. I’m pretty excited for it.
Do you have any other tattoos of famous people?
Mike: I don’t. Riff Raff will be my first one. I’ve done a lot of portraits. My brother got a Young Jeezy. My other friend got an Ice Cube one. Wait, actually I do have one. I got an Eazy E portrait, which is like a vector portrait. I did that when I was like 15 on my leg. It was one of my first tattoos.
Jon, getting your first tattoo seems like it could be kind of a nerve-wracking. Did you have any doubts about going through with it?
Jon: No, I think it’s pretty dope. I don’t have any regrets of getting it. You know, I’ve wanted to get tattoos for a while, but I just didn’t know what to get. Then when Mike suggested I just get a Riff Raff tattoo I thought, “To hell with it, I might as well.”
What kind of feedback have you gotten since getting the tattoo?
Jon: I told my mom that I got a tattoo and she didn’t really say anything. She just sort of sighed and was like, Oh, when you get older, yada yada yada, that whole story. And then I told my friends back home and they were like, “Who’s that?” They didn’t know who he was. And then when they realized it was the guy from [MTV reality show] From G’s to Gents they were stoked.
Mike: There’s been a lot of haters dissing Jon and then dissing me, saying, “Oh that’s a crappy tattoo” or “Why would you get that on your arm?” We really don’t give a fuck. I respect Riff Raff for what he’s done over the past two years. He blew up and I love that.
What is it about Riff Raff that you guys like so much?
Mike: I would pretty much just say he’s the most original rapper to ever come up. I don’t think there’s anything to say to really describe him. He’s just doing him and there’s no one like him at all. Lyrically he comes up with shit that people can’t even understand, so that’s why some people think he’s fucking retarded.
Jon: All around I just think he’s just pretty dope. Even though he’s goofy and stuff, his shit is pretty tight, and he says funny stuff like he’s gonna slap-box a penguin or whatever.