Photography By: Lucas Farrar (@MrFarFetched)

Backstage at Riff Raff’s Neon Icon Tour stop at Irving Plaza in New York City, the self-proclaimed “Rap Game Bon Jovi” is 30 minutes away from his performance. With a crowd at near-capacity chanting his name, Riff looks relaxed while passing a joint among his crew that includes his stylist and his brother, pro snowboarder Viktor Simco. As DJ Grandtheft warms up the crowd with select electronic cuts, Riff moves to the next room for pictures with his puppy, Jody Husky. With his bright banana-themed outfit and matching LeBrons, Riff and The Neon Puppy took some great photos, many of them featuring Riff’s specialized shark tooth grill and the large Mad Decent chain he’s been rocking lately. Cold as ice.

Seated near the stage entrance, Jody Highroller is more calm and collected than his usual self as he preps for showtime. Generally, the always-entertaining Riff Raff is outlandish and often comedic—just watch him recounting his date with Katy Perry while squeezing another chick’s booty—but this time he’s saving his energy. Maybe it’s for the ruckus of the crowd that awaits him, or maybe he’s just tired from getting pigeonholed into always having to turn it on and turn things up. Whatever the case, Riff’s known to not let things bring him down. In fact, he's been telling people for about a year now that his Mad Decent debut, Neon Icon, tentatively due out next month, will show and prove that he’s an EDM/hip-hop artist that should be taken seriously. A few selected tracks are expected to premiere this evening: “Tip Toe In My Jordans,” “Castle Around My Heart” featuring Wiz Khalifa and a new Action Bronson collaboration.

Just 10 minutes before Riff entered the stage, XXL spoke with him about touring across the country, why he deserves to be a 2014 XXL Freshman, his new album and much more. Jody Husky approved. —Eric Diep