Get Out Of My Face
RiFF RAFF, AKA Jody Highroller, AKA Neon Icon, in his own words
As told to Jeff Weiss
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the August/September 2014 issue of XXL Magazine.

The Neon Icon needs no introduction. If RiFF RAFF didn’t exist, he could not have been invented, even if you had access to top-secret fluorescent shades from Crayola, a 1990s pop culture almanac and a Versace briefcase filled with extravagant and illicit powders. He is absurdly quotable and preposterously entertaining.

Over the last three years, the 32-year-old, burgundy-braided, zigzag-bearded, new face of British Knights has ascended from a freestyling curio on World Star Hip-Hop to a globetrotting rap star, collaborating with Chief Keef, Lil B, Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, Mac Miller and Diplo—the impresario of Mad Decent, which released Neon Icon in June. But RiFF RAFF’s iconography had already become immortal when James Franco swagger-jacked him for his Alien character in last year’s Spring Breakers.

Investigative reports have been dedicated to uncovering the details of RiFF RAFF’s upbringing in suburban Houston. He’s been subjected to enormous slander and even more adoration. But past details matter very little in the ongoing saga of Jody Highroller, the rap game’s Zack Morris, Janet Jackson and Dawson’s Creek.

His origins are bound to no region, time, nor tangible reality. He exists only as far as his Walt Disney-on-dope imagination can carry him. It’s only right then that RiFF RAFF should tell his story in his own words.

RiFF RAFF: i’VE BEEN THiS WAY SINCE i WAS A KiD. i’VE ALWAYS HAD GREAT iDEAS. AT 7 YEARS OLD, i BOUGHT A SEWING KiT AND CUT THE TAGS OFF MY GiRBAUD JEANS AND PUT A TAG ON THESE ORiENTAL BRiGHT BLUE BUGLE BOY JEANS, AND EVERYONE WAS LIKE, “DANG, i’VE NEVER SEEN THiS COLOR OF GiRBAUDS.”

i WAS ALWAYS BORED IN SCHOOL SO i USED TO PASS THE TiME BY BUYiNG STiNK BOMBS FROM THE GAS STATiON AND THROWiNG THEM iN THE BATHROOM BETWEEN CLASS. AS A KiD, MY FAVORiTE ADVENTURES WERE TO SKiP SCHOOL AND GO iNTO THE SEWAGE DRAiNS AND TALK TO THE TURTLES AND OPEN UP PACKS OF TOPPS STADiUM CLUB BASEBALL CARDS.

i ALSO LOVED PLAYiNG FOOTBALL ON THE SiDE OF THE HOUSE IN STARTER JACKETS. MY FAVORiTE COLOR WAS NEON PEACH. MY FAVORiTE BOOK WAS THE GiViNG TREE.

i KNEW i WAS AN iCON AT 5 MONTHS OLD, WHEN i WAS LAYiNG ON MY BACK iN A GROCERY CART AND i COULD SMELL THE APPLE JACKS WITH MY EYES CLOSED. iN HIGH SCHOOL, i USED TO DRiVE A MiTSUBiSHi DiAMANTE COTTON CANDY TEAL BLUE FiVE-SCREEN CAR, WiTH TWO 15S, A POP TRUNK GREY LEATHER FADE MiRROR TiNT.

i’VE BEEN PLAYiNG BASKETBALL SiNCE FOREVER. THE HiGHLiGHT OF MY HiGH SCHOOL CAREER WAS SCORiNG 51 POiNTS WITH 13 THREES iN A GAME.

i ALWAYS HATED COACHES WHO MADE ME RUN SUiCiDES, THE DRiLL SERGEANT-TYPE STUFF, GUYS WHO TOOK THE FUN AWAY. iT’S LIKE MUSIC. WHEN i FOCUS TOO MUCH ON WRiTiNG, i LIKE TO FREESTYLE TO KEEP iT FUN.

i’VE ALWAYS HATED BEiNG TOLD WHAT TO DO. i’M A GAME-TiME PLAYER. THE COACHES’ PETS WERE ALWAYS THE TYPES TO HiT LAYUPS iN PRACTiCE AND MiSS THEM iN THE GAME. NOT ME. i DON’T LiKE BEiNG TESTED. JUST PUT ME iN AND LET ME RUN. ANY TiME i WAS WiTH A COACH WHO UNDERSTOOD ME AND JUST LET ME PLAY, i’D SCORE 25 TO 30 POiNTS PER GAME. i’VE NEVER BEEN GOOD WHEN SOMEONE ELSE iS IN CONTROL OF MY SiTUATiON. i’VE ALWAYS BEEN AT MY BEST WHEN i’M THE PLAYER COACH. i DIDN’T WiN AWARDS; i’M THE GUY WHO GAVE THEM AWAY.

GROWiNG UP, i WAS ALWAYS AROUND EVERYBODY FROM SWiSHAHOUSE. i’VE KNOWN OG RON C FOR 14 YEARS, AND HE USED TO BE MY MANAGER. i KNOW PAUL WALL AND SLiM THUG—THEY’RE ON “HOW TO BE THE MAN” ON NEON iCON. i NEVER SAiD OR CLAiMED TO BE A GANGSTA. i NEVER DiD ANYTHiNG BUT FREESTYLE, AND NOW i’M WRiTiNG SONGS AND MAKING ALBUMS. i’VE NEVER CLAiMED OR SAiD THAT i’M FROM HOUSTON EVEN THOUGH i WAS BORN AND LiVED THERE. i’M NOT TRYING TO REPRESENT FOR ANYONE BUT MYSELF.

i ALWAYS KNEW i WAS DESTiNED FOR GREATNESS BECAUSE GREATNESS iS WiTHiN. i MOVED TO L.A. FROM HOUSTON A FEW YEARS AGO BECAUSE OF THE HOLLYWOOD LiFE: FAST CARS, WHiTE SAND BEACHES AND BiKiNiS GALORE. i DiDN’T HAVE TO MOVE FROM HOUSTON TO BLOW UP. i JUST ALWAYS WANTED TO TRAVEL ACROSS THE SEVEN SEAS AND BE A WORLDWIDE VERSACE GLOBETROTTER.

iF YOU DiDN’T KNOW, RiFF RAFF IS JODY HiGHROLLER. i JUST HAVE 50-11 NAMES, BUT i’M STiLL THE NEON iCON ALL DAY.

i SiGNED TO MAD DECENT BECAUSE THEY AREN’T A RAP LABEL. THEY HAVE MORE OF A NEON GLOBAL OUTLOOK JUST LiKE ME. i DON’T WANT TO BE STUCK iN A RAP SCENE WHERE i’M NOT REALLY ACCEPTED (NOT THAT i CARE). BUT LET’S BE HONEST. i’M MORE OF A WORLDWiDE iCON THAN A “RAPPER.”

WE’LL HAVE TO DO A VIDEO FOR EVERY SONG ON NEON iCON. THiS WiLL COST LiKE $1,000,000, BUT iT’S WELL WORTH MAD DECENT’S MONEY. THE MORE MONEY i MAKE, THE BETTER THE ViDEOS BECOME. i’M NOT WHERE i NEED TO BE YET. i HAVE A LOT OF ROOM TO iMPROVE.

ME AND DiPLO ARE FRiENDS. THAT’S ALWAYS GOOD WHEN YOU’RE DOING MUSiC; YOU DON’T WANNA BE AROUND PEOPLE WHO YOU DON’T GET ALONG WiTH. i MEAN, JUST RiGHT NOW, i SENT DIPLO A VERSE FOR OUR NEW SONG AND HE WAS LiKE, “DANG THIS iS THE BEST EVER.” i WAS LIKE, “LET’S GO THROW PiZZA AT PEOPLE FROM THE HOTEL BALCONY.”

i DON’T LiKE TO THiNK ABOUT THE PAST. i LiKE TO MOVE FORWARD AND THiNK ABOUT THE FUTURE AND THE GOOD THiNGS TO COME. iF i COULD GO BACK iN TiME AND SPEAK TO MY TEENAGED SELF, i’D TELL HIM THAT “EVERYTHiNG YOU THiNK iS RiGHT” AND THAT DREAMS DO COME TRUE. MY LiFE PHILOSOPHY iS FOCUS ON YOUR DREAMS.

iF ANYBODY HAS ANYTHiNG BAD TO SAY ABOUT ME, i SAY, “BOOM,” THE ANSWER IS NEON iCON. GO LiSTEN TO THE ALBUM, iN STORES NOW. iT’S SO VERSATiLE, AND i MADE SURE THAT EVERY SONG WASN’T ALL RAP SO YOU CAN’T PUT ME iN A CATEGORY AND SAY i’M JUST SOME RAPPER. i’M A MUSICIAN. i’M AN ARTIST. YOU CAN’T EVEN PUT ME IN THE RAP CATEGORY BECAUSE i MADE A COUNTRY SONG, A RAP-ROCK SONG, ONE WITH ELECTRO ViBES. YOU CAN SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT ABOUT ME, BUT JUDGE ME ON THE MUSiC.

i STILL HAVE GOALS i WANT TO ACHiEVE, BUT i’D RATHER SHOW PEOPLE THAN TELL THEM. THAT SAiD, i WANT TO GO TO THE MTV VMAS WITH KATY PERRY AND WiN MULTiPLE AWARDS. i ALSO WANT TO BE iN EVERY MOViE AND ON BiLLBOARD SiGNS AND CREATE FASHiON.

PEOPLE WON’T BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND ME UNTiL i’M LIKE HUGH HEFNER OR RiCHARD BRANSON, TO WHERE i’M ABLE TO BUY AN iSLAND AND FLY A HUGE JET AND OPERATE AND MOVE HOW i WANT. i’M NOWHERE NEAR WHERE i’M GOING TO BE iN THE FUTURE.