Neon Icon

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Neon Icon
Studio album by Riff Raff
Released June 24, 2014
Recorded 2012–2014
Genre Hip hop
Length 47:28
Label Mad Decent
Producer Riff Raff (exec.), Diplo (also exec.), Atira, Deezus, DJA, DJ Mustard, Harry Fraud, Larry Fisherman, Mike Dez, Raf Riley, Top Secret Productions
Riff Raff chronology
The Golden Alien
(2012)
Neon Icon
(2014)
Singles from Neon Icon
  1. "How to Be the Man"
    Released: November 26, 2013
  2. "Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz"
    Released: June 10, 2014

Neon Icon is the debut studio album by American rapper Riff Raff. The album was released on June 24, 2014, by Mad Decent. Riff Raff enlisted many collaborators during the album's recording process, though he would end up only including Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Paul Wall, Amber Coffman, Mike Posner, and Slim Thug on the album's final version. Production was handled by DJA, Larry Fisherman, DJ Mustard, Raf Riley and Harry Fraud among others, as well as Diplo who executive produced the album. Neon Icon was supported by the singles "How to Be the Man" and "Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz".

Background[edit]

Following the release of his mixtape Hologram Panda with producer Dame Grease, Riff Raff told MTV that his upcoming Mad Decent studio album would be titled Riff Raff, The Neon Icon which was later shortened to Neon Icon.[1] In an August 2013 interview with XXL, Riff Raff explained the album's title saying, "It’s like a whole new world that’s just all me. From going from nothing to becoming this shining star...so I mean, yeah, Neon Icon is just neon everything. It can’t be stopped."[2]

He would also explain the album's diversity to XXL saying, "People think it’s gonna be all pretty much just hip hop music, trap music, whatever. I’m gonna have some country songs on there, some rock songs and everything like that. And I’m fading more towards that way, so it’s gonna put people in a position where they can’t even compare me to nobody."[2]

Recording and production[edit]

In February 12, 2013, Riff Raff took to Twitter to reveal collaborations with rappers Drake and A$AP Rocky, set to appear in his upcoming second studio album Neon Icon, uploading single photos to Instagram with both rappers respectively.[3] The next month, on March 10, 2013 Riff Raff announced that the album, would also feature Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, YG, Snoop Dogg, and Future.[4][5] Throughout the next year he announced through his Twitter as well as in multiple interviews many other artists who would also be appearing on his debut album including Action Bronson, Asher Roth, Bun B, Childish Gambino, Fitz and The Tantrums, Future, Juicy J, Mac Miller, Mike Posner, Paul Wall, Skylar Grey, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, YG and 2 Chainz.[4][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] It was also announced that his album would feature production from Lex Luger, Larry Fisherman, DJ Mustard, TrapZillas and Skrillex as well as Diplo who was also executive producing the LP.[12][13]

In November 2013, Riff Raff told Entertainment Weekly that he had recorded over 100 songs during the album's recording process.[14] Following working with Clinton Sparks on his song "Stay With You Tonight", the two completed a song titled "A Spike Lee Joint" for Neon Icon.[15] He also stated that Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors would appear on the album.[16] The final track listing revealed that the album would feature previously announced collaborations including Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Paul Wall, Mike Posner and Amber Coffman, as well as Slim Thug.[17] The track "Versace Python" was meant to feature a verse from Wiz Khalifa, however Atlantic Records refused to clear the vocals in a timely manner, which resulted in it being cut from the album version, although the alternate version was released by the label in the weeks preceding the album's release.[18]

Release and promotion[edit]

On June 16, 2013, Riff Raff announced that Neon Icon would be released in September 2013.[19] On August 12, 2013, he told The Source that the album would be released in mid-October 2013.[20] However, during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards he told XXL that the album would be released on September 24, 2013, the same day as Drake's Nothing Was the Same album.[21] However in September, Riff Raff implied that the album would be released in October 2013.[22][23] On October 3, 2013, he announced on his Twitter account that the album would be released on January 28, 2014, one day before his 32nd birthday.[24] However, on January 26, 2014 Riff Raff confirmed that the album had been pushed back to an unknown date and urged his fans to ask Diplo on Twitter when the album would be released.[25][26] Then on February 24, 2014, Riff Raff announced that the album would be released during April 2014.[27] A release date of April 29, 2014 was confirmed the following month.[16] On April 28, 2014, Diplo tweeted that the album would be released during June 2014.[28]

Starting on July 24, 2013 through September 2, 2013, Riff Raff toured North America on the Neon Icon Summer Tour.[29] He would extend the tour from September 28-October 26, 2013.[30] He then followed that with the Birth of an Icon tour which continued through the end of 2013.[6] In September 2013, he was featured on the cover of both the LA Weekly and Houston Press leading up to the album's release.[31][32] He told Complex in August 2013 that he will be shooting a music video for every single song on his album.[33] On October 30, 2013, Riff Raff teamed up with MySpace to release a commercial in promotion of the album as well as its next single "How to Be the Man", a behind the scenes look at the filming of the commercial was also posted on Riff Raff's official MySpace page.[34]

In November 2013, Riff Raff told Rolling Stone in an interview that leading up to the album's release he would release various "left-over" tracks from the album's recording sessions[35] These notably included the Boi-1da produced "Real Boyz", featuring rappers OJ da Juiceman and Cap 1, as well as "Suckas Askin' Questions" with Lil Debbie and "Shoulda Won a Grammy" with Action Bronson.[36] In March 2014, prior to the album's release, Rolling Stone included the album on there list of "27 Must-Hear Albums of 2014".[37] On May 20, 2014, Riff Raff announced through his Twitter that after much delay, Neon Icon was scheduled for a June 24, 2014 release date.[38] On June 30, 2014, Riff Raff released the official remix to "2 Girls 1 Pipe" featuring Frankie Palmeri of Emmure.[39]

Singles[edit]

On June 25, 2013 he released a single titled "Dolce & Gabbana" , produced by DJ Carnage as the first single from Neon Icon, however two days later he announced that the song wouldn't be included on the album.[40][41][42] The music video for "Dolce & Gabbana" was released on September 17, 2013.[41] On November 26, 2013 he released the first official single for Neon Icon titled "How To Be the Man" and produced by DJ Mustard.[43] The music video for "How to Be the Man" was released on May 20, 2014.[44] On June 5, 2014, the music video was released for "How to Be the Man" (Remix).[45] On June 27, 2014, the music video was released for "Introducing the Icon".[46] The album's second single "Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz" was released on June 10, 2014.[47]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 61/100[48]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[49]
Consequence of Sound C+[50]
HipHopDX 1/5 stars[51]
Now 3/5 stars[52]
Pitchfork Media 5.4/10[53]
PopMatters 7/10[54]
Rolling Stone 1/5 stars[55]
Spin 8/10[56]
XXL 3/5 (L)[57]
Vibe (positive)[58]

Upon its release, Neon Icon was met with generally positive reviews from music critics. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 61, based on 14 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[48] David Jeffries of AllMusic gave the album four out of five stars, saying "the ever-shifting music, the endless supply of quotables, and the wonderful mashing of indie beats, oddball lyrics, ICP theatrics, and stadium-party rap hooks beats up on the "talentless" argument hard."[49] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times said, "At his best, he’s a master of psychedelic free association, with non sequitur lyrics full of 10-point words that are rapped as if he had come up with the idea for the line just after it began, then rushed to finish it on beat [...] Indeed, Neon Icon is a fine hip-hop album from someone who seemed as if he’d make anything but. It’s dispiriting to hear Riff Raff contort himself into the shape of a mediocre pop-rap song like “Maybe You Love Me” or to be scraped clean of all his idiosyncrasy on “Time,” an otherwise amusing country-rap tune."[59] Adam Narkiewicz of The Quietus stated, "RiFF RaFF is a one off, and Neon Icon is that rare product of a rapper in the modern world – an album that perfectly encompasses everything they became loved for on their come up, amplified to the glorious maximum, aiming confidently into the future."[60]

Lizzie Plaugic of CMJ said, "What prevents Neon Icon from completely imploding under the weight of its own surreality is the fact that, when he wants to, Riff Raff really can rap, and he has a way of making words do what he wants. [...] Neon Icon is the weight the internet has left us with. It’s a much-delayed product of Tumblr art, Big Brother reality TV, corporate worship and urban fetishism. Or, maybe it’s pushing against these things. I dunno, whatever, at least it’s pretty fun."[61] Jordan Sowumi writing for Now said, "His freestyle flow, along with a propensity for hooks that occasionally exude longing and pathos, have always been Riff Raff’s biggest strengths, and they turn up here, too, especially on poignant "Versace Python" and riotously funny 'Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz'."[52] Pat Levy of Consequence of Sound stated, "While Neon Icon likely won’t be the push that RiFF needs into the public consciousness, it certainly won’t hurt his reputation."[50] Austin Reed of Pretty Much Amazing said, "I spent an embarrassing amount of time laugh-dancing throughout the runs I made through Neon Icon. Like I was possessed by the Dustin Diamond of demonic entities. This album gets a C+ because I really enjoyed the time I spent hating it."[62]

David Drake of Pitchfork Media wrote, "irony and irreverence can only do so much lifting on a record this thin. Neon Icon is hardly an affront to hip-hop’s very foundation; instead, it’s an adequate, listenable rap album, and for a part-time rapper/full-time jaw-dropper, there couldn’t be a more damning outcome."[53] Jesse Fairfax of HipHopDX stated, "Neon Icon seems aimless and not very well thought out. There are occasional hilarious moments; he throws pesos at strippers and refers to himself as “The White Wesley Snipes.” Riff ratchets up the oddity factor and gets creativity points for rhyming over Mac Miller’s sparse piano keys and the sound of a skittering dolphin (“Aquaberry Dolphin”). But on face value, Neon Icon is neither entertaining as sheer parody, nor a passable attempt at making a sincere Hip Hop album when judged by its merits."[51] Justin Block of XXL said, "The final Neon Icon product is merely 15 songs picked in the hope of just one catching some crossover play. There are many opportunities on this album for that. But on the whole, it’s completely incohesive and difficult to listen to. In some ways, Neon Icon is a sunk cost album after delays and the sheer amount of material recorded. It pans out as—at the very least—a unique and varied production that asks to be received seriously, even if Riff Raff’s choppy, uneasy flow and absurdist imagery runs counter to that"[57]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number 22 on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 11,524 copies in the United States.[63]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s)[64] Length
1. "Introducing the Icon"   H. Simco, B. Down Deezus 4:06
2. "Kokayne"   H. Simco, T. Pentz Diplo 3:02
3. "Wetter Than Tsunami"   H. Simco, R. Greifer Raf Riley 3:16
4. "Jody 3 Moons" (skit) H. Simco, D. Allen DJA 1:26
5. "Versace Python"   H. Simco, T. Pentz, B. Jines Atira, Diplo 3:03
6. "Lava Glaciers" (featuring Childish Gambino) H. Simco, R. Quigley, D. Glover Harry Fraud 3:52
7. "Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz"   H. Simco, R. Story Top Secret Productions 4:04
8. "Maybe You Love Me" (featuring Mike Posner) H. Simco, M. Posner, D. Allen DJA 2:57
9. "Aquaberry Dolphin" (featuring Mac Miller) H. Simco, M. McCormick Larry Fisherman 2:14
10. "The Bloomingdales at Windshire Palace" (skit) H. Simco   1:40
11. "Time"   H. Simco, D. Allen DJA 3:39
12. "How to Be the Man"   H. Simco, D. McFarlane DJ Mustard 2:53
13. "Cool It Down" (featuring Amber Coffman) H. Simco, T. Pentz, M. Abundes, A. Coffman Diplo, Mike Dez 2:55
14. "VIP Pass to My Heart"   H. Simco, D. Allen DJA 3:33
15. "How to Be the Man (Houston Remix)" (featuring Slim Thug and Paul Wall) H. Simco, D. McFarlane, S. Thomas, P. Slayton DJ Mustard 4:18

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Neon Icon adapted from AllMusic.[65]

  • Childish Gambino - featured artist
  • Amber Coffman - featured artist
  • Anna Yvette - producer
  • Atira - producer
  • Beau Billionaire - producer
  • Mike Dez - producer
  • Deezus - producer
  • Diplo - producer
  • DJ Mustard - producer
  • DJA - producer
  • Harry Fraud - producer
  • Jaime "Jimmy Cash" Lepe - mastering, mixing
  • Van Jazmin - cover image
  • Mac Miller - featured artist, producer
  • Mike Posner - featured artist
  • RiFF RAFF - primary artist
  • Raff Riley - producer
  • Slim Thug - featured artist
  • Top Secret - producer
  • Paul Wall - featured artist

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[66] 22
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[67] 6
US Top Rap Albums (Billboard)[68] 4

References[edit]

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