Riff Raff (rapper)

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Riff Raff
Riff Raff.jpg
Riff Raff performing in December 2011
Background information
Birth name Horst Christian Simco
Also known as Jody Highroller, MTV RiFF RaFF, RiFF RaFF SODMG
Born (1982-01-29) January 29, 1982 (age 32) [1]
Houston, Texas
Origin Houston, Texas[2]
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper
Years active 2008–present
Labels Mad Decent (present)
SODMG (former)
Associated acts Three Loco, Action Bronson, Diplo, DJ Skee, Harry Fraud, Lil Debbie
Website jodyhighroller.com

Horst Christian Simco[3][4] (born January 29, 1982) better known by the stage name Riff Raff (often stylized as RiFF RAFF[5]), is a rapper from Houston, Texas.[2] He was originally managed by Swishahouse co-founder OG Ron C.[6] Then after being associated with Soulja Boy's imprint S.O.D. Money Gang Inc., Riff Raff is now signed to producer Diplo's record label Mad Decent.[7] He is also known for being a member of the rap group Three Loco along with Andy Milonakis and Dirt Nasty.[8] His second studio album Neon Icon is due for release during April 2014.

Early life

Riff Raff was born Horst Simco in Houston, Texas, on January 29, 1982 to parents Anita Simco, a maid, and Ronald Simco, a Vietnam War veteran with severe post-traumatic stress disorder who worked various jobs including being a police officer and a manager at Walmart.[1][9] His mother grew up in Ohio, descending from a family of German and Lithuanian Jews that includes several survivors, and victims, of the Holocaust.[10] Riff Raff was the second of four siblings.[1] He and his family lived in a ranch house located in the northwest suburbs of Houston, in an area called Copperfield about 25 miles outside of downtown.[1] Growing up he was obsessed with basketball, playing frequently with a group kids in his neighborhood.[1] By the middle of the decade, the Simcos had moved to a rental house in nearby Stone Creek, an area that had recently developed something of a gang problem.[1] He attended Langham Creek High School, where he was shooting guard on his school's basketball team, before dropping out senior year.[1] Shortly after he obtained his GED.[10]

Soon after his parents divorced and around the same time Ronald, his father, was diagnosed with tonsil cancer and moved north to get out of the heat, landing in Duluth, MN.[1] For a period of time Riff Raff and his siblings were shuttled back and forth between there and Houston, where their mother remained.[1] In 2001, he enrolled at Hibbing Community College in Hibbing, MN, where he played on the basketball team and majored in liberal arts.[1][10] Ultimately, though, he felt out of place in Hibbing and lasted only a month on the basketball team.[1] He dropped out in 2003 and moved back to Houston, where he found himself painting cars in the in-vogue "candy-colored" style and gradually beginning to build his new identity.[1] He would eventually settle in L.A. as he begun to take his rapping career seriously.[4]

Musical career

2008–2009: Beginnings

Riff Raff started rapping in 2005, making homemade CDs of him rapping over other artists beats, and passing them out at various malls in Houston. He credited his early influences being Texas veteran rappers Devin the Dude and Paul Wall.[11] Riff Raff took advantage of social media on Myspace, YouTube and WorldStarHipHop in late 2008, releasing songs, freestyle-videos, and sketch clips, which showcased his talent slapstick and performance art.[1] He did this with the help of his first talent manager, DB da Boss, whose studio provided recording and video services.[1] DB spoke with LA Weekly about the rapper, saying "He was very driven, very ambitious. You couldn't deny his work ethic," going on to say, "Underneath that shell is a very intelligent man."[1] He looked up to Northside Houston rappers from label Swishahouse, who were blowing up around that time, including Paul Wall, Chamillionaire and Slim Thug.[1] He began doing his hair up in braids popular among "Northsiders" like Slim Thug and shopping for bling at TV Jewelry, a store co-owned by Paul Wall and charismatic Vietnamese immigrant "TV" Johnny Dang, from whom Riff Raff also purchased gold grills.[1] Like many other artists from Houston, Riff Raff also spent much of his time selling CDs at colleges and malls, occasionally alongside other local talent such at Fat Tony and Freestyle Bully.[1]

In an effort to get on television he went on many auditions, including for a part in a peanut butter commercial intended for a teenager. He and his friend also tried out for P. Diddy's Making the Band, to no avail.[1] He was so determined to become famous that he flew to Atlanta to try out for MTV's reality show From G's to Gents. When he learned that he had made the cast for the program's second season, before taping had even begun, he immediately got a giant MTV logo tattooed on his neck and adjusted his stage name to "MTV Riff Raff". Though he was eliminated from the series on the second episode, he left an impression on viewers through his extravagant way of dressing and funny ad-libs.[1][12][13] Upon the season's debut in early 2009 appearance on the show would garner and immediate reaction to him, and catapulted his career.[1]

The same year actor, comedian and rapper Simon Rex noticed Riff Raff after being shown to him by notable producer The Alchemist.[1] Rex contacted Riff Raff after watching one of his freestyle videos in which he revealed his phone number, and soon enough the two became friends and began recording as Riff Raff and Dirt Nasty.[1] The pair later formed a rap group Three Loco along with comedian Andy Milonakis, increasing Riff Raff's popularity by tapping into the two celebrities' fan bases.[1][13]

2010–2012: SODMG, Mad Decent, Various mixtapes

Beginning in 2011, Riff Raff begun to be managed by OG Ron C of Swishahouse fame, and moved to Los Angeles.[1] Riff Raff then started releasing more music videos that furthered the artist's internet fame. Those include songs such as "Jose Canseco",[14] and "Marc Jacobs".[15] Then in mid-2011, Riff Raff signed to Soulja Boy's label S.O.D. Money Gang Inc..[16] Weirdly Riff Raff had joined Soulja Boy's SODMG label before they'd even met in person; no paperwork was ever signed. However, Riff Raff still wore the imprint's chain, getting its logo tattooed, and again adjusting his moniker, this time to Riff Raff SODMG.[1] They would remain affiliated for around a year, but the label did not push or pay Riff Raff, which would result in him leaving the label. Soulja Boy publicly called Riff Raff a "cokehead" following their split.[1][17]

Some time before the official split Riff Raff affiliated with producers such as Diplo and Harry Fraud, as well as with Queens rapper Action Bronson. The music video he released for his collaboration with Fraud and Bronson, "Bird on a Wire," generated quite a hype and hit the one million plays-mark in roughly two months.[18] "Bird on a Wire" was listed as the 27th best song of 2012 by Complex Music.[19]

In early 2012 he would release music videos for the songs, "Larry Bird",[5] "Time"[20] and the Chief Keef collaboration "Cuz My Gear", among others.[21] In April 2012, Riff Raff also announced working with Diplo on a collaborative album tentative titled Jody Highroller with confirmed guests Skrillex, Usher, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, Mystikal and Rusko.[22] In June 2012, Riff Raff released the Summer of Surf mixtape.[23] These events led into him officially signing with Diplo's label Mad Decent in June 2012.[24] The same year he released the album, The Golden Alien, independently in July.[25] It was followed by the release of the mixtape, Birth of an Icon, in August, which was listed by Stereogum as their "Mixtape of the Week."[26][27]

2013–present: Neon Icon

In February 12, 2013, Riff Raff took to twitter to reveal upcoming collaborations with rappers Drake and A$AP Rocky, set to appear in his upcoming second studio album Neon Icon, uploading single photos to Instagram with both rappers respectively.[28] Later that month he told Complex that his second studio album is due out during the third quarter of 2013.[29] On March 10, 2013 Riff Raff announced that, along with Drake and A$AP Rocky, the album will feature Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, YG, Snoop Dogg and Future.[30] Since then he has announced that rappers Juicy J, Bun B, Paul Wall, Action Bronson, Asher Roth, Mike Posner, Big Sean, 2 Chainz and DollaBillGates would also be appearing on the album along with indie pop band Fitz and The Tantrums and singer Skylar Grey.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38] It has also been announced that his second studio album will feature production from Lex Luger, Larry Fisherman, DJ Mustard, TrapZillas and Skrillex as well as Diplo who is also executive producing the LP.[35][38]

On June 25, 2013 he released "Dolce & Gabbana" the first single off Neon Icon.[39] Then he was featured on Far East Movement's single "The Illest". Then on July 12, 2013 he released an on-off single titled "Mr. Popular", not to be included on the album, and four days later released the music video for the song.[40][41] On September 17, 2013 he released the video for the single "Dolce & Gabana".[42] On August 25, 2013 he told XXL that the album would be released on September 24, 2013, the same day as Drake's Nothing Was the Same.[43] He told Complex that he will be shooting a music video for every single song on his album.[36] On November 26, 2013 he released the second single for Neon Icon titled "How To Be the Man" and produced by DJ Mustard.[44]

In August 2013, Riff Raff announced that he would be releasing a collaboration album with Action Bronson titled Galaxy Gladiators in 2014.[45][46] Riff Raff is being considered for the 2014 XXL freshman class.[47] On March 4, Riff Raff announced through his twitter that Neon Icon is scheduled for an April 29, 2014 release date.[48]

Spring Breakers controversy

On February 15, 2012 film director Harmony Korine contacted Riff Raff about appearing in an upcoming movie of his which would turn out to be Spring Breakers.[49] Once the details of the movie came out, there was speculation that the main character Alien was based on Riff Raff.[50] However according to James Franco, his character was based on the underground rap artist Dangeruss. He said "Of course Harmony and I looked at some of Riff Raff's videos as inspiration, but he was one of a number of people we looked at. I would say the biggest influence on the role was this local Florida rapper named Dangeruss. He's fairly unknown, but he was down there in the place, living the life, and he became the biggest model for me, and he's in the movie."[51]

After much back and forth between both camps about the issue, including Riff Raff appearing in a cameo for One Life to Live playing a character called "Jamie Franko".[52] Then during July 2013 Riff Raff announced he was suing the creators of Spring Breakers for 10 million dollars for sampling his life without his permission or a proper producer credit.[53] However, a search for court documents by LA Weekly in September 2013, resulted in no findings.[1]

Personal life

Riff Raff is known for his large amount of tattoos, which include the logos for WorldStarHipHop, MTV, NBA and BET.[10] He is a huge fan of The Simpsons, even getting a Bart Simpson chain and a tattoo of Bart holding test tubes that reads "The Freestyle Scientist" on his chest.[1] He also has a large gothic cross below his left shoulder, framed by a prayer rendered in cursive that reads, "Dear Jesus, Please Let Me In. Your Child, Horst Simco."[10]

Legal issues

On August 11, 2013, Riff Raff was arrested in Greensboro, North Carolina after police allegedly found an open container of alcohol, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle. Riff Raff was then booked into jail along with the two passengers in his vehicle, and was released without bail later that night.[54][55]


Studio albums

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
The Golden Alien
Neon Icon
  • Released: April 29, 2014
  • Label: Mad Decent
  • Format: CD, digital download
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.



  • The Texas Tornado (2009)
  • Never Ending Saturday (2009)
  • Party McHardy (2010)
  • Rookie of The Future (2010)
  • The Freestyle Scientist (2010)
  • Hilton Swag Vol. 1 (2010)
  • Sour & Gun Powder (2011)
  • Purple Haze & Hand Grenades (with Lean Team) (2011) [58]
  • Rap Game Bon Jovi (2012)
  • Summer of Surf (2012) [59]
  • Birth of an Icon (2012)
  • Hologram Panda (with Dame Grease) (2012)


As lead artist

List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart
US Rap
"Tiger Woods"[60] 2011 Non-album single
"Bat Phone"[61]
(feat. Ghetty)
2012 The Golden Alien
"Pat EWiNG"[62]
(feat. Ghetty)
Non-album singles
"Tiger Woods"[63]
(feat. The Kid Ryan & B.Wash)
"Ace of Space"[64] 2013
"Dolce and Gabbana"[39] Neon Icon
"Mr. Popular"[40] Non-album single
"How To Be the Man"[44] Neon Icon
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Collaborative singles

List of collaborative singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart
US Rap
"Hot Shots Part Deux"[65]
(with Action Bronson & Dana Coppafeel)
2012 Non-album singles
(with Ghetty)
"Brain Freeze"[67]
(with Lil Debbie)
Birth Of An Icon
"Non Stop"[68]
(with Andre Legacy)
2013 Non-album single
"Gotta Get Away"[69]
(with DollaBillGates)
Jumpin Out The Gym
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist

List of singles as featured performer, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart
US Rap
"Bird On A Wire"[70]
(Action Bronson feat. Riff Raff)
2012 Non-album singles
"You Never Know"[71]
(Bright Matter feat. Riff Raff)
"Money, Clothes, Jewellery"[72]
(Deezuz feat. Riff Raff)
(Dog Bus feat. Riff Raff)
"Michelle Obama"[74]
(Lil Debbie feat. Riff Raff)
"Rap Game James Franco (Salisbury Steak Sweater)"[75]
(Deezus feat. Riff Raff)
"The Illest"[76]
(Far East Movement feat. Riff Raff)
107 18 KTown Riot
"Visions of Coleco"[77]
(Hyper Crush feat. Riff Raff)
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Guest appearances

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"Bigger In Texas" 2010 Mic Feelz Fraggled Block
"It Don't Matter"
"Hide & Seek" 2011 Kid Sister Kiss & Tell
"One Take Tony" Johnny Mack, Nikki Nicole Self Destructive
"Bobby Fischer Leaned" Native Minds Hallowlean
"James Bond Blimp" Prof King Gampo
"Porsche Cayenne" 2012 B.A.R.S. Murre Chicken and Cake
"Cuz My Gear" Chief Keef N/A
"Space Jam" Daniel Dahmer Raw Crack from the Trap Vol. 1
"Rap Game Michelle Kwan" Dog Bus N/A
"Orion's Belt" Kitty Pryde Ha Ha, I'm Sorry
"Express Yourself Two Times" Laura Mikos N/A
"Squirt" Lil Debbie
"Juevos Rancheros" Meyhem Lauren Respect the Fly Shit
"Drinks on Me (Remix)" Millionaires Your Girl Does Party
"Rap Game Donut Sprinkles" Not the 1s N/A
"Cray" Toadally Krossed Out Jeffree's, Vol. 6
"Razor Blades" Trapzillas N/A
"Neon Freedom"
"Gold Chains" TrapZillas, Logic Ali, DJ Wonder, After The Smoke
"Droppd Out Uv School" Yung Houston The Return Of Prince Huey South
"Long Pinky" 2013 Beautiful Lou, Action Bronson N/A
"Golden Boys" Black Dave Black Bart
"Molly World" Bizarre Lace Blunts
"White" Casino N/A
"Alec Baldwin"[78] Caskey The Transient Classics
"Bad Habits" Charlie Bars The Statement
"Versace Salad"
"Turnt Up" Clinton Sparks, 2 Chainz My Awesome Mixtape 4
"Lickety Split" DAVEYLOW, B.A.R.S. Murre Hustlers 1st
"CROWN" Diplo, Action Bronson, Mr MFN eXquire, Nicky Da B Revoluton EP
"Rock Steady" Diplo, Mike Posner, Boaz Van De Beatz
"Twisted" Dirt Nasty, Andy Milonakis Palatial
"Bugatti (Skeemix)" DJ Skee N/A
"Karate Chop (Skeemix)"
"Genesis (Skeemix)"
"Like Whaaat (Skeemix)"
"R.I.P. (Skeemix)"
"Show Out (Skeemix)"
"Started from the Bottom (Skeemix)"
"Not At All" Doe Boy In Freebandz We Trust
"What You Mean (Remix)" N/A
"Fireworks" DollaBillGates Next Level Independence
"Fucked Up" FKi, Spodee Transformers N The Hood 2
"Trampoline (Remix)" Grandtheft, ETC! ETC!, 2 Chainz, Tinie Tempah N/A
"Yacht Lash" Harry Fraud, Earl Sweatshirt High Tide
"Woodpecker" Jefe Wine N/A
"Bout It Girl" Matt Shadetek The Empire Never Ended
"Sorry" Migos, Rich The Kid, OJ da Juiceman N/A
"Jumpin Out Da Gym (Remix)" Migos, Trinidad James Y.R.N. (Young Rich Niggas)
"I'm In Love With That Money" Peter Jackson, OJ da Juiceman N/A
"First Come" TKO Capone
"Caught Up" Trapzillas, Logic Ali
"All You Playas"
"Summer In the City" Trapzillas, Logic Ali, A-WAX
"College Girls" Trapzillas, Logic Ali, TKO Capone
"Rainy Day" Trapzillas, Logic Ali, Trouble Andrew
"Dirty Trunks" Trapzillas, Logic Ali, Trouble Andrew, Rob Coin
"Overdose" SD Life Of A Savage 3
"Nope" Snow Tha Product Good Nights & Bad Mornings 2: The Hangover
"Hella Gone" Spadez, Deniro Farrar N/A
"HMDT!" Sky Blu, Shwayze Rebel Music
"Now That Im On" Sy Ari Da Kid, Future, K. Camp, Slim Dunkin N/A
"In Love With The Money" Peter Jackson, OJ Da Juiceman Good Company


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External links