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The Butterscotch Boss, The Neon Icon, Jody Highroller, Iceberg Simpson, Riff Raff or just plain old Horst Christian Simco. A man of many names and of many styles, Neon Icon shows that hip-hop's most infamously recognisable face can dip in an out of genres at will. When Mos Def is making documentaries about force feeding Guantanamo inmates, you need a Riff Raff to occupy the other end of the spectrum by coming up with lines like: "Now I'm Julius Ceasar in the Versace wife beater." Riff Raff has never made it clear whether his persona is a joke and Neon Icon raises some interesting arguments for and against that hypothesis.

The album kicks off with 'Introducing the Icon' - a track which opens with dialogue between 'bros' about Jennifer and "how she doesn't even grow hair on her body, she's like this tanned beauty queen from an Eastern peninsula." Straight off the bat this dialogue cheekily hints at the idea that everything you're about to hear is not to be taken at face value. Firing off ridiculous lines at pace, Riff Raff's distinctive Southern voice cuts over the beat as he describes himself as "The white Gucci Mane with a spray tan." Riff Raff has faced accusations of minstrelry before and, to give him his credit, articulately and intelligently explained his dedication to his music and how his appearance and style is purely out of respect and not mockery. It's a difficult line to draw between homage, mockery, satire, parody and self-parody. Neon Icon falls somewhere between homage and self-parody which is, in all honesty, an incredible achievement

'KOKAYNE' produced by Diplo comes early in the album and is one of Neon Icon's many swerves in genre. A surf-rock beat rolls along as Riff Raff bounces along retelling a night on the white powder. Later in the album Riff Raff tries his hand at a country ballad with 'Time' which opens with the melody from 'Hey There Delilah'. It's absolutely atrocious musically as Riff Raff's voice and a banjo were never meant to meet. Somehow, despite being over two years old, 'Time' manages to have a valuable place on Neon Icon as it is genuinely a sad song about how Riff Raff doesn't have anyone to love. It's too sincere to be a parody and too cringeworthy to be genuine but this problem is exactly the essence of Riff Raff as an artist - with all the evidence in front of you it's still impossible to work out if he is a genius, an idiot, or both.

Plenty of the tracks on the album sound like one of the myriad of singles that Riff Raff has put out over the years: 'Wetter Than Tsunami', 'Versace Python' and 'Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz' are all Riff Raff doing what he does best - silly braggadocio rhymes over pretty simple beats. These showcase his madcap lyrics in an easily digestible manner even if he insists on singing the hooks in his downright creepy voice. 'How To Be The Man' has a typical sparse DJ Mustard beat and gives Riff Raff the space to fire out how he is the: "White Danny Glover/ Rap game Uncle Ben pulling rice out the oven." Another of the more sparse tracks is 'Aquaberry Dolphin' which features Mac Miller and is produced under his Larry Fisherman alias. Mac Miller mails in a totally forgettable verse apart from the WWE-inspired line: "Rich as Vince McMahon/ Your bitch look like Triple H." Thankfully, Riff Raff is in fine comedic form and drops gems like: "I don't like to drive, Versace jeans in a limousine/ I can freestyle to a dolphin and a tambourine."

'Lava Glaciers', featuring a great self-referential and zeitgeist-y verse from Childish Gambino, is one of the album's undisputed highlights. Top quality production comes from Harry Fraud (the man behind his incredible collaboration with Action Bronson - 'Bird On A Wire') a floating synth and gentle guitar undulate as Riff Raff delivers a solid verse. The dynamic between Riff Raff and Childish Gambino is interesting for a number of reasons. For starters Childish Gambino's verse is better than Riff Raff's - hands down. Gambino's voice is a much lower pitch and his flow is a lot more friendly on the ears than Riff Raff. This creates an interesting dynamic considering Gambino's lyrics are better as it makes you realise how powerful a Riff Raff verse can be precisely because you can't ignore his cutting vocal tone and snappy lyrics. Certain voices can wash over you, whereas Riff Raff's blasts you in the face.

'Vip Pass To My Heart' closes Neon Icon and is a cheesy, bouncy, auto-tuned, electro-pop song. To protect the image of Riff Raff as elite cultural satirist I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt by saying this track is not an atrocious attempt at a generic mainstream track, but instead, a parodic commentary on the vapid and vacuous nature of contemporary American pop music.

Much of Riff Raff's schtick is based on easily digestible chunks of culture. He initially had his 15 minutes of fame on MTV's From G's To Gents before finding fame in hip-hop. Riff Raff has a considerable following on Twitter and Vine where his bursts of humour are constrained to character limits and video lengths which suits his style considerably. Riff Raff is supposed to be consumed and then ignored as we wait for the next part. Neon Icon doesn't leave a legacy but this is Riff Raff the cultural genius at work again - these songs were not meant to be canonised or studied, they're disposable and Riff Raff himself is the cultural object we should all study. Neon Icon is either the greatest social commentary on 21st century music, a moderately funny joke or a terrible hip-hop album. It is this conundrum which makes it such an endearing listen and one of this year's must hear albums. Riff Raff has somehow become one of the most innovative artists this century and Neon Icon is his magnum opus mirror.

Rating: 0/10 or 10/10

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