The Annotated RiFF RAFF Freestyle Series: 101 Barz
Welcome to the Annotated RiFF RAFF Freestyle Series, where we periodically transcribe Riff Raff freestyles and add our interpretation of their meaning.
For the uninitiated, Riff Raff is a rapper, fashion icon, and a bunch of other stuff but those are the main two things. It usually takes hours to explain to someone who/what he is, so if you're still confused you'll have to wait for my yet-to-be-published book, RAP GAME STROMiLE SWiFT: An Unauthorized Biography of Jody Highroller.
Today we'll be discussing what is widely regarded as not only Riff's best freestyle to date, but the number one freestyle of all time — rap, swimming, parkour or otherwise. It took place about a year and a half ago, when Riff was in Amsterdam appearing on the radio station 101 Barz. What follows is an "off-the-dome" work of art that checks in at just under nine minutes. Let's get into it.
I jump out the Phantom
With a cannon
Jody starts off by mentioning his Rolls Royce Phantom (a car which he does not own) and the impressive weaponry he presumably stores in the trunk. Some rappers brag about their Glock 9's, Techs, or Uzis; Riff Raff prefers antique cannons.
I leave ya stranded at the Grand Canyon
Pretty self-explanatory. This line really speaks to how little Riff cares about you in this situation.
Eight screens on
And I’m watchin’ Ed O’Bannon
If we're still talking about his Phantom, it's pretty easy to imagine that Riff's car has a television screen in nearly every available location. If we're in his home now, it sounds like Jody has a great March Madness setup.
You'll notice references to 90's-era basketball players throughout Riff Raff's lyrics.
Ain’t no tryna tell 'em
Ain’t no tryna get a felon
I’m more throwed than your parents
You may think your parents are throwed, but compared to Riff Raff they barely register on the throwedness meter.
I come through with diamonds and carats
It’s hard to see through ‘em
Beautiful. Riff flips the definition of "transparent" on its head. A lesser rapper would say something about being "icy" and we would all fall asleep.
I coulda played for UCLA Bruins
Important context is needed here. Throughout his "career," if you want to call it that, Riff has adamantly claimed that he was a star high school basketball player with major college offers. The only reason he never made it in the NCAA and then the NBA is because of his poor performance in school. These are things that he says in interviews.
Of course, it's mostly untrue (this will become a pattern), but that doesn't stop Jody from saying he could have played for (INSERT ANY COLLEGE OR PRO TEAM FROM ANY SPORT).
But I was truant
I was school too late
This is the moment I knew Riff Raff was a smart guy. I know pretty much all the words, but I had to look up "truant" — "a student who stays away from school without leave or explanation." Riff Raff rhymed "UCLA Bruins" with "truant."
Diamonds, uh, man cause earthquakes
The way I demonstrate
Ice on my chest ice on my face
There is no ice on Riff Raff's face. Stop taking him so literally.
My teeth and grill shine clean
I’m Mr. Clean
I—I step up inside the club like Mr. T
Another reference to a bygone era. Riff Raff's age is a mystery, but there is speculation that he is actually in his mid-30's. If this is the case, he would certainly be familiar with The A-Team and Mr. T's jewelry. Regardless, Jody wears a lot of it when he goes out.
So many ice up on my chest I look like rainwater
I pull up in the river they’ll do a rain dance
When Riff "pulls up," he's generally referring to parking a car somewhere and showing off to all the people nearby. I think he's still talking about that here, but in this case it's happening in a river. Because he's talking about water and rain and stuff.
I’m brain stance
I sit up like a tricep
I work out on my biceps
My tricycle made from Versace
Riff's first Versace reference usually precedes about twelve more.
But I ain’t got no kids
I forgot what I did
Five minutes ago
Pretty randomly, Riff will address speculation about his personal life, whether or not you were wondering. Here we discover Riff is not a father. And if he was, he most certainly wouldn't remember it.
I shop at Texaco
I done ball like Plexico
Texaco is a national chain of gas stations, and is probably the dominant gas station in Houston, where Jody spent most of his life.
"Plexico," of course, is a reference to Plaxico Burress. But it didn't rhyme so he made it Plexico. Can't really fault him for that.
So much money on my plate
It’s hard to eat it
Riff can barely keep up with how much money he's making. Despite all the jewelry, the cars, the designer clothes, he's still struggling to spend all of this cash.
I come through
In a Gucci wife beater
Despite my limited knowledge of the Gucci brand, my guess is they don't make "wife beaters." Riff Raff has one though.
With the sleeves off
Cause you know I gotta keep it cool
How do you expect Riff Raff to keep the sleeves on his wife beater when it's this hot out?
I act a fool
I pack a mule
I pack a tool
Quick recap: Riff Raff likes to have fun, he enlists drug mules to transport his cocaine across national borders, and he carries a firearm.
They figured I done work at Home Depot
Few can dream of transitioning so seamlessly from one definition of a word to the next. Without even saying "tool" again, Riff has moved from talking about guns to conjuring images of hammers, clamps and table saws.
You shootin’ shots
Bitch I’m shootin’ free throws
This could go either way. Maybe you're shooting gunshots (which Riff doesn't do unless it's with a cannon or with one of the guns he carries with him at all times), or maybe you're just shooting regular field goals with defenders and stuff. Regardless, Riff is shooting the easiest shot in basketball.
I’m grand slam
I’m in the Trans Am
I’m flippin’ candy yams
These bitches look like uhh...
Uhh Toucan Sam
Riff peters off a bit here, but not before making sure everyone knows how ugly these girls are.
[Talking: I switch the whole beat on bitches. What? What they want? They want a freestyle off the dome? Freestyle off the head?]
I po’ a fo’ in my Fanta
I came through
I bought me a panda
It’s a hologram
Within days of this freestyle, Riff released a song called "Hologram Panda."
I come through in Afghanistan
What an interesting place to come through!
I stand still
And I raise my left hand
I tell a couple lies
But they just white lies
Jody Highroller is not an idiot. He knows that you know he's making up most of these claims as he goes along. So he's pretty much not even a liar.
You know I ain’t gotta try
I freestyle drive-by
I do a freestyle
Don’t even give you a chance to come back
Wow. I mean this is NOT standard freestyle etiquette. In a traditional battle, both parties have the opportunity to respond to the other's most recent bars. But not when Riff Raff is involved. He freestyles so well, and the crowd reacts with such enthusiasm, you're not better off not responding.
I drop the track
In about a minute flat
Riff Raff has released literally hundreds of songs over the last few years. In 2013 alone, he came out with something in the neighborhood of 93 music videos. That kind of prolific production doesn't come from a major time investment in each song.
It’s nothin’ to me
Music ain’t shit
Here we get a glimpse of what Riff really wants out of all this. Sure, he's a rapper. But he's been doing the same thing for about ten years, now there are just more people paying attention. Does he really care about his craft? Or is he more concerned with the fame and money that come along with it?
I do this shit so quick
They figured I work for Bisquick
They figured I work for Nestle’s quick
So may I mix it up
Eight screens on
Watchin’ Daffy Duck
Here we are with the screens again. I think it's safe to say Riff enjoys being entertained, whether by sports or children's cartoons.
I play in public
I play with my budget
Man I can’t fuck witchu
You ain’t got a good enough deductible
You ain’t got enough bank deposit
Above are words that have to do with money. No matter how you slice it, you don't have enough in comparison to Riff Raff.
Motha fuckas tryin’ to negotiate my freestyle skills
Riff's freestyle skills are non-negotiable. He is the best at freestyling.
I come through
Workin’ all kinds of wood and wheels
Ah yes, wood wheels. In the South, and especially in Texas, having wood grain wheels is a popular trend among the youths.
I pop a pill
I make a drug deal
I’m in Nashville
Yeah bitch I’m in Tennessee
Them hos can’t see me
But clear—for clarity
Really enjoy this line because there is nothing clear about it.
Just to see me
On the Cazal's
Riff Raff is wearing Cazal sunglasses. They retail for $599.
I come through
In Easter time I’m candy pastel
Really, we could all say this. Who doesn't make an effort to bring out the pastel Polo's around Easter time? It's just the right thing to do.
I pass well
Like Tony Delk
Incredible. Tony Delk, probably best known for being the worst NBA player to score 50 points in a game, was not an exceptional passer. He is not Magic Johnson. He is simply a random basketball player from the 90's that kind of rhymed with the previous line. Anyone who doesn't appreciate this is not my friend.
My chest passes is
Continuing with the passing/basketball theme.
Shakespeare made up words, too.
You can’t even add it up with mathematics
As a society, we have yet to develop a form of mathematics that can fully explain just how unsubtractable Riff Raff's chest passes really are.
I pull up doin’ symmetry
Lol you thought symmetry was a concept and not a type of mathematics. Well while you're all confused about this waiting in line at the club, Riff is pulling up doing symmetry while the bouncers let him right past the ropes.
I cut you in half
Turn you to a centerpiece
After mentioning symmetry, one can assume Riff will be cutting you in half down the middle and not at the torso. Still, there's some debate here as to whether he says "centerpiece" or "centipede" here. My preference is centerpiece, because I like to think Riff wants one side of your lifeless body in the middle of his table while he's eating a lobster and shrimp dinner.
That’s how I do it
The whole game get ruined
I come through sip codeine fluid
But I—shawn derry awn
Uh sh-sherry awn
I carry on
Truly awe-inspiring. Within seconds, Riff not only ruins the rap game for everyone involved, he also manages to rhyme the name of his champagne with itself. Don't worry about the pronunciation, it works.
I carry well
Carry bumper veil (?)
Leave your kid in a well
Listen, this is getting out of hand. Jody is popping his trunk and using the hydraulics on his classic car to lift one wheel off the ground so hard that your child is in danger. The man can't be stopped.
He down there tryna ask for
For pot roast
Think about this for a second. Riff Raff has left your child in a well. Instead of showing remorse for the terrible situation he's created, Riff's chief concern is mocking your son for being more worried about eating pot roast than he is about getting out of the well. Ruthless.
I ball the most
I eat French toast
Who gon’ cope with me?
Who gon’ go ahead be in the gym?
You wasn’t in the gym shootin’
Here we see Riff Raff does not, in fact, live in his own universe. He's fully aware of Drake's feature on Rick Ross' "Stay Schemin'." While it's somewhat of an homage to Drizzy's line about Kobe divorce, Riff's main goal is to remind you that he has a wet jumper.
You can’t do it like this
The way I wood wheel twiss
I got at least 40 grand on my wrist
What type of jewelry is on your wrist? How much did it cost and who is the designer? Lol that's what I thought.
On my shoes
And I rock Huarache
I just got the damn
I finally got the Bordeaux sevens
At this point Riff Raff takes one of his shoes off as he's referencing it. Another music first.
I came through
I might shop at 7-Eleven
I might shop at
Despite the fast money and rising fame, Riff isn't above shopping at discount retailers. Really just a down-to-earth guy.
Apparently he's open to shopping anywhere in the country of Mexico as well.
Ya’ll already know how I stop
I don’t stop
I ride non-stop
Just so we're clear, Riff does not stop. But you knew that already.
I’m still ridin’ spinners like it’s '05
That’s how I do it
Hey, if Riff thinks something is cool, he's going to keep doing it. He has no time for your opinions or social norms.
I don’t even
I don’t even gotta make a whole fluid sentence
I speak a half sentence
Into a tran-transition
That you never heard before
This is where Riff starts to realize that this isn't the smoothest freestyle ever, but he still manages to do things unorthodoxically and unsubtractable.
I sip my syrup slow
You already know that I go toe to toe
With the best of ‘em
I got the best lungs
I’m all the way in East Oakland
I ain’t chokin’
I drink so much
Figured I was from Alaska
Woah, Riff Raff, really? Why don't you take it easy, pal. That's kind of a legitimate problem up there, Seth.
I ball on you bastards
Versace on the casket
Leave it closed
I put a nail in the coffin
What an amazing sight it will be when the world mourns the death of Jody Highroller.
I pop trunk often
I don’t gotta go to the doctor’s office
To even get my prescription
He's talking about codeine, you guys.
Wood wheel twissin'
I’m in a red light district
You know what I’m sayin’?
I don't think you understand the importance of wood grain wheels to Riff Raff. He's not out here twissin' leather or twissin' plastic. Wood grain ONLY.
We givin' high-fives, handshakes, hugs
I come through
Still pancakes and drugs
This line is in reference to another classic freestyle Riff did on Sway in the Morning.
They askin’ “what’s your subliminal?”
“Why you speak so much?”
“Is you typical?”
Again, Riff is speaking about the types of questions he gets from people who don't understand him. Since he's been in the public eye, there have been questions about Riff's authenticity — many have wondered if his "character" is some kind of elaborate ruse. Here he confirms that what you see is, in fact, genuine.
I’m faster than Quick Draw McGraw
Rap Game Tim McGraw
Rap game Garth Brooks
I sing a hook
Like I’m Garth Brooks
Probably the most shocking thing about this freestyle is how long it took Riff to proclaim himself the "rap game (INSERT ANY HUMAN BEING, LIVING OR DEAD)." You will find that this is a common — and hilarious— practice throughout Riff's artistry.
Side note: I would pay ten dollars for a YouTube link to just the instrumental of this beat. My favorite song is "the third beat in Riff Raff's 101 Barz freestyle from March 2013."
I’m in Pakistan
I’m in Thailand
Riff stays in very exotic locations, whether or not they're desirable.
Eight screens on 50 on my neck and hand
Amazing line here. Riff has so many screens that he has to wear them on his body. Screens. On his neck. And his hand.
I’m with the Taliban
Nah that’s just just I’m sayin’
Really underrated moment here as well. Riff freestyles so well and so creatively that sometimes he can't help what pops into his head. In the litany of places he comes through and groups he's with, Riff just happened to mention the Taliban, America's number one enemy. No big deal, it just slipped out.
I come through I flip
flippin’ on that candy sand
Only Riff Raff can shift from kind of apologizing for saying he was a part of a major terrorist group to some nonsense about "candy sand." He wasn't about to break that rhyme for any reason.
I came through
I leave the mic computer
Zero clue what this means, but you can be sure Riff left that mic SO computer.
The way I clutch a Glock
I clutch a Ruger
Two types of guns Riff apparently keeps on him when a cannon just isn't practical.
I did that
Sapphires on my tires
And them wheels peel back
Similar to how Latrell Spreewell reinvented the wheel game with his "spinners," Riff has once again turned driving rubber on its head by encrusting his wheels in precious gemstones.
But it’s still rewindin’
You already know
I gotta get my shine in
Seriously if you didn't know this by now then leave. Just leave.
But my Breitling is timeless
Oh you see what he did here? His watch, the face of which is buried beneath diamonds of all colors, is actually of timeless style...even though the its very purpose is to keep time.
I leave my pants with a crease
Leave your whole block deceased
I found this line odd considering Riff rarely wears pants that need to be ironed. But that won't matter much when everyone in your neighborhood is dead.
But this ain’t no bleedin’ season
I floss for no reason
Most people "floss" or "stunt" to impress others. Riff flosses for literally no reason, other than that he can.
I eat, leave eight screens breathin’
Back to the screens. I think Jody is implying that he's severely injured them, but has just enough mercy in his heart to let them live. Either that or he's confused even himself at this point.
Uh, your screens got a humanity to ‘em?
They got a pulse?
My screens even
Got a divorce
From each other?
So they had uh
This is probably my favorite part of the entire freestyle. It begins when Riff realizes the previous line made absolutely no sense — screens aren't living things, and everyone knows that. So Riff, taking on the role of a third-party listener, decides to investigate the idea of a living, breathing screen.
From there, he goes on to ponder (in the voice of this third party) the heartbeats of the screens in question, whether or not any of them got a divorce, and their romantic lives. None of these are typical freestyle topics.
The way they hatin’
They figured I was never fraudulently skatin’
Again referencing the people who question his authenticity, except he throws "never" in there, which kind of makes it the opposite.
I skate down your street
With Jays on my feet
I eat a pepperoni piz-za
Rap game Mona Li-sa
Actually this is my favorite part. I challenge you to find a pair of rhyming words further apart on the spectrum of the English language than "pepperoni pizza" and "Mona Lisa," humanity's most beautiful painting.
I done switched my flow up
Eight screens on and your boy
Never been stuck
I got a big Glock tucked
Underneath my shirt
I know it hurt
I come through
More fresher than Certs
Like a baseball player who reacts to a change in pitch direction by adjusting his swing, Riff has successfully and drastically changed his flow at this point, and the result is a home run.
I leave the microphone alert
Even the sound equipment needs to be on its toes when Riff is flowing so ferociously.
It’s a freestyle
“He’s so absurd. He’s absurd.
He’s absurd. I give him my word.
I give him my word.
That boy got throws hos abverbs and words.
Here, Riff is playing the role of someone who can't help but admit that Riff is indeed a genius when it comes to women and wordplay.
That boy came through in the mall
He straight splurged.
He bought the whole mall.”
The passion with which Riff talks about purchasing every item in the mall is infectious. You can tell he really enjoys setting new standards for balling.
I came through
I’m six-two tall
Man I don’t want your gal
That bitch look like RuPaul
"Does he want my gal or not?" I often find myself asking this question when absorbing a Riff Raff offering.
I come through with dope in my drawers
And I swallow my rocks
When the task force jump out
Forgive him for not flowing perfectly in this moment. He's been rhyming for about seven minutes now.
What the fuck they talkin’ bout
I’m on the pitcher’s mound
I serve 8-balls
Like I’m in the pool hall
Classic rap double entendre. Bravo.
Riff Raff came through
I balled on all ya’ll
Simply stated. When Riff comes through, he outshines everyone in the area.
They figured I ball for the Olympics
Riff balls at such a world-class level, people forget for a moment that an Olympic Balling team does not exist and quickly assume he is the captain of said team.
I’m in a whole 'nother
I feel like Riff probably meant to say "district" here, but forgot what word he was going for. So, off we go on another tangent.
Your game is extinct
It's embarrassing how tired your game is, really.
I’m a dinosaur
Just some nice word association here.
Uh-pass the thesaurus
I bet I done said every word in that bitch
Did Riff just say "thesaurus" because he's thinking of dinosaurs? we'll never know for sure. What's more impressive is that Riff is willing to bet he's said every word in the thesaurus — a book he's never read.
Diamonds on my neck and wrist
When I wood wheel twiss
The old fallback lines. Riff relies on these topics the same way you rely on "um" or "uh" when speaking publicly.
I could take twenty grand off my wrist
But I’m still worth around eighty
That’s just on the Mercedes
Here Riff quickly realizes that being worth $80,000 is really not that much in the grand scheme of rap. So before you know it he's putting $2,000,000 down on a Mercedes Benz.
This a McLaren
I pull up in the candy pear McLaren
Is it from Katy Perry?
Is it from
Ric Flair and them?
Is it from WWF
I do it by myself
Though he never answers the question of just who gifted him the candy pear McLaren, the fact that both Katy Perry and Ric Flair are possibilities speaks to Riff's popularity in celebrity circles.
Interestingly, a year and a half after this video was recorded, Riff Raff was Katy Perry's date for the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. They arrived in a peach Lamborghini dressed like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears at the 2001 VMA's.
“Man who you sign with?”
Muh fucka I got plaques on my shelf
I ain’t gotta sign with nobody
Riff has since signed with Diplo, but at this point you can tell that, deep down, he's a little sensitive about not having achieved that level of success yet. Rare overcompensation from Riff Raff here.
Rap game John Gotti
I drive a big body
Rap game Brad Daugherty
John Gotti was a crime boss. Brad Daugherty was a pretty good NBA player in the 90's, and is now a NASCAR analyst. Riff is the rap version of both of these people.
For the Cleveland
I shoulda been sleeveless
It’s hot in here
I need a A/C system
I encourage you to Google image search "Riff Raff" and count how many photos show him wearing sleeves. There won't be many.
I don’t need your sister
Last thing you wanna hear is Riff Raff up in her ear
That is literally the last thing I would ever want to hear.
Ya’ll boys feminine
You need a pap smear
I hate to ball again
I leave you on the sidewalk at Bennigian’s
After purchasing every item in the mall, it only makes sense that Riff would make a stop at Bennigian's. This marks the fourth time Riff has left us for dead.
They went to Denny’s again
They eatin’ a three piece
With some extra noodles
I just bought a Versace poodle
Before you even realized Versace poodles existed, Riff was able to buy one. I doubt it was cheap.
* * *
There you have it. The mind of a genius, carefully explained but barely understood. Pat yourself on the back for making it through our maiden voyage, and remember this moment forever, as your grandchildren will undoubtedly wonder how Jody Highroller came to be a face on our nation's currency.
Header image: Fader