Walter Crunkite – Postmodern Superhero: Notes on RiFF RAFF
— RiFF RAFF writes his name, and everything, his voluminous tweets, everything like that, with a lowercase i.
— It’s not a terrible stretch to wonder if the diminution of the i has to do with RiFF’s crisis of self.
— I don’t mean crisis in a negative or pathological sense — that was just the word that came to mind. I might change it. What I mean is that RiFF RAFF is multiple, elusive, contradictory. The question, Who am i? asked by RiFF of himself would yield an uncommonly complicated answer, if he even cared to ask or answer. His i is lost in/buried under a swirling semiotic chaos in which questions of identity are refracted into an endless funhouse-mirror room, a chain of signifiers leading to no place.
— And maybe the crisis, if we’re going to call it that, is located in the viewer/listener as much as it is in RiFF RAFF. No one knows what to make of him. Or, better: We need to make something out of him and we can't.
— RiFF absorbs identities. He is expansive.
— Which seems to contradict my claim that there's a diminution of the self.
Times goes by,
It goes on,
And it don't stop.
— More astute listeners/interviewers have counted 3 different heights offered by RiFF. No one can be different heights, 6’3" and 6’4" and 6’5". He currently goes by Blueberry Jones on Twitter. (Wait, make that VAMPiRE SAPPHiRE now.) He’s known as Jody Highroller, another persona of his, a vaguely European wealthy neo-artistocrat sort of thing. He has tattooed across his rib cage another identity, Kokayne Dawkinz.
— He has called himself Jose Canseco, James Franco, Patrick Ewing, Marilyn Manson, Ted Danson, Larry Bird, the white Tyler Perry.
— His skin is a permanent NASCAR jacket on which modes of identity are inscribed: MTV, BET, SODMG, Worldstarhiphop.com, the state of Texas.
— But almost as large as the MTV logo on the other side of his neck is the intimate and quiet signifier of what some might call his real self: the foot print from his birth certificate.
I can tell stories, I got too much to tell
I done wrote this flow on the back of the Mona Lisa.
— The common response is that “RiFF RAFF is performing. He’s a performance artist, not a rapper. It’s only an act." Marina Abramavic does performance art, but she does it in discrete settings, in definite temporal or spatial confines. She's not always performing. But RiFF's always performing, always slipping from one persona to another. It’s not a performance if it’s constant and permanent.
— Or is it? Can one be constantly performing? Is all identity a performance?
— I’m unhappy with “slipping" above. RiFF builds personas (personae? whatever) on top of others. The personas accrete and agglomerate rather than supplant or substitute. Jody Highroller is an extra stratum atop RiFF RAFF. When he was with Soulja Boy’s Stacks on Deck Money Gang imprint, he affixed that identity to his name: RiFF RAFF SODMG, affixing another identity onto his name. Did the same when he was on MTV, MTV RiFF RAFF SODMG, all tacked together.
— Is RiFF just a flamboyant, wanton code-switcher? Or, not a code-switcher as much as a code-aggregator? Is that all I’m talking about?
— "Code switching" is this thing people talk about now, about how we talk differently to different people--our Moms, friends, work people, cooler friends, lovers--which we also do with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all that.
— President Obama is a hella good code switcher.
— It's not just dropping g's off your words and using slang; it's adapting to a shared system of reference points, too.
— So "code switching" is just another way of saying that you act differently around different people, that you perform. Your facebook page is a performance, obvi. But same with people at work or school, family, sexual partners, people with power, people without power; we perform for different people in different ways. In the most pronounced moments, one is becoming something different.
— Subjectivities are constructed.
— Likewise, RiFF RAFF is constantly in character, slipping from one to another. It's just that his shit is like on the fritz. Something's off.
— But not because he's constantly performing; we all do that. He's just doing it better than we are.
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