Horst Christian Simco (born January 29, 1982) better known by the stage name Riff Raff (often stylized as RiFF RAFF), is a rapper from Houston, Texas. He was originally managed by Swishahouse co-founder OG Ron C. 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. He is also known for being a member of the rap group Three Loco along with Andy Milonakis and Dirt Nasty. His major label debut studio album Neon Icon was on June 24, 2014 on Mad Decent.
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. His mother grew up in Ohio, descending from a family of German and Lithuanian Jews that includes several survivors, and victims, of the Holocaust. Riff Raff was the second of four siblings. 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. Growing up he was obsessed with basketball, playing frequently with a group kids in his neighborhood. 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. He attended Langham Creek High School, where he was shooting guard on his school's basketball team, before dropping out senior year. Shortly after he obtained his GED.
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, Minnesota. For a period of time Riff Raff and his siblings were shuttled back and forth between there and Houston, where their mother remained. In 2001, he enrolled at Hibbing Community College in Hibbing, Minnesota, where he played on the basketball team and majored in liberal arts. Ultimately, though, he felt out of place in Hibbing and lasted only a month on the basketball team. 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. He would eventually settle in L.A. as he begun to take his rapping career seriously.
Riff Raff started rapping in 2005, making homemade CDs of his 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. 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. He did this with the help of his first talent manager, DB da Boss, whose studio provided recording and video services. 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." He looked up to Northside Houston rappers from label Swishahouse, who were blowing up around that time, including Paul Wall, Chamillionaire and Slim Thug. 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. 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.
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. 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. Upon the season's debut in early 2009 appearance on the show would garner and immediate reaction to him, and catapulted his career.
The same year actor, comedian and rapper Simon Rex noticed Riff Raff after being shown to him by notable producer The Alchemist. 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. 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.
Beginning in 2011, Riff Raff begun to be managed by OG Ron C of Swishahouse fame, and moved to Los Angeles. Riff Raff then started releasing more music videos that furthered the artist's internet fame. Those include songs such as "Jose Canseco", and "Marc Jacobs". Then in mid-2011, Riff Raff signed to Soulja Boy's label S.O.D. Money Gang Inc.. 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. 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.