Add to that the fact that Riff Raff has carefully cultivated a reputation for reckless eccentricity and unpredictability that keeps his fans on their toes. He has a number of alternate personas that he adopts in the YouTube videos he makes and during interviews, including Jody Highroller, who has a British (or more accurately "British-ish") accent. Over the weekend he released a long-awaited official mix tape, Summer of Surf, without telling anyone beforehand. He has large, conspicuously placed tattoos of the logos of rap websites and Viacom-owned media properties. And his lyrics, while vivid and projecting a sense of luxury, almost never make any literal sense. (A representative line, from his exuberant freestyle over Jay and Kanye's "Otis": "I used to turn boys to girls / Now I pull up in the bowling-bowl swirl / I'm on bowling lanes.") And by midnight Sunday he hadn't even shown up at Subterranean, much less come out onstage.
But he did make the show. For as much as Riff Raff seems intent to carve out for himself a lane called "the white Kool Keith," he doesn't seem to have inherited Keith's superhuman disregard for practical stuff like showing up for concerts he's contracted to play. It was a short set, but that's fine. Even as fascinating a person as Riff Raff has a hard time keeping rapping along to MP3s interesting for long, and even more than the music what people were there for was to witness and absorb some of his radiant, charismatic weirdness. While the goofy tattoos and fake accents are what brings eyes and ears Riff Raff's way, he's building a devoted fan base through complete, unwavering dedication to his superstar status, despite the almost complete lack of mainstream attention. (He seems to have learned a few things from the cult of Andrew W.K.)
It's like Riff Raff (whose stint on a reality show is maybe the least of the reasons why so many have a hard time taking him seriously) believes so hard that he's a famous rapper that a career as a famous rapper has materialized around him. He's even got a deal with Diplo's Mad Decent label. While some of his fans no doubt appreciate him ironically, for those of us who are serious about it, the situation feels like inhabiting someone else's feverish MTV-fueled fantasy—a world that's much more fun than the one everyone else is in.