No one really questions what he says, and as a result, countless outlets have published biographical information about him that is false. Almost nobody can agree on the most basic facts about him, starting with his real name and age.

For the record, he was born Horst Christian Simco on January 29, 1982, making him 31. He was a normal, square kid throughout his childhood, and he studied liberal arts at a community college in Hibbing, Minnesota. Upon returning to Houston ten years ago, he was painting cars and gradually beginning to build his new identity.

It's unclear why he's so cagey about his past; perhaps he believes his middle-class background disqualifies him from rap stardom.

When Riff Raff (with Bun B) "started to get into rap, he started to emulate the black culture."
Marco Torres
When Riff Raff (with Bun B) "started to get into rap, he started to emulate the black culture."
In 2011, Riff Raff arrived in L.A. to stay. He won over critics via collaborations.
Marco Torres
In 2011, Riff Raff arrived in L.A. to stay. He won over critics via collaborations.

The details in this story weren't easy to get. They're culled from public records and dozens of interviews with family members, friends, and rap peers in an attempt to understand how a white, suburban kid became rap's most beguiling figure — and to answer one big question: Is the character of Riff Raff an elaborate piece of performance art, or is it his true self?

His fabrications and deflections are redolent of those used by Vanilla Ice. Grilled in 1991 by Arsenio Hall about his past, Ice speculated that folks were gunning for him because he was on top, before concluding: "It ain't where you're from, man; it's where you're at."

Today, Riff Raff is asked why he tells reporters his name is Jody Christian rather than Horst Simco. He responds, "My name is whatever anyone wants it to be. As a matter of fact, I might change my name to Captain Funzo — then what are they going to say?"


Like many up-and-coming Houston rappers, Fat Tony — now critically acclaimed, with a national profile — spent much of his time peddling CDs at colleges and malls.

In the mid-aughts, he began encountering Riff Raff, who had already shed Horst Simco. Tony recalls him sporting denim jean shorts that nearly touched his high-tops, a do-rag, and a throwback jersey. "I thought he was corny-looking," says Tony, who has since become a fan.

But Ronald Vaughns, who raps under the name Freestyle Bully, immediately identified Riff Raff as a kindred spirit. "We both had a lot of jewelry, both had our CDs, and we stood out from regular people," Vaughns says, describing their meeting in 2007 at a mall. They later twice lived together in apartments on the city's southwest side, according to Vaughns, plying their music, seducing women, and selling drugs.

Horst had come a long way from the suburbs where he was raised.

Then majority white, Copperfield, Texas, boasted a low crime rate and a good school district. A family photo from the early '90s shows Horst's father, Ronald, with a caterpillar mustache, while mother Anita wears a floral-print dress and the four blond children smile with as much sincerity as they can muster. Horst, wearing a bowl cut and a T-shirt, looks somewhere between bored and bewildered. In his ninth-grade school picture for Langham Creek High School, his Caesar-style haircut is punctuated by a cowlick. The family considered itself solidly middle-class.

Today, the eldest Simco child, Amber, lives in the Washington, D.C., area and works for the National Institutes of Health. The next sibling after Horst, Claire, works as a nurse and is raising a family in Duluth, Minnesota. Viktor, the youngest, is a sponsored snowboarder based in St. Paul.

But Horst took a different path. He claims he was a poor student and says he didn't graduate high school.

However, his father insists that Horst did, in fact, graduate, and his former roommate Vaughns also believes he did. (Horst's photo disappears from Langham Creek High School after ninth grade; the local school district won't say whether he graduated.)

One of Riff Raff's managers told Gawker that Riff Raff dropped out, got his GED, and played basketball at Louisiana State University on a scholarship before being cut from the team. Riff Raff himself has referenced the LSU scholarship. But the Houston Chronicle reported last year that a spokesman for the school's athletic department had never heard of him.

For whatever reason, by 2000, Horst was in a rut. His parents had divorced, leaving Ronald Simco, a Vietnam veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, devastated. After being diagnosed with tonsil cancer, Ronald moved to Duluth to get out of the heat. For a time, Horst and his siblings shuttled back and forth between there and Houston, where their mother remained.

In fall 2001, Horst enrolled at the community college in Hibbing, a tiny, homogenous burg on the Minnesota iron range (motto: "We're Ore and More") best-known as Bob Dylan's hometown. He played on the basketball team and studied liberal arts.

Ultimately, though, he felt out of place in staid Hibbing and lasted only a month on the basketball team. Feeling homesick, he dropped out in 2003 and moved back to Houston.

As he frequently changed apartments, including some on Houston's grittier Northside, he failed to find gainful employment. Sometimes even the checks his dad sent weren't enough to make the rent.

Ronald Simco thought his son's new environment was too dangerous. "He had guns pointed at his head, that kind of thing," he says. "I told him I didn't want to go to my own son's funeral."


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3 comments
sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

so when he was "white" he was a good kid


when he went "non-white" 


he became trouble




if a right winger type had stated that fact the haters of truth would be going all OWS 



but its stated like it is 


no big deal


had to call you out on it

wild_og
wild_og

Looks like allot of work goes into that look. I used to date a girl like that 2 hours every morning putting her look on.

alyssa785
alyssa785

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