What the hell is up with Riff Raff’s teeth? An explainer

Man with Sharp Teeth Grill

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxOXjN2dykg

All you ever wanted to know about them shark chompers.

What is a Riff Raff?

Riff Raff, real name Horst Christian Simco, is an “Internet rap sensation” from Houston, Texas. You may remember him either as a contestant on the MTV show From G’s to Gents, or for being, looking, and sounding an awful lot like James Franco’s character in Spring Breakers. Franco has said Riff Raff was “one of a number of people we looked at” for inspiration. However, the rapper has become infamous for his strange vines and YouTube videos, and sometimes his actual rapping. He released his debut studio album, Neon Icon, last summer, on Diplo’s Mad Decent label.

Is he any good?

At this point it’s difficult to isolate his talent from the joke surrounding him, but he’s certainly entertaining. His song “Dolce & Gabbana” is a natural extension of LMFAO, and “TiP TOE WiNG iN MY JAWWDiNZ” has that kind of lazy, heavy beat that makes everyone sing along, convinced they too can rap. If you like the kind of rap you’d find at Coachella, you’d like him.

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Wait, look at his teeth.

Right.

He has a grill. He did not file his teeth into points. You should be familiar with a grill by now. If you’re not, ugh, OK, it’s like Invisalign but decorative, usually made of metal and and often embellished with jewels. Grills have been a common look for hip-hop artists since the 1990s, though became a bit more mainstream in the early 2000s. There are grills candies, so really, this is not new.

You’ll have to factor in a trip to the dentist, where you need to get a mold of your teeth made and shipped to Paul Wall.

Oh yeah, I remember those.

Good job. Yeah, they’ve been making a bit of a “comeback” recently, though mainly that means they’ve been worn by the likes of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Madonna, in the way where white people tend to take the fashions that come from black culture to look edgy or creative.

But Riff Raff’s grill is magnificent.

Yes, it is. It was designed by Paul Wall, a jeweler, fellow Houston rapper, and big name in grill design (often working with Johnny Dang). He’s made grills for everyone from Lil Jon to Ryan Lochte. Fittingly, he was featured on Nelly’s 2006 hit “Grillz.” 

Riff Raff’s grill appears to be a full set, top and bottom, of filed-down teeth that make him look like a billionaire conehead. “Nobody got this,” he told Complex. When asked why he wanted them, he said he needed “the best grill that anybody ever had.”

How much would something like that cost?

It certainly depends. Riff Raff’s grill appears to be made of yellow gold, each tooth filled with diamonds. A similar style on Paul Wall’s website goes for $7,350 for just the bottom set, and that’s if it’s 14-karat gold instead of 18k, features no diamond-quality upgrades, and none are filed down to look like fangs. However, if you’re worried about blood diamonds, Paul Wall says that he “visited Sierra Leone this past summer with a contingency from the United Nations and VH1 in an effort to learn more about the situation there” and refuses to use illegally traded diamonds. He is also “donating 100 percent of the profits from sales of all the grills that contain red stones to humanitarian efforts in Sierra Leone and other war-impoverished countries affected by the diamond trade.”

The grill is the logical conclusion of humanity’s pastime of self-adornment.

You’d also have to factor in a trip to the dentist, where you need to get a mold of your teeth made and shipped to Paul Wall, so your grills fit perfectly. You can check your insurance plan about that one.

So do you just… wear them all the time?

Certainly not. They’re not recommended for use by anyone under the age of 12, and you’re not supposed to eat, drink, or sleep in them.

But what if you did eat with them?

Please don’t.

C’mon, just for funsies.

OK, eating would be very difficult. According to shark scientist David Shiffman, sharks “don’t chew, they take big chunks and swallow whole.” Presumably these grills would leave you with functional molars, but it still sounds all too likely to end in choking.

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I still don’t get why you’d do this.

BECAUSE IT LOOKS FANTASTIC. It’s the logical conclusion of humanity’s pastime of self-adornment. Perhaps you don’t understand why someone would get tattoos or piercings or even wear jewelry, either, and I can’t help you with that, but surely if you understand why someone may want to wear a necklace, you can understand why they may want to wear a tooth necklace.

I get why you’d do this, and I want one, but I’m broke.

Well, you probably can’t get one as magnificent as Riff Raff’s for under five figures, but Johnny Dang is selling a 20-tooth Jaws grill in 10-karat gold for the low, low price of $1,500. Or you can order individual fangs for $325 each, and build up your mouth from there.

Photo via Best Vines/YouTube 

Jaya Saxena

Jaya Saxena

Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'