Get Familiar: Wiki

Get Familiar: Wiki

Get Familiar: Wiki

Interview by Passion Dzenga | Photography by Lula Heyers

In the intricate tapestry of the music world, certain artists emerge as vibrant threads that weave the fabric of innovation, authenticity, and raw talent. One such luminary is Wiki, an American rapper and record producer hailing from the bustling heart of New York City.  From the very streets that breathed life into hip-hop, Wiki's artistic journey has been a testament to unbridled creativity. Once a key member of the trailblazing Ratking, Wiki's collaborative prowess was evident, setting the stage for his solo voyage. His evolution since then has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Hailing from the iconic Upper West Side in Manhattan, Wiki's roots and upbringing have played an integral role in shaping his artistry. As a fusion of Puerto Rican heritage and Irish-American influence, his music resonates with a rich tapestry of cultural nuances, delivering a unique narrative that transcends boundaries. As we delve into his backstory, we explore Wiki's initiation into the music scene as a founding member of Ratking, a hip-hop collective that carved its own path through New York City's urban soundscape. With each track and performance, Wiki's trajectory was set in motion, driven by a passion that would soon capture the world's attention.

The resonance of Wiki's journey extends beyond music. A collaboration with Patta and Tommy in 2022 not only showcased his musical finesse alongside fellow artist Mike but also symbolized the raw resurgence of hip-hop culture. This same dynamic spirit is now echoed in his latest venture: a groundbreaking shoe collaboration with Warrior Shoes, coupled with an upcoming show in the heart of Amsterdam.

Your journey in the music industry has been diverse and dynamic, from being a member of Ratking to your successful solo career. Can you share some insights into how these various experiences have shaped your artistic style and approach to music?

I definitely feel lucky to have come up with Ratking. Having other members to bounce off created something special and different then what I could have done on my own. And I learned a lot, especially from Sport. He had a lot of the initial ideas and it gave us the groundwork to build off. On the other hand as a solo artist the ideas really start with me. It let me get more personal with my music. My last 3 projects and the next two coming are all with one producer, which was dope to tap back into having someone else invested to give input and take it all out of my hands. I am working on the next Solo Wiki project and I'm excited to just come at it with a fresh perspective. I want to get out of my comfort zone with this next one.

Your solo albums have been met with critical acclaim, each showcasing a unique evolution in your sound. How do you approach the creative process when working on a new album, and what influences drive your musical exploration?

I think it's important to come at every project with a beginners mindset. I always try to challenge myself and create something unique. I don't just want to do something different for the sake of being different, but it just keeps it more interesting that way. Sometimes when you get a routine down and are really comfortable with a certain approach it can get boring and formulaic. I think it's important to break those habits to get back to that pure form of creativity that we got into it for, in the first place. My influence can come from other artists as well as movies, books, history and Life. It could be very personal or it could be me looking out into the world or city with a broader perspective.

"No Mountains in Manhattan," your debut solo album, is named after a line from Martin Scorsese's film "Mean Streets." Could you delve into the connection between this cinematic reference and the themes explored in the album?

Mean streets had an influence on the album as well as me. It's about young adult friends in downtown Manhattan trying to figure out life with all the chaos of the city. But the title itself was something I took from the film and recontextualized. I just thought that phrase sounded hard, so I just ran with it and sort of flipped it to mean what you interpret it as. For me it's about getting through the obstacles in life.

Collaboration seems to be an integral part of your journey, from Ratking to your joint projects with artists like Your Old Droog and Mike. How do these collaborations contribute to your growth as an artist, and what do you value most in a collaborative musical experience?

Collaboration is so important to the process and Journey. Whether it's the producer I'm working with or another rapper or vocalist I'm working with. I try to be as open as possible when working with an artist. I put trust in whoever I'm working with to take things out of my own perspective. Also It's important to challenge yourself. I remember writing "vigilantes" with Your Old Droog and this new Mike song coming out soon and just going back and forth every time leveling it up in a competitive but productive way. It's like bouncing off each other's energy to create the perfect final product.

Your recent collaboration with Warrior Sport Shoe brings together music and fashion. How did this collaboration come about, and how did you infuse your unique artistic vision into the design of the shoe?

The collaboration with Warrior all started with them hitting me up interested in doing a shoe with me. I checked out their page and thought the shoes were fly, and I always wanted a sneaker, so we ran it. At first we did the Dime, but this time we did the Boot. The silhouette was already hard, and i didnt want to do the beef and broc thing cause everyone did that last year, so I just kept it simple with the green and black, with the gold rivets to pop off the simple color way. It looks like a sneaker but a boot at the same time. and we got the wiki handstyle stitched in Gold on the back.

The partnership with Warrior Sport Shoe also involves a live show in Amsterdam. What can your fans and attendees expect from this performance? How does performing live contribute to your connection with your audience?

I'll have Subjxct 5 with me Djing so It'll be a movie for sure. You can expect to hear some new shit old shit and everything in between. Excited to get back out to Amsterdam that was one of the best shows on our last Euro tour. Performing is such an important part of me as an artist. It really is a different type of feeling, it's when I feel most comfortable and confident in life. It can be hard, but it's worth it everytime. The love from the audience gets me through it a lot of the time. The connection we create can really be a spiritual moment.

Your involvement with the Patta and Tommy brand campaign symbolized the resurgence of hip-hop. Could you share your thoughts on the current state of hip-hop and the role you see yourself and your music playing in its ongoing evolution?

I think Hip Hop is in a good place. It will forever be evolving and part of that is revisiting and contextualizing old ideas and sounds. Things go in cycles, it goes back to the Cipher which is a part of Hip Hop. I think it's important to stay open but also have respect for the artist that laid the groundwork. It's Important to acknowledge that Artists can be influenced by two or three degrees of separation. They might not even realize the influence themselves but something that influenced them was influenced by what was before that. So I think just learn from the past and open to the future.

Your upbringing in New York City and your experiences at Brooklyn Friends School have likely had a significant impact on your artistic identity. How has your environment and background influenced the themes and narratives in your music?

The City is one of the main characters in my music, art and life. It has had a huge impact on shaping who I am and giving me the perspective I have. Just growing up being able to be surrounded by so much culture clashing but still maintaining and somehow working together to make it work, was really inspiring to me. the dysfunctional community that someone would look at with disgust but we just accept and love all the more. I think going to Brooklyn Friends was important just cause it brought me to Brooklyn from Uptown so that included everything in between. Being able to take the train to Brooklyn every day expanded my world outside of the Upper West Side.

Looking ahead, what creative projects or aspirations are you excited to pursue in the coming years? How do you see your music and your role in the industry evolving over time?

I want to work on more visual Art and writing outside of music. I want to do a poetry book at some point with illustrations. I also have always been interested in film so I would love to get involved in some capacity, but I understand and respect how tough that is so that might take some time. I also want to get back into producing more. As far as the industry goes I don't focus on it too much, maybe to a fault, but my goal is to get to a place where I can sustain myself comfortably enough and be able to create and have the time and resources to help out the community as well.

The Warrior Sports Shoes x Wiki Matterhorn is available now.