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February 9, 2018Feature

The last time Wiki was in Ireland he played alongside Sporting Life and the other Ratking crew at Life Festival a few years ago, it's now confirmed he will return for a headline show. Eoghan Barra caught up with him in Issue 003.

“My bad, I’m at the beach right now. It’s like the last day of summer out here, so I’m at Rockaway right now. But it’s alright, I got you!”

 

I’m speaking to Patrick Morales, better known as Ratking alumni and one of New York’s finest rising hip hop talents, Wiki.

This phone line is dull but he’s beaming, fresh off the back of his debut solo album ‘No Mountains in Manhattan’.

Ah, Rockaway… There’s no place I love in the world more than New York — and almost immediately an uncountable list of catalysts trigger memories of my time spent there: a bacon egg and cheese in the morning, watching Seinfeld, movies like ‘Mean Streets’ (a quote from which the album title comes), and, of course, the distinctive sound of the city’s hip hop scene. It’s a melting pot of ideas, people and magic.

It’s Wiki to the bone, and all of these themes are sewn into the material of his latest work.

Wiki teases the idea of his own origins, “My mom’s Irish-American. I’ma say that to the Irish magazine ‘cause Irish people get hot when I say I’m Irish. They’re like, ‘Your mom ain’t from Ireland!’”

We laugh, but I’m honoured he takes such pride in his roots.

“In America, and in New York especially, everyone comes from an immigrant background that you can trace back. You hear ‘I’m Italian’, but they’re not from Italy. So I’m Irish and Puerto Rican. My dad’s from Puerto Rico.”

Through his choice of album cover (featuring a personalised flag), and his distinct Irishness throughout the video for ‘Mayor’, Wiki has managed to stamp a very clear emphasis on his heritage.

“So basically the flag is that combination. It’s like the Puerto Rican flag with the Irish Colours. You know what I mean?”

The imperial theme of NYC is signature for Wiki, but now that he’s gone solo, his words are more succinct, and much more personal.

“I think for me the Ratking stuff was looking from above, looking down on the city. I had to show everything that was going on. It was more like… Alright this is me telling every side of the city, as another source. I’m not necessarily telling you my full story. I might tell you about it a bit. Whereas with my solo shit, I can be like ‘this is me!’, you know what I mean? It’s everything I’m going through and everything in my life.”

Vigour and intensity define his style and lyrics, but it’s passion and love that rise to the surface the more I listen to ‘Mountains’.

“Passion, love, that’s the whole album,” Wiki agrees. “You go through a time when you fall in love, like ‘we’re in love, love’, and then you gotta get over that at a certain point and move past it and be a man… And you might find love again. You gotta learn that it might have been the craziest shit ever, but you gotta get past that.”

“You go through a time when you fall in love, like ‘we’re in love, love’, and then you gotta get over that at a certain point and move past it and be a man... And you might find love again. You gotta learn that it might have been the craziest shit ever, but you gotta get past that.”

He’s making reference to a tumultuous relationship he shared with another Puerto Rican New Yorker, who’s been simultaneously making waves with her own brand of rap: Princess Nokia. ‘Pandora’s Box’ is one particular track that addresses what went down between the pair.

“That’s definitely about Destiny, Nokia,” he tells me. “With me and her, that shit was very real, you know what I mean? I know it’s real, she knows it’s real. It still is, you know? So it’s just going through that, but then the most important thing about ‘Pandora’s Box’ is the idea that you gotta let that go, even though it’s such a real thing. You can’t just dwell on it…”

While the track laments times past, Wiki shines through with a huge sense of optimism.

“Exactly!” He exclaims. “That’s the most important part! It’s like… This shit, even though it’s ended, that don’t mean that it wasn’t worth it. ‘Cause you can go through it and be like ‘oh, what’s the point in being with someone and then it ends?’ You know when you get with someone, and you’re like ‘wait, we’re not going to be together forever so what’s the point?’ But you go through it because, like in that case, I learned a lot from her. She learned a lot from me. We both gave each other a lot and it set us up. We both would never regret that. So that shit’s important. You know what I mean?”

There’s another song on the album that addresses failed romance, à la Seinfeld.

“‘Elaine’ is the other side of that,” Wiki explains. “It’s about Destiny too. You know, we’re not together, but we kinda see each other sometimes. So it’s like, that’s me in limbo and I’m putting it into ‘Elaine’, like that’s my best friend or something. It’s like, should I be with Elaine? But it’s really like, ‘Should I? I don’t know!’

“So, you know, the song, it’s really that, when you have that guilt and you’re like ‘fuck you, fuck this’. But really, at the end of the day, I was the one hiding my phone, I was the one being sheisty.”

Is there any parallel between romantic love and that which is shared between collaborators and group members? I ask because there’s a sense of love lost where the separation of Ratking is concerned. Wiki thinks about the question.

“It can be, in a sense, now that you’re saying it… I had a lot of love for Sport and Hak and Ratking and all that, and that’s hella important, but at a certain point, just ‘cause of where we were all at, we had to move on and do our own thing.

“So in that sense yeah, but I mean it’s less romantic, it’s a sort of passion playing it, but it’s a little different. But there’s definitely a certain parallel because it’s a similar thing. I needed that, definitely, but now I don’t feel like I need that right now, maybe in the future, I dunno…”

Wiki moves on from thinking beyond Ratking to the more than impressive.

“The people I work with now, I’ve a lot of love for you. For me, everything I do, there’s some type of connection. I don’t like to do shit just purely for the business shit. I’ll do that, but I like to fuck with you and have some type of realness.”

When I think about that roster, it makes me wonder how some of my own favourite artists from across a range of genres came to know each other and work together.

“It’s definitely a lot of New York and London,” Wiki tells me. “But Ghostface, Ghostface is definitely the most out of my reach artist, and I know someone that worked with him and then we linked up and we did it. Every artist I work with it’s very one on one, most of the time, whether it’s the producers or the features.”

Wiki moves the conversation across the pond to the connections he’s made in the UK.

“There’s Micachu, and I’m still working with her now, we’re working on new shit for the next one. That’s the homie! I don’t know exactly how we met, but I think we had mutual interests or something and we met in London, and from the jump, she was one of the homies.

“And it was lit, because all of my London homies, they were like ‘we grew up on Micachu!’ Then we all linked up, and they’re all on some real London shit, so they were getting along hella well. It was just dope to make that connection, and then we just worked very naturally and smoked and fuckin’ chilled with her friends, she chilled with our friends, and just regular shit. So that’s always kinda how it’s been, whether it’s with Jesse James (Solomon) or fuckin’ King Krule or, Antwon, anyone!”

I point out to Wiki that both he and Mount Kimbie have both collaborated with Micachu and King Krule.

“We gotta do the Mount Kimbie shit, that’s what we gotta do!” Wiki muses. “But I see what you’re saying, and there’s Archie (Marshall), and he’s down with Earl (Sweatshirt) and so Earl’s down with me for working on shit. I feel like at this point, ‘cause of the internet and shit it kinda sucks, but at the same time, even past this UK shit, it can be this international shit, where we’re on the same wavelength, we can fuck with each other, even from city to city.”

Alas, the last evening of summer beckons and it’s time for Wiki to return to the beach with his new romance.

“I used to go to out to Coney usually,” he says, reminding me of Ratking’s video for ‘Snow Beach’. “But now my girl loves Rockaway. So these days I go to Rockaway.”

Wiki plays The Workman’s Club on Friday April 20.

Photography: Eric Chakeen

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