Wiki stands on the corner where the harsh streets of hip hop meet the unforgiving pavements of punk. In fact, Wiki doesn’t so much stand on the corner as much as he grows from the cracks in the cement, with his grimy looks and grimier music a smear against the polished, upmarket “street” aesthetics of today’s big-name rappers.
By and large, the 26-year-old rapper maintains a consistently down-to-earth demeanor on the mic and generally sticks to blue-collar lyrics that rarely venture beyond his New York homeland. The concepts of home, family, struggle, and failure weigh heavily on his second full-length album as a solo artist, OOFIE, just as they did on his debut No Mountains In Manhattan.
Within this narrow scope, however, Wiki has displayed surprising versatility as an emcee, leaping over mosh pits as the frontman of alternative hip hop outfit Ratking, or revealing a sweeter, more awkward side on Junglepussy’s romantic “Ocean Floor”. On OOFIE, he once again toes the line between consistent and varied as his bread-and-butter deliveries shift ever so slightly: early highlight “Pesto” flips a vintage Busta Rhymes flow into a sneer while album closer “Freaks” scrapes sweetness out of the bitter.
If anything, OOFIE feels even grimier than Wiki’s previous releases, and the lack of highbrow concepts or elaborate arrangements indicates a shift into a back-to-basics, no-nonsense mode; even the “interludes” on the album contain straight-ahead, verbose rap verses. This isn’t a bad thing, and Wiki is a talented, sensitive writer whose pen game shines even on a restrained, moody release. As an addition to the greater hip hop canon, OOFIE is probably insignificant, but as a notch in Wiki’s still-young career, it’s an excellent showcase of his potential.