Wednesday 11th April 2018 marked the first date on New York born rapper Wiki’s UK tour, coinciding with his Manchester Debut. Finding success on the streets of Manhattan with his crew Ratking, Wiki has slowly built up a strong following both in America and Europe since the start of the decade. The release of his first studio album 'No Mountains in Manhattan' sees him collaborate with MCs and producers like Ghostface Killah, Earl Sweatshirt, Sporting Life, Kaytranada & DJ Earl. We got a chance to catch up with the rapper after his electrifying gig at Night & Day café for the Triple Bam crew.
You're still living with your moms, or are you smoking blunts out of your own window?
Naaaaa, I ain't lived with my moms in a minute.
Is it Ice Tea or Lemonade as your choice of drink?
Nah you can't choose, you gotta mix it.
Where'd you get that powdered Lipton Ice Tea from? You can't get that in the UK.
Oh what, in the video? Nah my Mom jus make that shit nice. She makes tea y'know, she jus makes herbal tea 'n shit. She'll throw some Lipton in it too and makes her lemonade from concentrate; that's hella sweet but the tea jus kinda levels it out.
We've noticed a progression in your live performance over the past couple years, is that something you've been trying to work on?
I think with Raking and shit, that had a whole live element to it, but still I was part of a group, so a big thing was being like...yo this is me on stage now and having to control it all. Y'know me, I’m a little bit shy and shit, so it's a lot more pressure. I was jus on a 30 day joint opening up, that's hella' different, you jus tryna win over whoever you can. So coming over here tonight, having the first one of my shows, it was niiiice. It opened me up, it made me like fuck it, i'ma go hot, I usually jus go laidback with my thing and rap, cos I know I can rap. But tonight, I was like nah, I gotta bring this shit. So, it's definitely been a progression, but it's also the vibe, it's always the energy i'm in.
What did you think of the reception tonight?
It was sick, I was hyped, I used the tracklist we had and then added some new songs in because we had a 30 minute slot, then Mack made his own off the top, y'know what I mean, not thinking about the other one. I thought the set was sick, cos at the beginning it was cool jus warmin em up and then it was like boom, I dunno it was the like the right waveyness of it, it was cool. The reception made things easier, it can be a struggle and I'd ate just before the show, so I had a full stomach; but it makes it so much easier when the crowd is there. Play the song and it's like boom, they know the shit.
Talking about food, if you're hungry out in Manhattan or elsewhere in New York, where'd you go? Where's your spot?
Wiki: I mean it really depends, I can tell you too many shits.
Mack: What time of day are we talking?
Wiki: I can tell you two things, you either go the deli, if it's a regular deli. If it's like a fancy deli don't even go there. Y'know the one that I mean with the American cheese and the shitty bacon. Also, Landmark on Grand, that's a dope breakfast spot too, that's the closest you can get to like a greasy spoon. Jus cos you go in there, they show you love. They’re old, the ladies are like 'hey sweety'. It's just real, if you go there, they know you.
Mack: Tell 'em about The Court.
Wiki: The Court is nice, so you see the Mexicans run The Court, and they do it right, they got that fluffy egg. Then in the Deli y'know it's jus that regular - sometimes it's shitty, but y'know it's pure hangover shit, y'know how it is. The egg, they jus drop the egg right on the thing y'know, let it fly, throw cheese on that bitch, simple. Back in the day, i'd ask for cheddar on my bacon egg n cheese, but now I realised the simple one, is the best one. 'baconeggncheese' and 'saltpepperketchup'; in New York that's two words.
D'you not get Brown Sauce in New York?
Wiki: Naaaaaaaaah we've not got Brown Sauce in New York.
Mack: Na Brown Sauce aint a ting there bro. See Wiki fucks with the UK breakfast though.
Wiki: I like the English Breakfast more than the American breakfast. Cos:
1. I like the fact you get sausage and bacon.
2. I don't like that American bacon, I don't like that crispy, I like that kinda' almost raw, I like that.
3. I love the baked beans, baked beans is some Boston shit, like when I went camping with my Uncle, I never had no baked beans in New York. Baked beans, no. But with breakfast, it's like come on son, I love that.
We've seen you've got a Teklife connection, namely the Dj Earl collaboration on your new album, how did that come about?
Wiki: I met Earl like 3 or 4 years ago, or some shit. He's always been a homie, Earl man he's cool, someone that's fun to hangout with, get high with, he get mad high haha. One time we did a fuckin' show in Chicago and at the Teklife after party I was jus' going for it, I didn't give a fuck, I was going like 'ah ah ah ah' (motions footwork movements). Y'know you don't get much subcultures these days, and everyone's like 'oh that was sick back then', but Footwork has the energy of the shit back then, it's raw, it's from Chicago, it's real, it's got dancers, it's people making music.
Mack: I swear Earl was living in New York at the time, so you can tell he's added that New York grit to that sound too.
Wiki: Ye for real, thats facts g. In New York there's some shit called 'Lite Feet', which is getting light, that's the dance. It's ill to see the Teklife and Footwork shit doing well, it's pristine, it's nice. But I grew up watching people dance on the train. One of the producers I work with, Tony Seltzer, he works with a lot of the Lite Feet guys that make them beats - it's simple, repetitive tunes just to get light too. I want that shit to get it's shine, like all the hip bullshit music mags to be like oh, this is the shit.
On the subject of collabs, we've seen you do tracks with likes of Skepta, Jesse James & King Krule - is there anyone else in the UK at the moment that you are fucking with?
Wiki: Well one person I've worked with before is Micachu, she sang a hook on a song on 'Lil' Me' called 'Cherry Tree', I feel like there was a lot of potential, we had a lot of chemistry and she's like an OG out here. So it would be dope to work with Micachu again (and that's just the first shit off my head). I got signed to XL, so I did a show with King Krule over here and that's how I met Mack. He's DJ'ing for me now, and i've known him for 5/6 years and through him is how I met Jesse y'know. So it was all very natural, which is how it is in New York and how I like it. So it's cool to come to London and have that natural connection.
The first time I met Skepta, he was on some no way shit, cos he jus came through and we was jus rapping together and he was like 'Oh shit, this ratking shit like some grime shit.' Y'know it's dope to have that mutual love and respect out here. London, that's like my second home, I've jus done a tour in Europe and when I got off the bus in London I felt good, it's not like my home home, but it felt nice. I like it up here, (in Manchester) it feel real British to me, y'know what I mean, everything grey as a motherfucker, I was telling people like this shit some real British shit. Brick motherfucker yeah.
Obviously we've seen all the Secret Circle shit, how did meeting Antwon and Lil Ugly Mane come about?
Wiki: Antwon, I met him, we played a show, and I was like 'yo, I fuck with you dude', and he didn't really fuck with many rappers before that, then he saw our show and he was like 'oh shit, he's going hard'. We chilled that night and ever since then we were cool. We've been working together for a minute, whereas Antwon and Lil Ugly Mane go back. They knew each other before rap shit. Antwon made the connection and put Secret Circle together. It's his idea and he's the leader of Secret Circle. We got the album coming up, it's gunna come out hopefully this year, it's pretty much done.
Is there a Nickelus F collab on there?
Wiki: Oh B, I wanted that shit bro, but I don't think we're doing any features on it just cos if we get one then we need to get everyone, y'know what I mean. So we just keeping it clean, keeping it us. That's the god though, shouts out to Nickelus F, I'm trying to work with him, I have that in my notes g.
We're going to wrap things up. but one for the old school fans, can you see another Ratking project happening again in the future?
Wiki: Yeee, I mean it's a long fucking future man. Never say never. It will happen my g, it just ain’t gunna' happen right now, nah' mean.