New York rapper Wiki has a snarl and a way with words that betray his world-weary perspective. But as the 26-year-old has come to realize, nobody stays young forever. If his 2017 studio debut, No Mountains In Manhattan, was a vast proclamation made through the spirit of New York itself, then OOFIE—his sophomore album and first under his own label, Wikset Enterprises—is more insular by design. Wiki grants us a mid-life crisis put to wax.
As the album opens, the rapper born Patrick Morales is already preparing to face down doubters and critics coming for what he’s built. “Even when I’m down, got a crown on my head,” he raps with his chest on “Downfall.” Wiki’s vigor has always given his raps raw energy. On OOFIE, though, the walls appear to be closing in on him for the first time.
For one, gentrification colors Wiki’s nostalgia of New York in a sepia tone (“Back Then”). At the same time, he’s worried about his place in the rap game (“Downfall”) and whether or not his drinking is getting the best of him (“Promises”). On “Way That I Am,” he’s even puffing spare cigarettes from sheer stress.
OOFIE contains the direst stakes of Wiki’s career, but they don’t create a dour atmosphere devoid of light. Standout track “4 Clove Club” lists small wins and provides the motivation necessary to move forward. “Been sonned too many times to not shine,” Wik spits, tired of the self-doubt.
Considering Wiki’s guests on OOFIE are often playing catchup, doubts about his place in the rap game feel misplaced. The blustery “Way That I Am” attempts to work in interplay with Your Old Droog, which is fun, but distracts from the song’s singular perspective. Verses from Denzel Curry (“Grim”) and Princess Nokia (“Dame Aqui”) feel phoned in, adding little to their respective records. Only former Secret Circle collaborator Lil Ugly Mane (“Grim”) and Duendita (“Promises”) aid the atmosphere the author creates on OOFIE. We needed more time with Wiki’s troubled thoughts, fewer guests.
Still, Wiki manages to fill the album with the energy and humor that has been his trademark since 2015’s Lil Me, just with cloudier eyes. Wiki’s run from “The Routine” to “Dame Aqui” is particularly punchy. It scores stories of being kicked out of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and being jailed in Sweden after punching through a night club window with jaunty beats giving Wik’s reflection a good bounce. His rhyme schemes are dense, but his vocabulary is relatable, like Cam’ron if he were off the leppy coqui instead of the purple haze.
Whether fun or weary, OOFIE is proof that Wiki is a rapper’s rapper with an aggressive ear for adventure.
Standout track: “4 Clove Club”
Best Bar: “I’d rather drop some dough / And know my homies ate some shit than have some glaze up on my wrist”
Favorite moment: Wiki calling himself the “Dewey Cox” of this shit.