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Cracking the Wifigawd Code

Wifigawd isn’t just a rapper. He’s a meticulous procurer and cultivator of sound.
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

Wifigawd isn’t just a rapper. He’s a meticulous procurer and cultivator of sound. The majority of his artistic process is spent searching for the perfect beat—during long hours on streaming sites or in the studio with frequent collaborators like Tony Seltzer and Amal. He’s looking for production he can quickly transform, through his natural ear for hooks and technical flexibility with melodic verses, into distinct and recognizable songs. What makes a beat “Wifigawd type” might be impossible to articulate, but both he and his fans can spot one with instant intuition.

“It’s like a hunt,” Wifi tells Audiomack World. “Like a producer used to search for records back in the day, that’s how I’m damn near looking for beats. I’m beat-digging like crazy. I need the best shit. I need the best piece.”

Growing up in a Rasta community in uptown Washington, D.C.—with parents who exposed him in equal parts to early ‘90s hip-hop like Redman and Jamaican reggae and dub—Wifigawd’s proclivity is for tracks with big bass grooves, loud and prominent drums, and heavy, spacey effects. Although the tone varies from project to project, the through line is Wifigawd’s mesmerizing melodies layered on top of each other, rhymes melting in between the booming kicks and snares.

“Once I fuck with a beat, and I envision what’s going on with the beat, it ain’t gonna be nothing but like 20 to 30 minutes until the whole song’s done,” Wifi says. “I’ll just start snappin’ bro, once I catch a vibe.”

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Five years into his prolific career—he’s released 22 projects since 2016—Wifigawd is releasing a project for the first time in physical format. Pressed on vinyl via POW Recordings, Chain of Command’s limited run of 250 orange copies is a logical next step for an artist whose output depends on his namesake but who also gravitates toward interests like comics and fashion with collectible rarity.

Wifi may comb through thousands of beats on his computer, but only the select best are exclusive enough for him to bolster. By positioning himself as a producer-of-producers, an artist with a refined ear and natural sensibility for how his voice can improve a great beat, Wifigawd has found an endlessly repeatable, but somehow never identical, musical formula.

After all of the digital releases you’ve put out, Chain of Command is coming out on vinyl. What does it mean to release a physical album at this point in your career?

It’s pretty good for the world I’m trying to create, in terms of just always bringing something rare to the table. With the type of music I make, my fans are definitely gonna eat it up. I think it’s rare that I’m touching physical music finally. And I’ll definitely be doing a lot more. It is collectible already and will be coveted one day. People will want it down the road, and they’ll be reselling it for $300, $400.

Do you listen to music on vinyl or physical media?

Of course. Growing up, that was the number one way I was listening to music. My parents had a whole bunch of records, so that was the number one sound right there. Vinyl and CDs of course. Still to this day, I definitely spin a couple of records. Just my favorite records, though. I only spin them shits on vinyl.

Like the Redman Whut? Thee Album. That’s probably the main thing I play on vinyl. [In my parents’ collection was] just a whole bunch of hip-hop, a whole bunch of random reggae. Old dub. It’s a whole bunch of artists I would have to go through. And then a whole bunch of jazz and soul albums. Just a whole bunch of music.

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Since you put out so many projects, what is your day-to-day schedule like?

Pretty much every day, I’m thinking about making music. To go about that most days, it doesn’t go well, because I just don’t find what I need. It might be like, one day I stumble upon everything I need, and I go crazy in like one or two days. But all the other days are just me trying to find either the sound or the samples or the shit I need to make the next project. That’s pretty much what I do every day. Some days I might find one beat. I might have listened to 200 beats, but I only found one.

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How would you describe a “Wifigawd type beat”? It might be impossible to describe even though people who listen to your music will know what it means.

Yeah, it’s pretty much impossible to describe. They just be smackin’. Like, the bass be smacking with a good melody. And I’m like, I guess this is my type of beat. The melody is good, the bass is good, I feel it. That’s the best I could explain it. A Wifigawd beat is an intricate beat with a good melody, good percussion.

I’ve heard stories that you started off rapping over MF DOOM’s Special Herbs beats, and were a fan of the mixtape era. For you, it’s clear that you can form beats that you find into new songs pretty quickly. What do you think the difference is between that process of building a new song vs. just being able to show that you can rap over any beat?

There’s definitely a clear line [between] somebody who can just rap and somebody who can make a song. That was my main thing when I started making music. At first, I wanted to work on my hooks, all day every day. Some days I wouldn’t even do verses. I would just record hooks all day because I felt like that shit was essential for song-making. I wanted to be more of a real artist, not somebody who just spit. The rapping is not the hard part. It’s making a song that has good playback value and somebody wants to keep listening to it, because of the hook.

The rapping is what should leave you in awe, but the hook should carry the music. I don’t want to say anybody, but there are definitely rappers who can bar out, and they don’t really make songs like that. It’s just bars. That’s still a song to me, though. It’s all about what you’re into.

In my opinion, the hook carries the music. So I work on hooks. That’s what I think song-making is. There are no rules to this shit, but that’s my opinion.

Aside from Flying Lotus, what other dream producers would you want to work with?

Shit, okay. Pharrell, but I would have to play him “Love You Better” 100 times back to back so he could make a beat like that and not the beats that he makes today. Kanye, but I would have to play “Last Call” 100 times so he makes a beat like that instead of the beats he makes today. Timbaland, but I’d have to play “One In A Million” so he makes a beat like that. They’re all legends, but they don’t really make the type of beats [currently] I would want.

The Alchemist, I’d definitely kill an Alchemist beat. But it doesn’t really matter who you are to me. It’s all about the type of beats you make currently. Those guys I said though are like the best producers ever. So definitely them. I would make them make fire beats. No offense. I’m not saying they don’t make fire beats, but the beats they be making for artists today, I don’t be fucking with them. But the old shit, hell yeah.

What are your top three favorite mixtapes?

I can’t even do that, bro. That’s fucked up. Damn, alright. Curren$yVerde Terrace. Trademark Da Skydiver — Flamingo Barnes. SpaceGhostPurppBlackland Radio 66.6.

By Will Hagle for Audiomack

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