In the summer of 2016, your girl was going all the way through it. I was unemployed and on the brink of having my first manic episode, which was prefaced by countless, unpredictable anxiety attacks. As a mental diversion, I found myself plunging into the depths of SoundCloud rap on a daily, often hourly, basis. It wasn’t long before I stumbled onto the “punk rap” scene that exploded in 2017; the eye of that musical storm hovering directly over South Florida.
The most recent iteration of the subgenre was led by the late XXXTentacion, but all of the tangentially connected Floridian artists, like Robb Banks and Wifisfuneral, and some others, like Craig Xen of Houston, brought me out of the haze of anxiousness that I frequently found myself buried in. Their direct and authentic aggression matched the roiling nerves that existed just beneath my skin, invisible to the rest of the world, while simultaneously being the most real thing I had ever felt in my life.
To both distract and entertain myself, I studiously tracked the artists that dominated this fast-developing movement. While X was the extreme, Robb and Wifi offered varying levels of intensity that I could access on a sliding scale. I had listened to them both before, but that summer, I became a diehard fan of them both.
That’s why I almost had a heart attack last April, when Wifi and Robb released their collaborative singles “EA” and “Movin Slow.” In the weeks and months that followed, they dropped loosies, before finally releasing their 11-track joint project, Conn3ct3d, this month. As a longtime listener, this tape legit made me feel more giddy than I did this past Christmas Day. With production largely handled by Cris Dinero, Momo, Jimmy Duval, Oogie Mane, Nuri, and IndigoChildRick, the project ranges from flirtatious and warm (“Anything”) to hardened and cold as fuck (“Can’t Feel My Face”). Altogether, it sounds like two of rap’s most promising talents exploring a wealth of potential, while having a great fucking time.
Even though this tape is only two weeks old, Wifi is already working on his official debut, Life as a Skeleton. Meanwhile, Robb is continually tinkering with his highly anticipated urban legend of an album, the 43-track Falconia, which he says is “dropping real soon.” In the meantime, Conn3ct3d, in both tour and album form, is more than enough to keep their fans entertained.
Just hours before show time at their second tour stop in Denver last Friday, Robb and Wifi hopped on the phone to talk with Complex about why they finally decided to join forces, what it was like touring with XXXTentacion, and why the Conn3ct3d tour will be a special experience for their day one fans.
Because they were in a spotty region nestled in the Colorado mountains, our call was interrupted by a series of lost connections and distorted voices on either end. The following conversation is nearly exactly how the call went. The accompanying photos, which illustrate the synergetic relationship Wifi and Robb have built with their fans, were shot by Miguel Padilla at the Portland tour stop.
You just had your first show last night on this tour. How'd it go?
Robb Banks: It went good. It was good, it was good. Colorado Springs, they turned up. It was cool. Had a good time.
Wifisfuneral: Colorado is an amazing experience, so far.
Dope. You have another show in Colorado tonight, right?
Wifi: Yep, in Denver.
Got you. So, y'all have collaborated before. Robb, I know you've produced for Wifi. But I feel like the first time I thought, “They should do something together,” was when Wifi rapped over the “Sensational” beat. Both of y’all sounded perfect on that shit. What made you decide to do a tape together?
Robb: We was just in the studio. I went to the studio one day with Cris Dinero, and Cris produces for me and he produces for Wifi, as well. He told me to come to the studio. I pulled up. Me and Wifi been knowing each other. We was always cool, so he just told me to jump on some songs. We did, what, like three songs?
Wifi: We did “Save a Hoe” and “EA” in that same session.
Robb: And we did “Can’t Feel My Face.”
Wifi: And we did “Can’t Feel My Face” that same session. Then after that session, we were listening to those three songs. And I just came up with the idea with them: I was like, “Yo, we should just do a tape.”
Robb: Yeah, and from there, we just started booking studio sessions together.
this whole tape, we did straight freestyling. - wifisfuneral
How did y'all initially meet?
Wifi: I met Robb for the first time at this event in South Florida called [inaudible] in South Miami. That was the first time I ever met him.
What is it called?
Wifi: [Distorted]. Say that one more time?
Ooh. OK, it's doing this weird, almost Transformers thing when you talk. Can you say that one more time?
Wifi: [Distorted]. Now I can't hear you. You're breaking up.
Oh, Jesus Christ. OK, yeah. This is... Can you try to talk again?
Scott (publicist): Hey, guys. I'm having trouble hearing you, too. You both sound like robots… Oh, I can hear you now. Is that better?
Wifi: Yeah, we can hear you now.
Robb: We can hear you now. We in Colorado, so you know. Mountains and shit.
Wifi: But yeah, I met Robb at this event called CD4, and then later that year, I opened up the Year of the Savage tour.
Robb: Yeah, but I ain't gon’ lie—I don't remember that. The first time I met Wifi was at Pouya’s studio, for me. That's what I remember.
Wifi: And I told you I was going on tour, right?
Robb: Yeah, yeah, and he told me, “I'm going on your tour.” I was like, “Word?” And then he came on the tour and then from there, that's how we met. That was the Year of the Savage tour. That was like, 2015, or something like that. Yeah, 2015 and then 2016.
Got you. So what is your working relationship like? Do you have different habits?
Wifi: It's very competitive, but like, friendly competition. We always try to bring the best out of each other.
Robb: Yeah... I don't know. I don't really see it as competitive, in my opinion. I see it more as like, I don't write, so I go in there and I sit down next to the mic, and I just... whatever comes out, comes out. Wifi, for this particular tape, that's pretty much what we did: freestyle.
Wifi: And the reason why I thought it was competitive was because it was different for me. I'm used to writing. Robb always freestyles, and this whole tape, we did straight freestyling. So it was me really just being competitive with my abilities, to see if I could keep up, type shit. First time ever freestyling.
Damn. Y'all fucking killed that.
Robb: I appreciate it, for real. Thank you so much.
No question. My two favorite tracks are “Can't Feel My Face” and “Nauseous.” And they're assembled completely differently. “Can't Feel My Face” has the interweaved verses, and on “Nauseous,” Robb has his verse, and then Wifi does the hook and his own verse. How did you put them together?
Robb: “Can't Feel My Face,” that was the first song we had did. Before “Save a Hoe” and “EA,” that's the first one we did. And I didn’t like that shit. I ain't gon’ lie—I hated that shit.
Robb: Yeah, Wifi hated it, too. We both didn’t like it. We both didn't like that shit. It was not supposed to make the tape, but both of our managers are the ones that chose it for the single. We was kind of upset—not really upset—we just disagreed. We didn’t think that was supposed to be the lead single, but it turned out for the best. As long as the fans love it, that's all. We happy, you know?
Well, shout out to your managers because “Can't Feel My Face” is a really fucking good song. You shot a video for that one, right?
Robb: Yeah, we shot it like two days before tour, a day before tour.
Do you have an idea of when that's coming out?
Robb: It should be coming out within two or three weeks, something like that.
I'll be on the lookout. Do you have personal favorite songs on this project? I told you what mine are.
Wifi: My favorite song on this project? “La Familia.”
Robb: I gotta look at the tracklist. Hold on one second... My favorite song is either “Anything” or “Like Me.” I like both of those.
“Like Me” is really good. I’m glad you mentioned it: In that song, you say, “You won’t fight me in my white tee,” which is, I'm assuming, a hat-tip to Dem Franchize Boyz?
Robb: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was a Dem Franchize Boyz look. I ain't gon’ lie, that's the perfect example of freestyling. Wifi was like, “Yo, I’m at the studio.” I pulled up. And I think I had like two other studio sessions that night. I had one session down the street from the studio we was recording at, at Hit Factory. We were recording at a studio called Audio Vision. I recorded like, two songs with Wifi and had to run back to Hit Factory with Bird[man], and I was just bouncing around different studios. I did the hook in like 10 minutes, and I did the verse in like 20 or something like that. It was just a freestyle but it came out [good], and I came back and Wifi had his verse done, so yeah.
The reason I ask that is because you had that reference, and I know in “Movin Slow,” Wifi, you say, “Loose as a goose, don't get me started.” That's Boosie. Who did y'all listen to coming up?
Robb: I listened to a lot of people. Honestly, too many people to name right now, but my favorite rapper is Wayne. That's where not writing comes from, things like that. I started out writing music, but I was like... shit, like 12. And I honed my skill when I was like 16, and around like 18 or 19, I stopped writing and I just started freestyling because I wanted to challenge myself and be a better artist and just see if I could do it like that. But I realized there’s a different side of Robb Banks when I write, and a different side of Robb when I freestyle. So, I just been trying to combine the two a little bit.
What about you, Wifi?
“Before I put out an album, I listen to everybody else's sh*t, just to make sure it ain't better than mine.” - robb banks
Wifi: Who I listen to the most? I listen to a lot of old Triple Six Mafia, they honestly inspire my sound. And that's pretty much it. That's really what I grew up on: old Bone Thugs, old Triple Six, Tommy Wright III. The list goes on and on.
Robb: Same. It’s a lot of people.
I know some artists don't like to listen to other current artists, so they don't have their sounds “infiltrated,” or whatever you want to say. Do y’all listen to anybody else in the game, right now?
Wifi: I don't like listening to new music, because new music doesn’t hit me the same way, like the music that inspires you.
Robb: Before I put out an album, I listen to everybody else's shit, just to make sure it ain't better than mine, to be honest. Only with an album. Like, Falconia, I'm gonna go and listen to everybody's album that dropped, and make sure mine is better. And that’s real talk. But besides that, I just listen to beats. I listen to me. Ain’t no rap artist I really listen to. If I wanna listen to something that ain't me, that ain't rap, that ain't just a beat that one of my producers made, I'll listen to R&B or something like that. Like Keith Sweat, Kut Klose, Aaliyah, and Sade. Shit like that. That's like, my favorite people to listen to, in the headphones.
Robb: Yeah, I love Aaliyah. That's my baby.
Let's talk a little bit about tour. What's a typical show-attendance ratio, in terms of men versus women, and age range?
Robb: Can you repeat the question again? I'm sorry.
No worries. I said, who typically comes to your shows?
Robb: It's a mixture, to be honest. My shows—if I was touring by myself—there would be a lot of girls. There would be a lot of females in the crowd. Wifi, what about you?
Wifi: I just got a mixture of everything, honestly. My sound doesn’t really dominate a specific demographic. It's really just a demographic, I guess you could say, of people that can relate to my music.
Robb: Same, same, same. Like, I make a lot of women for music… [Laughs]. A lot of women for music. I make a lot of music for women, but when I’m not rapping about that type of stuff, I feel like whoever gravitates to it, gravitates to it. And they feel the energy that I'm trying to give out. You know what I mean?
For sure. Robb, did I see that you're not performing stuff from No Rooftops, like certain projects?
Robb: Yes: I'm only performing stuff off Calendars, C2, Tha City, a few songs off Molly World. Year of the Savage. As far as my solo shit. Besides the stuff off Conn3ct3d, those are the only [projects] I’m performing shit off of.
Wifi, what are you performing?
Wifi: I'm performing a lot of old singles that gravitate to a lot of my fans, that kind of like, built my core following. A lot of songs from Black Heart Revenge, a couple songs from Boy Who Cried Wolf, and yeah, that's about it, honestly.
Got you. Robb, I just wanted to really quickly ask why you're not performing anything from No Rooftops? I have a particular fondness for it, so I'm just being nosy.
Robb: So you like No Rooftops?
Robb: Can I get your name again?
Robb: Kiana, OK. I'mma make sure when I do the song, I'mma shout it out for you. But what song from No Rooftops do you want? Because I don't know what song to perform off that.
Well, “Grown Boy” is very, very special for me.
Robb: Damn… damn. I have not heard “Grown Boy” in a long time. That's crazy... crazy. I might do that tonight. I definitely might do that tonight. Shout out to you, Kiana. I might do that, for real.
Shout me out, have somebody record that shit. [Laughs]. No, but for real. What makes a successful tour for y'all?
Robb: Just a good chemistry on stage and a good energy in the crowd. And just a show that the fans ultimately have fun at. That's all I care about. I just wanna make sure that we give the fans an experience. And I specifically said on the internet, and speaking to my core, that this is essentially for the day ones. On my part, on the green-hearted side, it’s for my day ones.
And on Wifi's side, I feel like it’s that, as well. This tour is for the day ones. So when we do our solo songs, even if the newer fans don't know ‘em, they gotta learn ‘em. You know what I mean? Because this is what made Robb Banks as an artist, this is what made Wifi as an artist, also. Them particular songs.
Are you willing to share the craziest thing that's ever happened to y'all on tour?
Robb: Yes. The craziest thing that ever happened to me on tour... I don't know, I've gotten this question a bunch of times, but I've gone on so many tours after that. I remember one time on the Year of the Savage tour, it was a big, fat-ass bitch that just kept trying to break into the door, like, bum-rushed the door. All my niggas tried to get her to go away, and they just kept coming back, like, “She too big, bruh. She too big.” That was crazy.
But then again, I went on tour with X, and that shit was crazy, too, with X just wilding out every fucking day, you know what I mean? A lot of shit has happened on tour, so I can't really particularly choose one. Like, I could be on a tour with Jah, like the Revenge tour... What’s the craziest thing that happened on Revenge tour [Wifi]?
Wifi: When Jah dove into the crowd, and Tank[head] followed right behind him.
Robb: Oh yeah, and kicked the shit out them niggas?
Wifi: Straight in the face.
Robb: Yeah, yeah, that was crazy.
That classifies as crazy.
Robb: It’s a lot of different things. A lot of different things that happened back then. It’s been a lot of tours.
Unfortunately, Wifi, I haven't been able to see you live yet. Robb, I saw you at Rolling Loud in 2016.
Robb: You did?
...and you got a little tired after a couple songs. I'm not trying to be mean, but I was like, “Damn.” [Laughs].
Robb: I was smoking [a lot of] cigarettes at the time. I don’t smoke cigarettes no more.
Oh, you don't?
Robb: I was probably just out of it.
So how do you feel, stamina-wise? Are y’all ready for a full tour like this?
Robb: Yeah, last night, I didn't get tired. How long did we do?
Wifi: We did like, a 30-minute set. 30, almost 40.
Robb: Yeah, 30 to 40 minutes. Tonight, we probably gonna do an hour.
Wifi: It was the first day of tour, so we just wanted to take it light.
That makes sense. Robb, on “Nauseous,” you say, “Niggas stole my style, copy.” What is your style, specifically?
Robb: You know my style. You know they be stealing my lil’ sauce, but it's cool. You dig. [Laughs].
I mean, I know your style.
Robb: They know what they be doing. You know what they be doing, Kiana! Don’t do that.
Do I? Do I? [Laughs].
Robb: I know you be seeing it. You know what they be doing, you be seeing it.
OK—so you don't want to comment on what exactly, or who exactly, you're talking about.
Robb: Honestly, it’s too many people to name. Niggas be stealing the sauce. It's like, man... if I pick my nose and wipe it on somebody's face, it's gonna be a trend. That's how I feel. Niggas be stealing everything, so it don't mean nothing. I'm not trying to sound cocky, but it's literally facts, it's proven. Like, I've done this... [inaudible] you feel me? I don’t speak on it, because I can reinvent myself... [Inaudible].
Wait, hold up, hold up. Sorry, you're breaking up. Can you say that one more time, please? Hello?
Scott, the publicist: You guys are breaking up. Could you maybe move the phone around a little bit or something? I can't hear you.
Scott: Yeah, I can hear you now.
Robb: OK, OK.
What were you saying, if you remember?
Robb: Yeah, that was it. It's just, niggas be stealing your sauce, that’s all.
OK then. Y'all are from South Florida, and I'm from Texas, so I relate a lot to...
Robb: Texaaas… So you coming to the Texas shows?
It depends on when the dates are.
Robb: Just go on my IG, they're there. I got two pictures up: The first one is the dates. Come out to the Texas dates. You gon’ see.
Oh shit, that's hella soon. I just got back from Texas for New Year's Eve, so I don't know if I'll be able to make that one.
Robb: Oh, man.
But if anything, I can catch y’all at Highline when you come through in February. [Note: Because Highline Ballroom is closing, the NYC date will now be at Sony Hall.]
Robb: Aight then.
I’ll have more lyrics down by then. So yeah, do you feel like being from South Florida has affected what you rap about? Like, “Nauseous” is pretty much about lean.
Robb: Of course. Of course. I mean, Florida affects everything I do. Broward County is in the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I rap—the way I do everything. Anything you can name, it’s Broward like that, for me. And it's the same way for you [Wifi].
Wifi: Yeah, honestly, everything that I do and I represent is Palm Beach County. Even if I didn't want to be that, I'd be lying to myself if I wasn't that.
I know you both said that you don't listen to anybody currently, but Future just dropped...
Robb: Oh, I listen to that!
Robb: I listen to that. I definitely listen to that, yes.
He said that he recently quit lean, and he didn't tell his fans because he thought that they would listen to him differently. If you ever make that decision, will you publicly discuss it?
Robb: I mean, who's to say I haven't made that decision? But at the same time, you don't know if I really did or not. You know what I mean? Nobody's with me in my personal life every single day. All I will say is this: To my fans, I don't do drugs. I haven't done drugs in a long time. I feel like music is my drug and I am drugs. Even when I was heavy taking pills or whatever, I felt like I was a drug, and that shit ain't never did nothing to me. That shit... like the drug needed me. You see what I'm saying? But now, I feel like I have the advantage—[the drugs] need me, but I can't give them that. I gotta give 110% to my music... [Inaudible].
Hold on, I'm sorry. I got most of that, then it started cutting out again. But I think I got the gist of it.
Robb: [Distorted]. I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you, Kiana.