A few weeks ago, we posted the video for "Wikispeaks" by 18-year-old Manhattan rapper Patrick "Wiki" Morales. At the time, we weren't sure who he was, but we knew his song was dope. Intrigued, we sought out Wiki's 1993 EP, which dropped last October and mostly went unnoticed. As it turns out, the six-song EP is nothing short of excellent.
The EP features Wiki spits endless bars with his high-pitched nasal voice that's oh so reminiscent of a young Slim Shady. However, his lyrics are probably more comparable to Buckshot and the project was in fact inspired by Cam'ron's S.D.E. The record has its own specific aesthetic that's distinctly New York and totally unlike anything else filling up blog posts today.
We had to know more so we got down with Wiki and his RATKING crew. We met up at RATKING headquarters in Harlem, New York. Though their HQ is mostly just a bachelor pad where two of the group members live, art drapes the walls and never-ending discussions about rap abound.
As it turns out, young Wiki One Eyebrow (which he calls himself in reference to his uni-brow) can wax poetic for hours about how Cam'ron never fell off, how Eminem didn't murder Jay-Z on his own shit, and how Wu-Tang Clan really ain't nothing to fuck with.
Most of Wiki's rap discussions are with fellow founding member of RATKING, producer SPORTINGLIFE, who produced all of 1993. We sat down with the RATKING crew to find out Who Is Wiki? and even got a ton of insight from SPORTINGLIFE. So click ahead and read about the New York's newest dope MC...
As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
Wiki: “I was born in New York and I grew up on the Upper West Side, which is where I live now. My dad is Puerto Rican and my mom is Irish. My dad works for like an Argentinean bank or some shit. So I’m, like, well off, upper-middle class. I’m a senior in high school and I’m 18 years old.
“I’m in a group called RATKING. It’s me, SPORTINGLIFE, RACERRA, and another rapper named HAK. RATKING’s headquarters are in Harlem [where the ‘Piece of Shit’ video was shot]. It’s where we do all our music and our art, and it’s also where SPORTINGLIFE and RACERRA live.
“Originally, my rap name is based on Wikipedia. Me and my boy Googs—Google—started a little group called Wiki and Googs when I was in 8th Grade. From there, it was Wiki and it just eventually became a nickname. Anyone who met me past 9th grade calls me Wiki. So from there it was Wiki. Wise Kindergarten, that’s another one.”
Learning to Rap
Learning to Rap
Wiki:“I started rapping when I was in 6th grade. It’s mad funny, I was on a school ski trip with some of my friends. We started a group called Five Years Young. It was kind of like a joke. Then we started writing. We did a talent show at my school, and I ended up being nicer than the other people in my group. That’s how I started spitting.
I had a math teacher and a Spanish teacher who grew up in the Bronx and they were into hip-hop. They spit a little bit, so we would cyph. It was funny because they were my teachers.
“Then I had a math teacher and a Spanish teacher who grew up in the Bronx and they were into hip-hop. They taught me a lot about hip-hop. I was always into hip-hop but [they gave me] more details. They spit a little bit, so we would cyph. It was funny because they were my teachers.
“They [taught me the] essentials. When I was younger, I was just on whatever was out. I didn’t know a lot about hip-hop. I just said, ‘Yeah, I love hip-hop.’ But they taught me how to cypher. And they got me accustomed to the elements like graffiti, break dancing—all that shit.
“Also, my camp counselor was Jimmy from Junk Science. I used to go to this camp called Incarnation Camp and I went there since I was young. It’s a dope camp. People always make fun of me because I always tell mad camp stories for hours.
“There was an older section called PV where you get to cook all your own food, make your own fire and whatever and Jimmy was my main counselor for that. That’s how we ended up talking and we would always cypher. Then I would send him my music. I guess he saw the video [for ‘Wiki Speaks’] and tried to hook it up, which is dope as fuck.”
Wiki: “I was always into hip-hop but I was into a lot of other shit [too]. I went through mad phases growing up. When I was in like 6th grade, I went through the ill Ramones phase. We all had like the Ramones outfits; tight pants and leather jackets. That was mad funny.
“I had a really big period of just Wu-Tang. Straight up. There was a time when I was just about ’90s shit like Wu, Nas, Biggie, and that’s that’s all I listened to.
“My Top 5 favorite rappers that aren’t shit that people always say—because I don’t want to be like ‘Nas, Biggie, etc.’ So my Top 5 is Big Pun, Juvenille, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Cam’ron, and Buckshot. Cam’ron is number one. But people have said 1993 reminded them of Buckshot and Black Moon.”
Wiki: “Our boy is Tataka is [Oscar nominated film director] Christine Choy’s son. We’ve been chilling at Tataka’s house all throughout high school. Christine is like the chillest mom ever. We can get down there and chill; she doesn’t give a shit. She’s always been crazy. Before I even knew about her films.
“The first time you meet her, she’ll just curse you out like, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ And like just shit on you. And if you don’t talk, she’ll be like, ‘Why the fuck don’t you speak?’ She goes in. But we have a close relationship with her. Her son is our really good friend, we’ve been chilling with him for mad long.
“So we were like, ‘Yo we gotta have the ill Christine joint interview—if people get it, they get it, if they don’t, then fuck’em.’ And it wasn’t even an interview; it’s just her going off. That shit is ill. When people tell us they love the interview, it’s like the dopest shit ever. Who knows? They might go and look up Christine Choy and that’s just bringing that to a whole new generation to some ill New York shit.”
Meeting Sporting Life
Wiki: “We know this dude Aaron or A-Ron as some call him, he used to own a clothing company called aNYthing. He would kind of help get me little shows when I was a sophomore in high school. I would just put on a beat and spit verses. Two years ago, I was doing this park jam he had down in the L.E.S., and SPORTINGLIFE was there.
“I was looking for producers and he was like, ‘You should come through. I think we could work together.’ Then from there we met up and we kept working. It’s funny because mad people would always hit me up and send me beats, and I didn’t necessarily fuck with them or want to meet up. On a whim, we just kind of met up [and it took off].”
SPORTINGLIFE: “When you try talking to us, and try to pull bullshit, our wisdom comes out. I think the combination of a person [who’s older] and a person [who’s younger], what that combines to in 2012 is something that hasn’t been seen yet. Youth and wisdom is a powerful combination.”
Wiki: “RATKING performs with two SP’s with two guys on beat machines doing beats, and then me and Hak are spitting. It’s not just a beat or an instrumental played, which a lot of people do these days. One time I saw Cam play and they were just playing the song, not even an instrumental. Rap shows are wack in general. We’re trying to make a dope show.”
We wanna play ill hip-hop, with the power of bands. So when we say we play our stuff over, it’s not even the samples that are on the pads, it’s how we think the music should sound to a person in the audience. - SPORTINGLIFE
SPORTINGLIFE: “They’re not wack to the people though. People think that’s what a show’s supposed to be. That’s why we’re gonna smash it. A show is not supposed to be playing 40 seconds of a song and stopping it. Or maybe that was how a show was, but it’s not how we see it.”
Wiki: “We’ve all been involved with other scenes of music. So it allows us to look in on the hip-hop world and then compare that to other shit. We’re not just solely hip-hop heads. For me hip-hop is number one, but it’s good to have a lot of different perspectives.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “So you know what a dope live show is. You know when you see Bad Brains perform, that’s what a fucking live show is. Now you might not be able to do exact same things in hip-hop, because some of the attendants in hip-hop keep you cool, but you can bring it back in some ways. That’s what we’re trying to bring, how do you leave the stage sweaty? Like rockers performing.
“That doesn’t matter and shit, but we wanna play ill hip-hop, with the power of bands. So when we say we play our stuff over, it’s not even the samples that are on the pads, it’s how we think the music should sound to a person in the audience.
“That’s important to us and we’re just gonna get better at that over time. We treat our live shows seriously. I think we can attract enough people to even change the way hip-hop shows are done. We perform with punk bands all the time, and it’s not like we’re on some Rap/Rock shit.
“That’s what I want to see in New York come back. That organic, just giving people dope shit—fuck a genre. I would like more people in positions of power to make things like that happen. Because that’s what we are in this room, the differences between us. A show can be put on with the bands and we’ll all enjoy that. And that to me is New York back.
“This whole New York back hip-hop, I’m talking New York back idea wise. Motherfuckers need to start takings risks. New York is scared yo, New York is shook.”
Wiki: “The first shit I actually recorded was 1993. We had two written songs on YouTube of me spitting but they weren’t official songs. That was like the first time we [made songs]. We worked on that all together and Sporting Life did all the production.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “We started working together on this project called RATKING. Back then it was just me and Wiki. The stuff we were doing then was way more experimental.
It was kind of influenced by Suicide, kind of like post-punk. Suicide and The Wu were the biggest inspirations for that. If you combine those two, that’s what that stuff was.
“It was kind of influenced by Suicide, kind of like post-punk. Suicide and The Wu were the biggest inspirations for that. If you combine those two, that’s what that stuff was. So we did that for a while.
“People get beats from everywhere, so if we don’t do that and instead we talk and make it a cohesive thing, not only will we make something that we believe in, but something people will believe in. I’m not an idiot, and you’re not an idiot. If we make it like this, someone who thinks like us is gonna feel it.”
Wiki: “Then we kind of took a break for a minute. After a while, I was trying to do a solo project and I was just trying to get beats from people. I wanted to have beats that were made for the project but I couldn’t find any ill beats.
“The shit I got was from kids from high schools that I knew. They could have been good in a couple of years, like good enough, but they were just a little elementary, not fully developed.
“So then I was like to Sporting Life, ‘You gotta help me with this solo project.’ At first he was kind of just like, ‘Yeah I’ll help you with a couple of beats.’ As we started meeting, he was like, ‘Alright I’ll help you with the project.’
“Then it just became like, ‘Alright we’re back together. From there it was like it’s kind of a RATKING project because all of us were working on it.
“My boy Hak, he’s in RATKING too, he’s on that project. So in a way, it is a RATKING project, but it’s kind of like Wiki’s solo project because it doesn’t have the other elements. When we made it, it wasn’t meant to be a group project so it comes off like a solo project.”
“We started that the beginning of last summer and we put it out in October. We were working on it for a while. The thing is we were trying to figure out where to record it.
“We ended up recording [at RATKING headquarters], just like on a mic. We had it recorded for mad long but we were trying to figure out who could mix it. Sporting Life ended up mixing it himself and he doesn’t have a lot of experience doing that, but he was like, ‘Fuck it.’”
SPORTINGLIFE: “It was mixed on Ableton, Live with studio monitors. And it was recorded and mixed completely [at RATKING headquarters]. It came out pretty good. I still think when I hear major label records, [they sound so] clear. So our mixing will definitely step up. We’re big on sonics anyway.”
Cam’ron & S.D.E.
Cam’ron & S.D.E.
Wiki: “We based 1993 off Cam’ron’s S.D.E. (Sports, Drugs, & Entertainment). The sound of 1993 comes from that.
“Cam’s S.D.E. was just the first thing, from there, mad shit came in to that. We thought it was an era of Cam that was untapped. Artists always talk about S.D.E.; it’s very much a rapper’s album.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “Yeah, a album for rappers. Yeah. And that’s what 1993 is, an album for rappers.
“We were trying to base it off of something we both could feel, and Cam’ron’s S.D.E. was one of the many things. SDE is mad ill though. The song with ODB, ‘Violence,’ that’s like Noise, that’s like some Suicide shit. How that song sounds with ODB screaming on it, that sounds like some Noise shit.
“Digga is a forgotten producer, he produced most of those tracks for early Cam. His beats were ill. We liked how it was mostly one producer, one sound with Cam. First it was Digga and then it was like Heatmakerz, with Kanye tracks here and there.”
NY Club Scene
NY Club Scene
Wiki: “My whole high school career, I was chilling downtown. Any sexy girl in high school goes to clubs and fucks mad 20-year-olds and does mad coke and shit. So, like, we think that shit is wack.
“Not only that, but everyone always going out to clubs and people coming to New York and thinking that’s all you have to do [is wack]. Artists used to come to New York and make shit happen.”
There’s no artists, there’s just club kids who dress like artists. These dudes just club. You just drink and do a lot of drugs, you’re not an artist. You’re like 10% artists and 90% on the phone. Like, blogger art cokeheads.
SPORTINGLIFE: “Now there’s no artists, there’s just club kids who dress like artists. These dudes just club. You just drink and do a lot of drugs, you’re not an artist. You’re like 10% artists and 90% on the phone. Like, blogger art cokeheads.”
“It’s funny, that’s like a new genre almost. It doesn’t have to be music, it doesn’t have to be as good as music had to be. It’s like it’s own mini-fashion-music genre where all the rules in regular music don’t apply. It’s like a lot of bands who sit in that fucking zone and we’re gonna expose them all. [Laughs.]
“Not literally, but through music. You’re gonna have to say, ‘Hold on. Somebody is doing work. Fuck—we’re going to have to start doing work again.’ It can’t be all fashion when you see some motherfuckers doing work.”
Wiki: “Yeah, like Theophilus London, I don’t fuck with him. I don’t know what the appeal is with him.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “We always talk about how we should be more like craftsman than models. Craftsmen as in how you dress, how you carry yourself, what’s important to you.
“It’s like how dudes jumped on Pharrell for the whole skateboarding thing. The reason why they did that is because they were like, that’s not what skateboardings about. You can’t do a kick-flip with a big doofy gold chain on.”
Wiki: “I always was on Supreme growing up. It’s not that I don’t own anything that is Supreme. I have a Gravediggaz RZA Supreme shirt that was my friend’s but he gave it to me. That’s why when I was in 10th grade I had this rap line like, ‘Hypebeast, I can’t stand these clowns/Only fucks with Supreme when it’s hand-me-downs.’ That’s what I’m trying to say.
“[In the video we wear vintage Polo] but it’s like real fashion. It’s not synthetic and fake. That’s something that we realized; It’s fashion but not trying so hard to be cool or something.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “How you carry yourself, you’re gonna find out what’s important to that person by how they dress. What we want to do comes first, and then everything else comes second.”
“Yeah, I like to dress nice, but that’s not gonna come before me wanting to make a dope beat. Whatever happens, happens. That doesn’t mean you try to be on some grunge shit; dress as nice as your means but appropriate.”
New York & The South
New York & The South
Wiki: “When we first talked, what caught my attention was because he was like, ‘You sound like you’re from New York.’ There’s plenty of rappers that are from New York that don’t sound like it. I feel like because of the Internet and all that, it’s so easy.
Harlem is built of off Southern Blacks coming up to Harlem. It’s like Southern culture, churches on every other block and soul food.
“Like a dude that’s in the middle of America—I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that dude, and this is good things and bad things—they can sound exactly like a New York rapper, they don’t have to be from New York. They can dress exactly like some dude from New York. There used to be more distinct styles.
“That’s dope because now some dude who isn’t from L.A., or New York, or one of these cities, can get put on because he’s talented as fuck. But also, it takes something away. New York rappers don’t sound as authentic to their city.”
“I’m not this dude that’s like, ‘Yeah, underground all the way.’ I fuck with A$AP. I was in an argument with someone a while ago about A$AP. Someone was saying, ‘Well, A$AP doesn’t sound like he’s a New Yorker or he’s from New York.’ And I was like, ‘Nah, that’s not true.’ And then I just went back and forth but then I flipped it on him O.D.
“I was like, ‘Yo, think about Harlem. Harlem is built of off Southern Blacks coming up to Harlem. It’s like Southern culture, churches on every other block and soul food. It’s like Southern culture in New York. And the fact that he’s taking popular Southern music and making that some New York shit, is some next shit.’”
Art & Music
Art & Music
Wiki: “We have artists that work with us too. This dude Arvid, he writes. We have the RATKING tee. So we have merchandise, ready to go once we can get orders of that shit. We just screen it ourselves for now, but we have ideas for merchandise.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “None of it’s random. It goes from that shirt, through the music, all the way to the video. It’s concurrent themes through all that shit.
We were really into Rammellzee and his whole iconoclasm. Rammellzee is... I don’t know if you’d call him a genius or out of this world. - SPORTINGLIFE
“Letter Racer was the name of these skateboard sculptures that Rammellzee was developing. Just the name sounded dope. We were really into Rammellzee and his whole iconoclasm. Rammellzee is...I don’t know if you’d call him a genius or out of this world.”
Wiki: “To us, Rammellzee defines hip-hop, but then he’s so not what hip-hop is now.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “But he’s totally hip-hop at the same time, without being artsy. That’s why it’s so perfect as Letter Racer because Rammellzee embodies what Letter Racer is about. Like we can be the dopest artists and illest hip-hop group at the same time.”
Wiki: “That’s more of a bigger umbrella of all of our group; art and music. Originally, Letter Racer, we were gonna try to make a zine type magazine out of it and put music throughout it. It didn’t work out, but hopefully in the future it can.
“The cover of 1993, I did that in art class in sophomore year. It happened to have Wiki93 on it. Later we named the project 1993 and I brought my portfolio out and we found it.
“We were originally gonna use another picture, just a picture of some subway shit. Then I took that out and Eric was like, ‘Yo, you gotta use that for the cover.’ In the end we’re happy because that embodies me, and the color of it is really dope.
“The cover was supposed to be some African mask type shit. That’s what we were basing it on. But then it’s got some like New York type tribal shit on it.
“Then there’s the Wiki flag, and we always perform with the Wiki Flag, which is like the Puerto Rican-Irish combo. We have mad flags that I designed.”
Wiki: “The dope part for me is like, I don’t need to live [fancy]. I understand how if all your life you’re broke as fuck, and when you get paid you’re gonna ‘ball out.’ In my mindset, there’s no need to do that. No matter how paid I am, I’m know I’m gonna live relatively humbly. Which is dope, Fuck that, I’ll live Uptown or I’ll live [in Harlem] in some nice ass brownstone or some shit.”
No matter how paid I am, I’m know I’m gonna live relatively humbly. Which is dope. I’ll live Uptown or I’ll live [in Harlem] in some nice-ass brownstone. - Wiki
SPORTINGLIFE: “I think we’re definitely interested in finding equally unique ways to sustain our artwork and live off of our work. However that comes it comes, we don’t really have any preconceived notions.”
“Obviously you grew up listening to rap, so you have some type of delusional idea of what the industry is. I really don’t know too much about the industry other than my short dealings with it being an up-and-coming producer. But we really want to have alternative ways to make our music.
“We definitely value control. [I’ve learned that maybe] the guys in the position of making decisions aren’t really that smart, or they’re outdated, or they’re calcified in their thinking. Your pineal gland is completely calcified.
“In one movie Bill Cunningham, he talks about, ‘Never take any money, and they’ll never be able to tell you what to do.’ People needed to loosen their attachment to money anyway. Like when Dave Chappelle did that $50 million deal, that shit has an affect on the consciousness of the public in that way.
“I feel like there comes to a time where you make a choice and you’re either like, ‘Man I’m gonna keep listening to what these guys say,’ or realize you might know something about the music you’ve studied, and listened to, and interacted with your whole life.
We don’t know everything. So we want to make a decision that keeps food in your refrigerator and keeps your rent paid. Everything else is extra. - SPORTINGLIFE
“You may know something about that more than this next guy. But are you gonna let him make you believe you don’t, or are you gonna believe in yourself? That’s why we’re at the point where we’re just gonna believe in ourselves.
“This is the year of Jeremy Lin. The establishment's saying, ‘We know how to do things,’ and then that shit is crumbling right in your face, and you don’t even realize that shit until Jeremy Lin is in the All-Star game. That seems to be a concurrent theme running around. People being underestimated and coming through in a big way.
“We don’t know everything. So we want to make a decision that keeps food in your refrigerator and keeps your rent paid. Everything else is extra. Some practical dope shit. That’s what we’re about, some practical dope shit.”
Wiki: “We’re working on RATKING right now. We started coming out with a structure for the project and shit. We’re gonna try to get 1993 out a little bit more because it never got out too much. Trying to find someone to manage us hopefully and then just try to do shows and get out there.
“[As far as major labels] Honestly, we just wanna be able to do us. We just wanna have freedom with what we do. If a major label was like, ‘Yeah, you can make the music you wanna make.’ I don’t know how all of this works, I’m not in the industry. I guess we’re interested in being independent because we kind of feel like, do you really have to be on a major label?”
“I feel like since the Internet, you’ll see people from this level, and this level on the same blog. Like, people are watching on the same format on the Internet, it’s like, you can be independent, and as long as you have that appeal. Even if it’s not perfectly there yet, you just have that potential. Keep working.”
SPORTINGLIFE: “We listen to Wiki’s rhymes over and over and over. Just me being like a fan of music, his shit is just so technically sound and it’s still advancing.
“That’s what people don’t realize. In this day and age people develop in public so they never really develop. As soon as they put their first thing out, they’re the beat-maker. Since they’re in the public eye and you can like throw your stuff on the Internet so quickly, you never really have the chance to switch shit.
“People just come out and it’s so derivative. So forget about a new sound being made.
“We definitely value bringing in an idea, bouncing it around amongst informed older parties, younger parties, new friends, and find a way to make the right decisions.”