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Wiki/NAH - Telephonebooth Music Album Reviews

Wiki/NAH - Telephonebooth Music Album Reviews
The NYC rapper’s latest is a 22-minute blast of dank, dingy, experimental rhymes that feels too fleeting to be a long-term stylistic shift.

Swift and changeable, Patrick Morales is a misfit of many cloaks. Since emerging as a slinger of screwball flows in the New York collective Ratking, Wiki has charted sleepless world tours, coaxed out one of Ghostface Killah’s best latter-day verses, and inducted himself into the “deli hall of fame.” He’s done this across No Mountains in Manhattan, a serious attempt at making the Great East Coast Rap Record, and the grimier OOFIE—two albums that alchemized bodega-level street rhymes and alt-rap weirdness. In commercial terms, it hasn’t made Wiki the next A$AP Rocky—a deal with XL proved short term as he u-turned back to independence. But he did unite The New Yorker and DJ Booth in exalting praise. Now, taking his cues from the colder and more cracked sound of a new generation of NYC bohemians, Wiki dashes into a midtown telephone booth and bursts out in his darkest robes, looking like a rap game Venom.

On the other end of the phone line is NAH. The Philadelphia-born, Antwerp-based producer is a long-time Wiki confidante having previously been called in to add an extra layer of production on OOFIE. But Telephonebooth is something different, more spectral. It’s a 22-minute blast of dank, dingy, experimental rap, as songless as Wiki’s last two projects were songful. No track sees the three-minute mark, and 11 of the 14 cuts clock in at less than two minutes. This slightness is occasionally frustrating: “Shit Blood” features a wonderful beat that harnesses what sounds drawn from 1980s quiet storm and is desperate to be fleshed out into a more full-bodied song. But you take the project for what it is: a bunch of good raps on blood-raw instrumentals.

Telephonebooth comfortably fits in the corner of underground New York rap blazed by the likes of MIKE, Adé Hakim, Caleb Giles, and Slauson Malone. The atmosphere is brutal. NAH’s drums frequently glitch and drop out. The samples warp like misshapen vinyl. Wiki’s verses sound informal—almost freestyled—as he dips and dives in strange patterns and angles, witnessing the world through a sepia lens. 

There are fewer overt nods to New York than before but peer in close enough, and you’ll still see a Subway map. Opener “Life Like?” enters the screen with superfly Harlem trumpets that spark memories of Jay-Z’s “The Ruler’s Back.” Jigga’s 1996 classic even gets a shout-out on “Hip Hop”: “Learned to see through the evils/Learned it from Reasonable Doubt when I was a teen, yo.” Wiki also takes the opportunity to name-drop Russell Crowe and Deebo from Friday, admirably dedicated to keeping his references era-specific.

The most well-thought-out song is “No Work.” NAH’s beat sounds like a descent into a mysterious vortex. Wiki’s fluttering delivery may or may not have been directly lifted from Kanye West’s on “Addiction.” Here, the rapper calls in sick for his day job, sounding like a young bum flaking for no good reason, even if it means coming up short on rent. It’s anti-bling-bling rap depicting the daily grind, reminiscent of Ye’s “Spaceship,” a microcosm of Wiki’s ability to pull influence from alternative viewpoints.

“The Crown” could be interpreted as Wiki’s rejection of the legend of the King of New York or even a vicious critique of his homeland’s current rap scene. Morales describes finding a crown among debris, dusting it off, and placing it on his head to see if it fits. The idea that he could be coronated in such a low-key manner, on such a low-key record, feels almost offensive to hip-hop’s birthplace. Then again, this is Wiki jumping on a new and extremely harsh form of New York rap that takes pleasure in deforming the old. It’s as if by insulting the very idea of the King of New York, Wiki finally said what others who indulge in this new style had been secretly thinking.

Telephonebooth feels too fleeting, too minor, to be a long-term stylistic shift for the restless rapper, and for sure it’s not his finest record. Importantly, though, at this point of his trajectory, it’s a strong assertion that Wiki has no problem tearing up what worked for him in the past to keep things moving. In doing so, he remains one of his city’s most gripping voices.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Wiki/NAH - Telephonebooth Music Album Reviews Wiki/NAH - Telephonebooth Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 Rating: 5

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