Wiki / Subjxct 5 - Cold Cuts Music Album Reviews

Wiki / Subjxct 5 - Cold Cuts Music Album Reviews
Where 2021’s Half God was a farewell to the Manhattan of Wiki’s youth, the follow-up lacks that record’s deliberate agenda, channeling its freewheeling energy into a free-associative writing style.

The most enigmatic element of Wiki’s raps, dating back to his teenaged years with the New York revival outfit Ratking, is a sleight of hand bordering on caginess. As a narrator, Wiki proudly personifies his hometown; as in the work of earlier Downtown fixtures Joseph Mitchell and Lucy Sante, it can be unclear whether he’s testifying for himself or on behalf of his nine million neighbors. It goes beyond his inflection, his hyper-local references, his day-in-the-life chronicles and not-in-my-backyard territorialism. On his most vibrant outing, 2017’s No Mountains in Manhattan, these cohered into a kinetic panorama, a bustling cityscape of sights, sounds, and scents. When he reduces his scope, it can be difficult to separate Wiki from his environs: Even if he’s the loudest, most animated man on the street, he’s still a man on the street.

A half-Irish, half-Nuyorican man raised on the Upper West Side, Wiki attended prep school in Brooklyn before settling in Chinatown; his most introspective raps probe the contradictions of home and identity, though his habit of evoking New York via aesthetic touchstones—the clatter of the F train, the gooey melt of a bacon, egg, and cheese—can feel reductive, especially given the insular spaces he occupies. If 2021’s Half God was a farewell to the Manhattan of his youth, the album’s tension lay in its bitterness, Wiki’s abiding wish to wrest back the city from gentrifying arrivistes. The follow-up, Cold Cuts, is both a concession and a step forward in which Wiki and producer Subjxct 5 cut a path through the rubble of de Blasio’s New York.

Half God was a difficult record not so much for its anger as for its politics. Surveying the city’s ferocious churn, Wiki defaulted into wary nativism, voicing a decades-late plea for authenticity. Cold Cuts lacks its predecessor’s deliberate agenda, channeling its freewheeling energy into a free-associative writing style. Its structure is an inversion of Telephone Booth’s minute-long snapshots: Unbroken by hooks, Wiki’s long-winded monologues are shaped by internal rhyme schemes rather than narrative trajectories. On “Jersey Sub,” a half-remembered NBA broadcast frames Wiki and Subjxct’s origin story; around the four-minute mark, Wiki reverts to more familiar territory, expounding on Northeastern weather patterns and Keith Murray’s Jive catalog.

Even the most straightforward tracks are suffused with kaleidoscopic dissonance. Where “Butta Leather” is on its surface an earnest ballad, its pivots reveal a squalid underbelly, volleying between intimate confessions and graphic sex fantasies. On “The Fonz,” Wiki’s gnarled verses unfold like oral history, careening asides disclosing his characters’ uneasy alliances. There’s a Kendrick-esque wistfulness to Wiki’s adolescent flashbacks—grade-school pals inevitably diverge into shitty adulthoods—but the song’s lived-in quality is a function of its visual referents. His cooked Wallabees are “butter-colored, prob’ly smothered, stained wine on the sides”; an old neighbor “went from the sloppy little jit to papi with the lisp, gold poppin’ out his lip.”

Like all of Wiki’s music, Cold Cuts drifts through a hazy past, yet its collaborations avoid rose-tinted melancholy. Subjxct 5 approaches Swizz Beatz and Dame Grease’s turn-of-the-century production with academic reverence, emulating their synths and bass drums on “Bones” and “Evergreen.” While Subjxct is an adept mimic of their imposing tempos and glossy instrumentals, his mixes lack their digitized precision, playing like DIY tributes to New York’s blockbuster era. “Ricky” recalls the Neptunes’ stuttering guitars on “Luv U Better”; “One More Chance” follows the “Hard Knock Life” formula with a choppy snare and choral sample. Subjxct barks interstitial ad-libs like a young Kay Slay, further rooting his arrangements in the early 2000s.

In spite of the shotgun approach, Wiki takes the occasion to document New York’s ongoing desecration. Although “Come Home” is a rigorous municipal dispatch, it’s burdened by the weary ambassador schtick. After stilted attempts to interrogate his own ambivalence, Wiki arrives at a diagnosis of spiritual decline: “This city, it brings the most pretentious, we all feel we got the most perspective, but is it so?/Could be broke, no diploma, still walk around with our nose up, like we know something y’all don’t.” He imagines the city through an immigrant’s eyes, then bemoans the proliferation of $20 avocado toast. His grievances land with a sullen flatness—but mostly, his attempts to condense New York’s essence into four-minute rap songs feel increasingly futile.

Wiki’s autobiographical material goes down easier than his man-of-the-people raps, although the stream-of-consciousness creates a glancing effect. “My Life” features some of Cold Cuts’ most intricate rhymes, recalling youthful indiscretions and his indoctrination into rap music (“It was Biggie, it was Christopher, that got me through high school/‘Suicidal Thoughts’ got me, I was suicidal”). The memoiristic fragments are piercing, his distinctive language delivered with a casual matter-of-factness. But they’re pieced together like a mosaic, relayed in jittery narrative leaps like a stand-up doing crowdwork. Across six and a half minutes, the gut-punch climax never materializes; as ever, it’s tough to distinguish Wiki from his surroundings and influences.

As tethered as Cold Cuts is to the Y2K era, its supporting cast places it on the cutting edge. In place of his usual collaborators—wordy old souls like Your Old Droog, Lansky Jones, and Remy Banks—a roster of abstract performers embellishes Wiki’s idiosyncrasies. The preternaturally breezy YL floats through the opening verse of “Ricky”; a muttering Big Ouee all but ignores Subjxct’s drum pattern on “Phone Calls.” On “Silent Meeting,” Wiki trades road stories with DJ Lucas, an erratic rapper from rural Massachusetts. Their frenetic back-and-forth is enrapturing, and it’s humbling—after all these years—to hear Wiki play the straight man.

Tri-state rap evolves in cycles of fragmentation and recombination: today, scenes coalesce around affinity as opposed to neighborhoods or traditions. Ambassador that he is, Wiki is happy to meet Papo2oo4 and Hunnaloe on their turf, nerding out over long-extinct designer brands and unsung DatPiff triumphs. More flamboyant and less technical than Wiki, these rappers have adopted his eccentricities—unpretentious nostalgia, quixotic seediness, feverish grins belying latent gloom—and pushed them in bolder, weirder directions. This is where New York’s headed; Wiki is wise to tag along.
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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 / Subjxct 5 - Cold Cuts Music Album Reviews Wiki / Subjxct 5 - Cold Cuts Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 10, 2022 Rating: 5


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