Wiki Half God Review


October 06, 2021

Associate Staff Writer, News

Produced entirely by Navy Blue, the New York rapper’s latest is one of his greatest. A wise and angry Wiki reveals what it’s like to come of age in the city: the way it shapes, hardens, prematurely ages you.

Kids grow up fast in New York City. Pre-teens ride the trains alone, shuttling between school and the park and home. You learn to spot scammers, junkies, tourists, and cops from a mile away. From the time you learn to speak, you’re exposed to languages from around the world. The streets are more than just a thoroughfare for cars and trucks, they’re a fire hydrant water park, a street cart restaurant, a living room for old men playing dominoes, a nightclub with perreo, nutcrackers, and no cover. A New Yorker can live several lifetimes before they ever turn 18.

Few rappers reflect this spirit quite like Patrick Morales, the 27-year-old Irish and Puerto Rican MC better known as Wiki. His latest album, Half God, is a record about what it’s like to come of age in New York: the way it shapes, hardens, prematurely ages you. Produced in its entirety by Navy Blue—the skateboarder/model turned prolific producer/MC born Sage Elsesser—the record captures the varied tempos of city life in colorful vignettes. A warbling guitar loop soundtracks a contemplative smoke session on “Roof”; the stuttering soul samples on “Can’t Do This Alone” stroll with Wiki and Navy Blue through city streets; hi-hats crunch and snares snap on “The Business,” as Wiki spews vitriol at the gentrifiers changing his home into something unrecognizable.

Gentrification looms like a specter over the entire album. Born on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and living on the Lower East Side, Wiki has watched the city’s grit be slowly washed away, its quirky characters and storefronts pushed out in favor of chain stores and bottomless mimosas. Near his downtown apartment, where Chinatown and the LES meet, abuelitas push grocery carts past old Chinese men smoking cigarettes on stoops, and young Asian kids walk to school to the tune of car stereos blasting Latin music. But interlopers threaten the vibe, and Wiki’s anger permeates much of Half God. Everyone understands New York attracts people from everywhere; Wiki just can’t understand why the most privileged of them are so selfish. On “New Truths,” he rails against college kids unable to empathize with the less fortunate. On “The Business,” he chastises NIMBY transplants: “What I can’t understand and get through to me is/After all the schooling you did, don’t know what community is?”

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