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Wiki and Sage Elsesser discuss NY hip-hop and measuring success in music – i-D

Summary

It must be tough to be a local hero. Balancing the demands of fame, validation, community and internal drive. That unlikely combination of high-flown ambition and ground level humility. No rapper embodies this kind of local heroism like Wiki (born Patrick Morales), New York City’s native son, whose lauded lyrical diffractions have earned him international recognition and local fame. While some rappers marshal their NYC credentials like rap sheets, Wiki’s documentary gaze spins narrative w…….

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It must be tough to be a local hero. Balancing the demands of fame, validation, community and internal drive. That unlikely combination of high-flown ambition and ground level humility. No rapper embodies this kind of local heroism like Wiki (born Patrick Morales), New York City’s native son, whose lauded lyrical diffractions have earned him international recognition and local fame. While some rappers marshal their NYC credentials like rap sheets, Wiki’s documentary gaze spins narrative webs that transform Manhattan into a lyrical playground, a layered topography full of personal history, buried strata unearthed by rhymes. (“To continue to tell / bad or good / everything I been through / so you don’t have to / go through the same mistakes that Wik do.”)

Wiki’s third album, Half God (released October 1), is an inner-exploration of the Manhattan-born rapper’s psyche. The record is produced entirely by Sage Elsesser (a.k.a Navy Blue), a creative polymath — model, skater, artist, producer, rapper and i-D cover star — who’s collaborated with Earl Sweatshirt and Mike, among others. In 2020, he told us: “I have been saddened by this reality, this generational pain, since I was a little boy. I am grateful to have been taught about the struggles we faced as Black people, by my dear grandparents.” It is that awareness of history and reservoir of personal, familial creativity that Sage taps into to create stirring lo-fi beats, constantly referencing and sampling soulful pioneers like Calvin Keys Jr. and Johnnie Wilder to draw a throughline between history and future.

We met up with Wiki and Sage on an unusually warm fall day in Lower Manhattan, where they discussed freestyling, skating, Supreme, fame, freedom and their upcoming tour.

It’s cool to see you guys making an album together. It feels like New York hip-hop is becoming communitarian again, as it was in the 90s.
Wiki: It’s the spirit of it, more than the music. It’s a 90s revival. Like you said, communal. 

How did you and Sage link up?
Wiki: We’ve known each other for a minute. We met mad long ago. Maybe nine or 10 years ago. We’ve known each other from being around. Being in the city. It’s all in due time, you know?

Sage, when did you start producing music?
Sage: Really young, I must’ve been 10 or something and my dad bought me a drum machine for Christmas. I would take it in my backpack to school. My dad is a musician. I remember him showing me a J Dilla song and I was like, ‘Oh, man. This is the best thing I have ever heard’. He just showed me the formula. The first song my dad and I ever made, we sampled [Nina Simone’s] “Four Women”. I just loved making beats. It was the first time I felt in control, like skating. I grew …….

Source: https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/5dg3v3/wiki-sage-elsesser-half-god-interview