Wiki (two men standing on a rooftop) in a fishbowl style photo)
Wiki Credit: Jacob Consenstein

New York is an ever-present character on Wiki’s latest full-length, Half God. The rapper’s third studio album offers rich vignettes from his life set against the backdrop of his hometown and its narrative: snapshots of the nascent stages of a new romance, scenes from his Lower East Side neighborhood, observations of the gentrifiers who threaten the city’s grit and charm.

On his previous albums—2017’s No Mountains in Manhattan, 2019’s Oofie, and his 2014 project with the now-defunct trio Ratking, So It Goes—Wiki often set his raps in sparse, abstract production. But on Half God, his slick voice and typical stream-of-consciousness flow are ferried by the warm, mellow beats of producer and MC Navy Blue. Wiki questions the actions of New York’s interlopers and makes it clear that to him community is paramount: “What I can’t understand and get through to me is / After all the schooling you did, don’t know what community is?” he raps on “The Business,” over Navy Blue’s buzzing keys and heady loops. Another thing that sets Half God apart from its predecessors is the theme of time. Pandemic lockdown allowed Wiki the chance to catch his breath and focus as he saw his city literally come to a standstill. “I’m writing and I’m pacing / Looking at the cityscape / Is it a simulation? / In the middle of the city in isolation,” he raps on “Roof.” Later in the song he proclaims, “Living in the Big Apple, isn’t it amazing?” amid serene piano and humming strings that combine in something like a lullaby. Together, Wiki and Navy Blue create hypnotic raps and production whose incisive portrayal of New York feels like it can transport you there.

Wiki x Navy Blue, Semiratruth, Sat 12/11, 9 PM, Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont, $20, $18 in advance, 21+