Wiki at The Grand Social, Dublin, on 8th March 2020
On Pesto, Wiki (real name, Patrick Morales) raps, “reviews strong, not enough views on the songs”. In the age of streaming, it becomes easier than ever to quantify ‘success’. Doing so, however, is reductive.
Setting aside practicalities surrounding carbon footprint, why promoters didn’t book the New Yorker on a Thursday (rather than an unflattering Sunday night), either side of his Brighton and London dates is anyone’s guess. Similarly, not much should be read into the poor turnout for the Dublin leg of his ‘OOFIE’ tour.
This didn’t appear to deter Morales. In fact, it seemed to energise him. The fans Wiki has amassed are acolytes in every sense of the word. The audience huddled round as if he was offering a sermon. They mouthed every word (disproving an earlier lyric and back-handed self-praise from the rapper that though listeners might not be able to understand him, they enjoy his flow), lauded his name and showered him with pints.
Immersed in all of this, you were oblivious to the wide gap behind everyone. The room’s modest yet companionable make-up upstairs in the Grand Social, with its tent and overhanging lighting, greatly complemented Wiki’s own modest stage design.
Come to be a motif throughout his solo career, a patchwork combining his joint Puerto Rican and Irish heritage draped over the DJ booth positioned in the centre of the stage. All in all, the environment transcended itself to somewhere a long time ago, far away in the Caribbean when things were simpler and sound systems frequented the streets.
His DJ matched his energy every step of the way while never overshadowing it. From the defiant call-to-arms of Downfall, to the soulful boom bap of Mayor, the show never let up. Wiki’s delivery was immediate yet was never carried out with anything less than razor-sharp precision.
It’s reasonable to say that he has always been a fairly wiry, diminutive individual, exhibiting the rough charm of a bona fide hoodrat. What separates Morales, however, is not only the profundity and introspection of what he creates, but his ability to not take himself too seriously while doing so.
This was mirrored in the way he fleeted about the stage; from a typical rapper’s fighter stance one minute to self-deprecating depictions of the art of seduction the next. His signature Upper West Side snarl formed the bedrock.
Older cuts such as the King Krule-produced Seedy Motherfucker and RATKING-era Wikispeaks were equally well-received, reflecting Wiki’s prolificity at consistently churning out tunes.
It’s difficult to single out any one highlight from the set although Pretty Bull, with its resplendent oriental sound perfectly captured the clamour and melting pot of cultures from the streets of New York that Wiki somehow manages to channel so mellifluously into his music.
Elsewhere, the 26-year-old borrowed from the Afro-British rap scene, (paying tribute to Obongjayar) on the slightly more pared back Elixir, then again on the chiming and hook-laden God Bless Me.
Fee Fi Fo Fum is another power play in his armoury. The overall feel from the night was one of affection though. Affection for the performer and affection towards his DJ and his fans.
Similar to last time out at the Workman’s Club, Wiki was happy to stay behind and chat with the crowd. There are very few as sincere, especially in the world of rap. Wikispeaks. We listen.