On “Islander”, Patrick “Wiki” Morales raps a Woody Allen-esque ode to New York City and the Manhattan of his upbringing. He lists the simple and the gorgeous, from bagels with lox to a Hudson River sunset. His friend, Aaron, the same one who “gave him his name,” as told at the start of verse two, asks Wiki to wonder why he’s still down despite his aforementioned joys. Wiki agrees to think harder.
“I like Sunday dinner lounging/ Posted at the crib kids clowning,” he lists, continuing to reflect. “Change for the bus scrounging/ City park kids running through the fountains/ Man I like the mountains.”
Perplexed, perhaps even concerned, Aaron interjects, “My man, ain’t no fucking mountains in Manhattan.” Aaron’s retort, No Mountains in Manhattan, serves as the title for the studio debut album of former Ratking rapper Wiki. With 16 tracks in full, No Mountains in Manhattan finds Wiki on a 56-minute lyrical odyssey without ever needing to leave the five boroughs.
The city that never sleeps lives fully through the album. “Mayor” and “Pretty Bull” ooze the essence of block party flexing, where a 40 ounce Olde English quickly turns to 120 fluid ounces of liquid courage. Ghostface Killah, a Staten Island icon, throws a co-sign to Wiki’s continuing of New York hip-hop with a feature on “Made for This.”
“I was made for this my bones is titanium,” boasts Ghostface gruffly, 24 years removed from his Wu-Tang Clan debut. “Thoughts that marinate I swear through the cranium.”
Wiki is sharpest in his handling of songs based on love, using “Pandora’s Box” to recount an ex-lover, possibly New York City-based artist Princess Nokia, and how she aided his own self discovery.
“You was my teacher/ I was your creature,” recalls Wiki. “Told me it’s more than PR/ Told me I was Boricua.”
Patrick Morales was born to an Irish mother and Puerto Rican father. In “Pandora’s Box,” Morales explains that before this certain lover, he “was a mutt” that “didn’t know” who he was, stuck in an identity crisis. Someone who is a “Boricua” is a Puerto Rican, the “PR” referred to in the lyrics. “Pandora’s Box” illustrates that discovery of self is often catalyzed through companionship at its most intimate forms.
No stranger to sex within the constraints of an overpriced New York City studio apartment, Wiki continues the love theme as he puts forth a flirtatiously gross proposal to his pet-owning lady after admiring her handywoman abilities on “Baby Girl.”
“And you good with them tools to need your help though/ Baby girl go put up that shelf slow,” requests Wiki before getting weird. “I’ll take out the cat shit after we make out.”
It’s as good as a bar as it is a Tinder bio.
Wiki’s mountains, the same that left Aaron perplexed and the rapper inspired, are revealed towards the end of “NMIM,” “You know, be driving into New York, you know from the airport, driving on the BQE, you see all the skyscrapers and you’re like, ‘fuck man, that’s my mountain range right there.'”
A plaque in Bennett Park in Manhattan reads “The highest natural point of Manhattan … 265 feet above sea level.” Standing 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center makes for a much better mountain.