Wifisfuneral On The Lost Art Of Caring
Wifisfuneral (a.k.a. Isaih Rivera) has had a steady climb in hip-hop since 2016. One of the discerning features of a Wifisfuneral release is a sense of growth from the previous record, whether that is a personal growth or a more calculated attitude towards the songwriting. Ethernet, released in June 2018, encapsulated a moodier tone, but one rooted in a deeper self-awareness.
In this interview, Wifisfuneral talks to TIDAL about the reaction to his generation of artistry, how to do right by yourself and your fans and what it means to actually care.
Check out Wifi and more talented rappers on the come up in the TIDAL Rising: Hip-Hop playlist below the interview.
How do you feel about the reception to Ethernet?
I love the reception. I love my supporters, but I wasn’t looking for support for this, necessarily. It was more of, ‘What music do I feel comfortable making?’ I want everything to have a different feel and talk about different things. I think this project definitely sounds more mature. I think as long as I stay on the route, there’s a lot of big things to explore. I just enjoyed making this project of music.
There is a definite evolution in the sound of your projects. On Ethernet, each song in some way takes on an experimental sound or takes a chance. What outside of hip-hop inspires your music?
Mostly just lo-fi beats and instrumentals. I grew up in that era when that all started popping off. When it was the wave in the underground, I was just starting out, but that never really bled through to the mainstream. Producers don’t like to make shitty shit (laughs).
You talk about depression a lot in your music. I hear you speak about it as not something to overcome, but something to just work on.
I feel like some artists have given these kids false hope. A lot of rappers’ point of views makes them seem like they are the saviors. I am no one’s savior. I can help take the pain away for a bit, I can make you feel like someone can relate, but ultimately, you have problems you need to face. Only you, yourself and your brain can take care of that. All I can do is being an example of feeling that and working through it.
Even though you are literally on a stage elevated above people, you want to help people understand that you are both coping.
Yeah, and like, I feel some of these people are manipulating people’s emotions to profit off of that savior-type stature. Like, I pulled up with an Apple Watch, not a Rolex. I’m not here to just make money. Maybe I am not a rapper deep down inside. So many people are here to abuse the system and take and not even seek out any sort of balance of giving and taking.
Do you feel that is the biggest misconception of yourself and the people you came up with?
Absolutely, because the people I came up looking up to in the industry and admiring their path, they are horrible people. Their music is great, but they are not good individuals.
How do you plan to avoid that and stick to the music?
Just by doing things that enable people to ask uncomfortable questions and confront uncomfortable thoughts. Fuck the money, fuck all the gains from the money, I just want to help people. I genuinely want to do that, but you get looked at as a lame for caring, and then it becomes like, ‘Why am I doing this then?’
What is it about growing up in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s in Florida that influences a lot of the gritter, trap-leaning modern hip-hop sound?
I think music just got rougher. People stopped pretending. Not everything is kumbaya and holding hands. I think people start leaning on being their authentic selves and understanding there is a darkness that some people gravitate to.
As for Florida, you don’t have many resources and the education system sucks. You just are forced to learn numbers and facts. No one spreads important information, like being able to do your taxes and understanding the weight of college loans. I wish people would explain that more. I see that from all the homies that went to college. Like, people who went to Full Sail for sound engineering and didn’t take a chance to just believe in themselves and do it on their own. Just apply pressure, if that’s something you really want to do. That’s what I did with rap. There’s no pamphlet. Are you good at rapping or not? Even if you are not good at it to start, you should give yourself no other choice but to be good at it.
What are your biggest creative challenges?
Really just myself and my brain. Honestly, I’ve got nothing to complain about. My career is much better than it was 6 months ago. People counted me out and did not think I could continue growing things. I’ve grown accustomed and numb to having a negative mindset. For instance, when I was on the XXL Freshman cover, I did not know how to digest my family’s reaction of being proud and crying. I’m so used to rejecting that. I’m so used to people laughing at me.
It must also have something to do with constantly wanting to pursue something else and not being able to fully process the idea of just being happy for a second, even if you are aware it’s temporary. That has to be an active movement, to just be happy for now.
Yeah, I try to, but that shit sucks. I’m such a pessimist. I love making people feel comfortable and being lovey-dovey, all that, but I’m very guarded in some ways. I’m trying to kill that negative side. When someone congratulates me, I’m learning to just take that. I looked at people that I didn’t know coming up congratulating me as like –
Like, “What’s your backstory? What’s your agenda?”
Yeah, exactly. That’s just how the industry is. That’s why it’s so hard to just take compliments on the surface.
It’s refreshing to see within hip-hop that a dialogue is being had more surrounding mental health as our country develops some sort of tactics to address that same issue that plagues a lot of its citizens. I think the important thing is to not glorify the depressive thoughts and the depth of them.
Nah, exactly. It should just be a coping mechanism, nothing more, nothing less. I am not trying to inspire to do any of the stupid shit I’ve done in my life. I am hoping you are hearing it as me dictating what I’ve been through and you absorbing that as just a fact and a lesson. I’ve battled with myself, but I don’t you to feel you have to cope the way I’ve coped. I’ve had toxic influences in my life, but I am talking about toxic influences as a warning and something for you to be aware that you may have to avoid.
I think of the kids in third world countries who don’t have half the problems we do, who can’t appreciate what we go through.
You spent your first few years in the Bronx. Do you remember that at all?
I remember my time there being very family-centered. I remember walking down the strip with my family, going to the toy store with my grandfather, getting groceries from the bodega for my grandmother. A lot of good memories.
Palm Beach made me a man, though. New York is a jungle, but it’s a culture shock there in Florida.
What was the beat selection process for Ethernet like? Are there any producers you specifically are messing with?
I’m the kind of person that, if I don’t hear myself rapping on it immediately, I usually don’t go for it. I’m not really fucking with any producers like that. There are so many politics involved that you can’t even appreciate someone’s craft anymore.
Is turning the corner on that kind of thinking a solo or group effort?
That’s a group effort, not something I have to lead, but it’ll take a group of individuals doing what they can to stay true to themselves and having an honest relationship with their fans. We can sit here and drop gems, quotables, for days, but If I’m only one that feels that way, then nothing will happen.
Music will get better when the consumer says, ‘I’m done with listening to fast food music. I’m done with this McDonald’s.’
How does it feel now that a majority of the people you came up with have landed in places in the public eye and are focused on growth and moving with momentum? Does any of it not feel like you and everyone else thought it might feel like?
It’s great, it’s definitely great. People have this thing in life, though, where in order to thrive, they have to eliminate everyone and everything from their life. When you do that, you fall onto this double edge sword of eliminating good people. You don’t need to get that drastic. You just need to think and observe your surroundings. That problem only exists within yourself.
Do you think we are moving towards a place where these friendships can be nurtured in a positive manner online?
Definitely. When everyone stops playing the big dick contest. Pouya and $UICIDEBOY$ met on a live No Jumper episode, and then they did all that work together. People’s favorite thing to do is playing victim. No one likes to hear they fucked up.
Something we keep going back to is just showing that you care. How do you feel that works these days?
It just becomes difficult when every person approaches music like they are an A&R. I love Cole Bennett to death, but people say it like, ‘You have to do a Cole Bennett video to blow up.’ Cole is definitely providing for a lot of people, but that never occurred to me when I was listening to Lil Wayne, that he had to make a video with Hype Williams. Wayne just dropped music.
What part of your music do you spend the most time on?
Definitely the lyrics. I’ll spend four or five hours on a song or verse. People tell me I’m ahead of my time, and I have no idea what that means. It’s not the words you use, it’s your message that really matters and that message has been there the whole time. I just want to help people, man.
I think the real marker of evolution and success in your career will be when people are not surprised anymore that you are just making music you care about.
I mean people did not really respect [Kid] Cudi as much as they should have, even to this day. From ‘08 to now, he’s been talking about mental illness very seriously. What’s fucked up is that it takes these horrible events for mental illness to be seen as a political issue. People have been screaming about it for a long time.
As we wrap up, another aspect of just caring that you led bleed through into your career is you noting what releases are considered a mixtape and what you want to call your debut album.
Yeah, I want to feel comfortable with calling it a debut album. Regardless of anything I put out after, you’re going to judge me off of that album. Mixtape people understand, ‘Oh, a lot of it was fire, but some things I didn’t feel. It felt it he wasn’t trying his best because it’s a mixtape.’ I feel comfortable with Ethernet, but we all came to an agreement that it wasn’t the right time. I have two names for the debut album, and if I choose one over the other, that will fuel how I approach that record.
As big or small as you want to take this, what is next for you?
I just take things day by day, but I like planning. You have to find a way to express yourself. If I’m complaining about anything, I think I am talking about real shit. I feel like we all have to focus on communication and how we explain things. It took me a minute to realize people are listening to us and really hearing what we are saying, so I consider that.
TIDAL is proud to announce the world's first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly curated Editorial.