New York emcees Wiki and Your Old Droog link up on their new five-track EP What Happened to Fire. This EP is the essence of the blunt New York sound.
The chemistry between these two rappers as they trade bars and verses is undeniable: half the fun of the project is waiting to see where Droog will take the track once Wiki is done with it and vice-versa. This is the revivalist hip-hop collab we all needed during the cold East Coast winter. The project is available for free download off http://letterracer.com/ so stop sleeping and throw this cold-blooded EP into your winter rotation.
Wiki’s bars on the intro track are just filthy and set the stage for the rest of the EP: “Me and Droog, you can’t see us/ You can’t read us/ You believe us.” Once Droog steps to the mic, it becomes obvious that these two emcees were destined to trade verses. The chemistry and dark energy created between Droog and Wiki is piercing. The muddy feedback in the back of the mix only emphasizes how cruel and dirty this EP will be.
The bass on “What Happened to Fire” adds a warm pop and crackle to the chilly bars Droog spits. This track showcases the attention to detail on the production, with the dusty cymbal filling the spaces between Droog’s lines and a fuzzy break amplifying his focused flow. Just when you think the cut can’t get any better, Wiki jumps in along with a rich leading horn. The slight beat switch and slight treble in Wiki’s voice work to keep the track fresh. Other standout beats include the ominous string arrangement on “Vigilantes.”
“Vigilantes” is the shining star of the project. At four straight minutes of top-notch rapping, this cut is the pinnacle of the rappers’ chemistry and features the most wintry beat. The storytelling on this cut is excellent; the track feels like a scene out of a noir film. With Droog and Wiki trading verses to set the scene, “Vigilantes” becomes a dynamic and cinematic experience. The atmosphere of the song is accented further when Wiki plays with the pitch and emotion in his delivery. By the end of the cut, the rappers are trading words within the same bar. This track is a certified head-nodding, good ‘ol hip-hop song.
For everything this EP gets right, there is a red mark on the project. “Parlay” feels like an out of place and forced ‘party’ track. Something on this track feels off, whether it’s Droog’s crooning on the hook or the stuttering electronics on the beat, this cut feels a little phoned in. Thankfully, more than Droog, Wiki sounds natural over the beat, so it’s not the most jarring experience. That being said, the overall rapping on this track is still solid and certainly keeps it from entirely dragging down the EP.
Without question, Wiki and Your Old Droog bring the bars and set a strong atmosphere with this project. With the exception of “Parlay,” the EP is gripping and cohesive — cohesive without sounding stale — and a great teaser for Droog’s upcoming album. What Happened to Fire will be a sure contender for top EP of the year, so it’s best to stop sleeping now and wise up on this project.