Wifisfuneral Looks to Put His Stamp on the Game: “I’m the Voice for the Voiceless”
The term "SoundCloud rapper" has become a familiar one in recent years and synonymous with the burgeoning youth movement that has taken hip-hop by storm. Coined in reference to aspiring rappers who primarily use the popular streaming platform SoundCloud as an avenue to release their music and a tool to build their fan base, the description is a sign of independence for many artists on the rise. While more than a few current hot prospects and rising stars may fit the bill, one artist that has become one of the biggest success stories by using SoundCloud to gain a fan base is Wifisfuneral, who has amassed millions of plays on the streaming service and become one of the most buzzworthy acts of 2017. But don't call him a SoundCloud rapper; he's on a new wave.
Although Wifisfuneral, born Isaih Rivera, was raised by his mother, his career path is indicative of his pedigree, as his father was also an aspiring MC as part of the rap group IC Square. As a result, Wifisfuneral took to the genre at an early age, writing his first rhyme at age 6 and recording his first song at 13. With an interest in rap taking over, the Bronx-born, West Palm Beach, Fla.-raised rhymer's musical aspirations would prove to be a distraction to his scholastic prospects, resulting in him dropping out of high school as a sophomore and being kicked out of the house. He continued to rap and record under various monikers before settling on the name Wifisfuneral, and caught his first big break after receiving a co-sign on the part of former Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, who tapped the rapper as the opening act at the Florida stops on his 2015 tour with Remy Banks.
The following year, in 2016, Wifisfuneral unleashed his breakout mixtape, Black Heart Revenge, which further helped familiarize him with the rap populus. He capitalized on the moment with his follow-up mixtape, When Hell Falls, a project which piqued the interest of music industry veteran Todd Moscowitz. The label head signed the South Florida rapper to his imprint, Alamo Records, a deal that was announced during SXSW this year. While 2017 has certainly been full of highlights for Wifi, there have also been some low lights in the recent months, most notably when he was jumped after taking a dive into the crowd during a performance at the Houston stop of 2017 XXL Freshman XXXTentacion's Revenge Tour, of which Wifisfuneral was an opening act.
Looking to put the incident behind him, Wifisfuneral has put the focus back on his music with his new project, Boy Who Cried Wolf, which arrived with some controversy of its own after the 20-year-old rapper decided to leak the whole mixtape against his label's wishes. Drama aside, Boy Who Cried Wolf has been touted as Wifisfuneral's best project to date and another reason to keep a close eye on what appears to be one of the next artists to blow out of South Florida.
Wifisfuneral sat down with XXL to talk Boy Who Cried Wolf, the future of SoundCloud, his beef with Joe Budden, working with Ugly God, his relationship with XXXTentacion, his desire to create his own sub-genre and much more.
XXL: You recently dropped your Boy Who Cried Wolf mixtape? How would you describe the fans reception of it thus far?
People been telling me that it's like my best tape thus far, which I appreciate because we put a lot of hard work into it. So the reception's been good, you know what I mean? There's always gonna be a few haters here and there ’cause that's life, but the reception for the most part from my fans has been real good, they've been really fucking with it. My whole goal is to make an actual sound that is just completely original and I feel that's what me and my producer did throughout the whole tape, which is do exactly that.
How would you describe that sound in words?
It's just a lot of heavy-hitting...it's got some ish, like, Lo-fi sounds, but like we ain't really on the Lo-fi shit like that. It's like second nature, honestly, it's just like... the best way to describe it in words I can say is just comfortability. You just feel mad comfortable when you listen to the beat and you listen to the lyrics on the beat, it just sounds like it's supposed to be there.
What spurred you to choose that as the title?
I used to lie to my mom a lot so she kind of called me, like, a boy who cried wolf. And, like, music, I used to never take shit serious, from like Black Heart Revenge to Hell Falls, this is the first project that I actually took serious. So I felt like my fans didn't think I would finally come through with a project where I'm trying to go off, like first to finish. And it was more in a sense of I would always say that it's coming and always do this tape effortless and they would know, "Alright, he snapped, but it's not what we're expecting it to be," but I feel like I met all my fans' expectations with this tape.
You have a song on the album called "JoeBuddenProbablyThinksICantRap," which is a title that was sure to spark intrigue. What inspired you to make that track?
I just feel like Joe Budden, as a whole, like, it's no disrespect to his achievements that he's gotten in his career, you feel me, great lyricist, great rapper, I'll give him that all day, but I feel like he's the human form of what rap is trying to kill, you know what I mean, which is people with an old mindset that aren't giving any of these kids a chance and repeating the cycle and just judging kids off of their names or off of what they do, or how they carry themselves and this and that, but not giving the time to actually listen to the music and listen to how different the music is.
We're in a different generation, we're in a different age. It's not 2003, it's not 19-something you know what I mean. We're in 2017, we're in a new era of music and a new era of music doesn't always have to be lyrics or this or that or what we go by as good, organic, hip-hop, you know what I mean? Like really good hip-hop.
And it's bigger than hip-hop now. It's sub-genres, there's not just hip-hop, rap and he's the person that identifies, "No, it's just hip-hop and rap." Nah, it's bigger than that. It's exactly like how rock and roll was like in the ’80s when they were going from rock and roll to grunge to punk rock into this into that and even to the early 2000s, it was going soft-rock, emo-rock. So I think that's what's happening with a new generation now and I feel like he is the type of person that is really trying to put that nail in the coffin, like, "Nah, this is what we need to be doing with hip-hop."
So when he came at me for whatever reason or I heard they played the video [of me being jumped] on Everyday Struggle and he was joking on it for whatever reason, I know how he's looking at it. He's probably like, "Look at this dumbass nigga that just jumped in the crowd with a name like Wifisfuneral at an XXX[Tentacion] concert or whatever." I don't know if he has bad opinions on X, but I know he like X's attitude, but I never heard him say if he likes X's music at all, so he's already judging us because we're doing something new, something that's not general hip-hop, you know what I mean?
By him making all of those remarks or whatever it was that he did, I just took it like, don't get it fucked up, bruh, don't sit here and think I'm one of these new wave rappers that don't give a fuck about what you gotta say or am just gonna be like, "Nigga, you're old, I don't give a fuck." Nah, bruh. I grew up on this shit, I grew up knowing how to rock, I was taught how to write bars at 8 years old, I grew up on traditional hip-hop.
So that's why I made that song "JoeBuddenProbablyThinksICantRap," like at all, ’cause you must be under the impression ’cause of my name I can't get on a microphone. Nah, don't get it fucked up. That's really all it was.
One of the songs fans were looking forward to was "Wrist Motion," which got pulled down from SoundCloud initially. What was the issue behind that?
It was just, like, a lot of problems with my label. It was a lot of big miscommunication at the time. I was under the impression I could release the single, because the single had been already online and promoted for like five months, just do a video. And, like everybody wanted it and I had been holding the record for like five months. I might as well drop it or whatever and they were like, "We're already getting it released through all bigger things come a certain day," and I was like "Alright, I feel you on that, but I haven't really released anything new." I just been chilling so I was like I gotta release some shit.
I didn't wanna release nothing that wasn't 100 percent my best work and I knew "Wrist Motion" was a banger so let's just drop the shit and they told me I could drop it, but little did I know they submitted it already to SoundCloud, so it was like a copyright infringement shit, so that shit got me pissed.
So you basically infringed on your own song?
Yeah, I felt like a complete dumbasss, I was like, what the fuck, bruh? It was just a lot of other shit that just was adding on to it. That was just the icing on the cake honestly, and that just made me leak the tape, I was like, fuck this shit. Here, have it all.
You recently collaborated with Ugly God on the remix to your song "Wya?". How did that come about?
Well, I've known Ugly God for like a year now. That's my dawg, like, we've always just kicked it with each other whenever and just always had that mutual respect for each other as artists. And he came to me and told me that he wanted to get on the record. I wasn't even thinking about putting him on it at all. It was just more on some shit where he DM'ed me one day like, "You got the beat for 'Wya?' ’cause I'm trying to hop on it." I had already released it, it was already at a mil [plays] at the time. I had like the rest of the beat and the rest of the session open with the hook already on it so I was like, "Yo, I got that file already so it's like you can literally just add whatever you need to add."
He did that and I told him, "Yo, I really fuck with it ’cause I feel a lot of the shit that you're doing right now a lot of people don't think that you can actually rap. Niggas not taking you serious," and I think he showed he can dibble and dabble and he's very versatile in any form or way with that record because you don't expect Ugly God to be talking about feelings or emotions or none of that shit so I thought that shit was just different. And it's good. That's what hip-hop needs, a lot of different shit, shit you don't expect. It's too much of a cycle or a pattern too much.
On that particular song, Ugly God took more of a serious approach in comparison to other songs. Was that organic or did you play a part in him taking that direction?
Well, it was mainly him. I told him what the subject matter was about. I mean, it's quite through the song, so I feel he added his own blend into it, but for the most part, he was on point. I didn't really have to tell him, "Oh, this sounded messed up or I think you should do this or I think you should do that." At first, I thought he could've did the whole verse with more enthusiasm, I told him that, but then listening to it, I was, "Nah, this sounds just like you." It was perfect.
Is there an artist you were surprised by that let you know they were a fan of your music?
I was shocked when I found out that Taco from Odd Future was really fucking with my music ’cause I was such a big Odd Future fan, like I just grew up listening to them. I was mad shocked when Earl started fucking with, he told me he fucked with my music. I was definitely very shocked when I met [Hot 97 radio personality] Peter Rosenberg and he told me that he really liked my music ’cause I guess his brother introduced him to my music and he was really fucking with it and that was like a big "Oh shit" ’cause it's Peter Rosenberg, Hot 97, that's legendary.
Dr. Miami fucks with my music. Dr. Miami bumped "Wrist Motion" for like two days straight. Who else? When I met [Action] Bronson, he told me he was listening to my music. For the most part, people probably don't listen to it hardbody, but like they've heard a couple of songs enough to the point they're like, "Yo, I hear your shit."
Like they're not die-hard, but at least they're rocking with you.
Like you can tell they genuinely at least heard a song and was like, "Bet, I fuck with it."
How do you like your current label situation at Alamo Records?
You know, for the most part, I feel like the situation and the conflict between me and my label is resolved. There's more of an understanding and our communication is way better so it's just more about us just executing and getting what we need to get done ’cause it's not like they can't do it, you know what I mean? I know they can do it, the same way how I know I can do it. So it's just more of putting water under a bridge and moving to what Wifisfuneral as a whole should do. That's what everybody's focused on, what Wifisfuneral should do.
What did you learn about yourself going on the Revenge Tour with XXXTentacion?
I noticed my worth, honestly. Like, to the tee. And I thought that I did early on in my career, but on the Revenge Tour, I really noticed my worth. I really noticed how much I could offer to the music industry if people was to really give me the chance that I feel that I deserved. And for the most part, that's what was like the most really important part about that tour and one thing I don't regret ’bout that tour is I realized my self-worth as a human being and as a artist. And that helped me make the tape way better and just helped me make way better decisions for my career and my life.
You came out of that with a head injury. Does that make you think twice about jumping into crowds now?
Nah, not at all. It don't make me, like regret it or think twice about it at all because that's what I do, you feel me? I've been doing that at shows for like the past three years now. For anybody that's been a fan of Wifisfuneral, like before I got signed, before the Revenge Tour, like before anything, everybody knows I was always jumping in the crowd. It was never to, like get people mad or piss people off or kick ’em in the face, none of that shit.
It was to just give people an experience because I feel like when people go to shows, you ain't pay this money to stand and look at me and not move. Get the fuck outta here! You gonna enjoy this shit. I'ma make you remember why you did this, you know what I mean? And what people gotta understand is that whole Houston situation, that shit is way deeper than people think that it really is, you know what I mean? People only know what they see off a video because that's the only information that they know and that's the only information that people need to know, but that shit's way deeper than me just diving into a crowd, you feel me?
So I'm not gonna let something that really had nothing to do with me at all affect what the fuck I'm gonna do in my career or what the fuck I'm gonna do for my fans because when I do the Boy Who Cried Wolf Tour, I am stage-diving. Like when I do whatever tour whenever, I am stage-diving. And if I'm not stage-diving, I'm in the center of that crowd and I'm jumpin' in that bitch, like deadass.
Speaking of XXXTentacion, you're rumored to have some collaborations with him coming soon. What are the details on that?
None at all.
So that rumor's false?
Yeah, that's false. I have no songs coming with him at all. Me and him haven't made anything at all, honestly.
Is it an amicable situation between you and XXXTentacion?
I just feel like we're all individual artists and, you know, people part their ways and live a life of their own because sometimes you gotta live a part of your life without people in it. And I feel like we're all at that stage where we're all just doing us right now, trying to figure each other out and then if whatever happens [down the line]-type shit.
Do you see yourself doing any other collaborative projects down the line?
Nah, I'm definitely interested in doing that, just due to the simple fact I don't wanna drop the debut album anytime soon. So I'm definitely interested in hella mixtapes. Like me and my producer, Chris Dinero, we gonna have a collab mixtape in the works. My record label, Rich Life, we're doing a compilation tape. I've been really, for like the longest, trying to do a collab tape with the $uicideboy$, I wanna do a collab tape with them so bad. Those are like the only artists that I'm die-hard trying to, like "let's do this, let's get this done," because that tape would sound crazy.
What about the $uicideboy$ makes you wanna work with them?
I love them. I love them. I love the way they rap, I love their bars, I love them as people, how they are as people. When I'm with them, it's cool, you know what I mean, it makes complete sense. In my head, it makes sense to do it because I feel like not only just our fans would enjoy it, but us as artists, we would enjoy it too because I feel like we would really, like, not make a new wave, but we would really raise hell, honestly, and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm really trying to just make my stamp in this game and show why I'm here.
A few months ago, you posted a video of yourself on Instagram putting lean on some bacon. Did you get any backlash for it? Do you not care about the criticism?
Yeah, I got backlash for it all the time because I was going through a bad drug problem in general so like if it wasn't just backlash off of that, it was people that cared about me. Backlash from my fans or people who don't know me at all and just had a reason to finally talk shit about me on the internet, that's really all it was. Did I care about it at the time? No, because I'm the type of person that is like, if I wanna do that, fuck y'all, I'ma do it. Why you worried about it?
But I ain't even on that drug shit no more, honestly, so that shit is like comedy to me. I don't look back on it like, that's wack, I don't know why I did that, like that shit was funny as fuck, for real [laughs]. That shit's funny as hell.
How much do you feel like you stand as a role model to your fans?
I feel like I'm a huge role model to my fans because I talk about subject matters and things in my songs that a lot of artists don't feel comfortable talking about or don't think is normal to talk about in hip-hop or rap that touches kids a certain way or makes kids not feel alone or feel like they finally have someone to speak for them because they don't know how to speak about it themselves.
I feel like sometimes I'm like a voice to the voiceless for those who genuinely don't have the balls or the pride or the heart to talk about said situations or said subject matters so I feel like I play a huge role model-like role to my fans and I don't mind doing that at all. I know I got my flaws as a human being, that's why I'm not scared to admit it. I'm not scared to show it and I'm not scared to talk about it because I want you to know that exactly what you're going through, like yeah, I was just going through that shit yesterday.
It's like if you're doing your thing as an artist and can overcome it...
Yeah, it's like if I can do this, do that, overdose three times and bounce back and be here, like, who the fuck can't do something?
The South Florida scene has been booming as of late and you seem to be one of the next artists primed to blow out of the area. How does it feel to be a part of this renaissance of sorts?
Well, the fact that people are even seeing me as that, like, I appreciate that more than anything because I felt like for the longest time, my talent wasn't even being noticed in Florida at all. I always felt like I was a Waldo in Florida, like I was just that person like I'm from here, but why are you from here, you know what I mean? So for the most part that people are even viewing me like that or even seeing me like that, I appreciate but my mindset and goals are way bigger than just putting on for Florida. I'm always gonna put on for Florida because that's where I'm from, but my goals are bigger than that, like, I got a mission that I'm really trying to get to.
Who would you say is an artist outside of your particular camp from back home that you admire and why?
Big Baby Scumbag. Like, I've been a fan of him for the longest. I've always fucked with him. And I feel like Tampa needed way more love because Tampa don't get enough love at all. I was thinking about it, I was like out of any artist, bruh, Big Baby really deserve that shit. He work hard and he really be dropping hits, but nobody really pay attention to ’em like that, so him, most definitely.
Are there any producers you're looking to work with in the future that you haven't?
I'm really open to working with a lot of producers and I'm open to working with a lot of sounds. But for the most part, I really wanna keep it in-house due to the simple fact I really just wanna keep this sound with Chris [Dinero] going because it's a real natural sound and it's a sound we both created. Me with the vocals and him with the beats, it makes so much sense and I really wanna evolve from that like I wanna be the originator of whatever sub-genre it is. I don't really wanna follow the [imitates "Ay, yeah" flow]. Fuck that shit.
Besides the artists on your last tape, who are some of the artists that you've been with in the studio as of late or you've been hanging with, on any level?
Oh, yeah, I was just with SahBabii. I was with SahBabiii backstage, he brought me backstage to his show. I really fuck with SahBabii. We've been talking about getting some shit in and what not. I just ran into Remy Banks at Fools Gold. I met up with A-Trak, Action Bronson as well, Trippie Redd. It's a lot of people, it's mad people, honestly, but I've never looked at it as like how you explained the question ’cause I'm such a loner when it comes to making music. And I'm just comfortable with it just being myself because I like just busting my ass to get into whatever position I need to get to just by myself.
What's the best piece of advice you've gotten since signing your record deal?
The best advice I got was probably from my manager. He was like, "Yo, just ’cause of whatever situations or however you feel about whatever, anything in general, that don't mean that we stop doing what we were doing from the jump. We do what we were doing from the jump, like 10 times. Even if you feel like certain things are a little off or things just aren't the same or whatever the situation is, don't give up the dream and the ambition that you have." Because there was a period of time where I was saying I'ma probably stop this shit and he just, like, picked me up, so that was probably the best advice I ever got.
When was that period when you were thinking about quitting music?
Probably after I released When Hell Falls. I was thinking about just not making music anymore because it just wasn't going the way I felt it should've been going.
In what ways has your lifestyle changed since then?
A lot less people in my life now. I noticed once before I came with the deal, I probably would've came to the office with eight different niggas. Now it's just, like, my manager, my A&R, my producer and my DJ, real shit.
There's been a lot of talk around the future of SoundCloud and if it will be sustainable for years to come. What are your thoughts on the matter?
I feel like it will be here. It's too much of a popular platform at this point, just in general. Compared to like... it's probably not dominating like as much as Apple Music and Spotify and like TIDAL are, but just being that go-to platform to just release it and you know people are gonna hear it, like, they don't have to buy a subscription or none of that. It's gonna be here for a while just due to the simple fact like you're just learning about a new generation of music, not even just people from Florida, but people from all over the world, honestly.
SoundCloud played a big part in getting your music out to a broad audience. Would you say you're as emotionally invested as other artists and in what ways has it affected your career and approach?
I'm not that, like, 100 percent devoted, just ’cause I believe in other platforms as well and I believe in other things that are trying to attack music in a different manner. I feel like people should just continue to evolve with shit like that. Like, of course, still use SoundCloud, just don't throw it under the dirt, but reach for more than SoundCloud, be bigger than SoundCloud, think bigger than SoundCloud ’cause there was a period of time where we would all be like, "If it's not on SoundCloud, there's no point in releasing it." There's so much more to it, when you really want the whole world to see it, not everyone gets lucky by just releasing it on SoundCloud.
There was a time on Instagram you'd write notes all over Kehlani's photos. Is that your girl crush?
Nah, that's the homie. All that shit was just, like, a joke honestly, it was a little publicity stunt. It was never really nothing like that, trust me, because people really be asking me shit like that, but it was one big ass troll because I know me and her looked alike, deadass [laughs]. People really think that I was trying to go hard and I was doing this, but I was really thinking this shit is funny and how long could I run with that shit and it went pretty fucking far [laughs].
What's your current Wi-Fi name and what's the first one you ever had or used, if you can remember?
Honestly, I don't even know, I don't even pay attention to shit like that. And all my other Wi-Fi names was like my dad's name, like Rico179 or some crazy shit [laughs]. Password like my sister's name and like her birthday and shit.
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