POW Premiere: WifiGawd — Return of Da Big Dog

Lucas Foster waxes poetic on the D.C. native's brand new tape.
By    September 9, 2019

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Lucas Foster has a Superman Punch that will knock you on your ass.

I have been raving about WifiGawd’s music to any one who will listen for more than two years. He is a singular artist, a rapper who applies the values and traditions of hip-hop’s Golden Age to making music that pushes rap into the future. Since 2016 he has remained committed to a radical project: releasing proper albums that display a single sound from an underground scene that is more tuned to disorganized and chaotic loosies. Return of Da Big Dawg is no exception.

Often his albums have projected trends months or years ahead of time, but recently he has been intrigued by the sounds and styles of the last millennium. It’s probably not what one would expect from a rapper with the name “WifiGawd,” who released full length projects with Oogie Mane, Tony Seltzer, and Hi-C recently. Yet getting to know him has taught me that his roots in rap run deeper than most. He grew up in the D.C. Rasta community, where his family raised him on Rakim, KRS-One, De La Soul, and today he prefers Kid Cudi to most of his peers’ music. 

On Return of Da Big Dawg, he has found a sound that marries the sounds of Rap’s first Golden Age with the wave of futuristic internet rap that he helped define. To make this happen he has enlisted a unique and nearly unrivaled group of producers. Underground legend Genshin, the culturally dominant Plug collective, and Virginia’s Trip Dixon all made gorgeous, melodic beats that Wifi compliments with immaculate and sparkling flows that borrow a little from Cudi, maybe a little from Max B, and maybe even Young Bleed, but are uniquely his own. Wifi’s technical mastery and beautiful rap voice makes it sound effortless, belying a work ethic and a perfectionist approach to the studio process that separates MC’s from pretenders. 

Yet the youngest producer of the bunch stole the show. Richmond, Virginia’s Gawd looks no older than 19, but his production often sounds like it’s straight from 1995. He programmed a signature, booming kick drum and slapping claps and pairs it with samples and loops that sound timeless. The beat on “Karl Kani” is out of control, an elegant and infectious string loop that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1998 Suave House posse cut. WiFi has a knack finding a producer right before they go on a crazy run, and this is probably no exception. Pitchfork’s Alphonse Pierre has been bumping Gawd the whole year, and his ability to see the culture months or years ahead of time is unparalleled by anyone besides maybe Wifi. 

At the end of a great decade for rap, during a critical transitional moment for the genre, Wifi has made progress towards making something entirely new. Street rap that belongs to the future as much as it pays homage to the past.

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