When you're one of those rappers who have periodic lapses in comprehensibility, people tend to give you certain labels. South Florida's Wifisfuneral probably won't ever shake his mumble-rap reputation, even though he's long since proven himself capable of spitting with razor-sharp enunciation. It's true Wifi is willing to manipulate his voice in strange ways that many of his predecessors consider sloppy or a lower form of art. But it's no coincidence he wields his style most effectively against the members of hip-hop's old guard who are most offended by his rise to stardom.
Wifi kicks off his latest EP, Ethernet 2, with a wink at the traditionalists who dismiss him based on his stylistic divergence, despite his newfound prominence in South Florida's outside-the-box hip-hop scene. Over a deceptively lighthearted beat on album-opener "Run," he flows, "Remember way back when/Little bitch thought I was mumbling/Now they cash in."
After independently releasing his debut mixtape Black Heart Revenge in 2016, the young rapper's profile rose quickly as his gritty, highly emotive songs started drawing millions of streams on SoundCloud and he went on a national tour with XXXTentacion. He signed with Alamo Records through Interscope in 2017 and has since put out a steady stream of EPs and mixtapes.
Ethernet 2 is Wifi's second release of 2019, following the collaborative album Conn3ct3d with Robb Bank$. The seven-track project doesn't overstay its welcome, with a total run time less than 14 minutes and only one song cracking the three-minute mark. Wifi still finds time to show off several different styles, from soft and dreamlike lo-fi ("I Really Hate Pills") to awkward forays into electro-R&B crooning ("WYA pt. 2"). But he's at his best when he's blowing out speakers, like on closing track "30For30" (featuring Al Benji laying down the album's only guest verse) and EP highlight "No Trust." Wifi splits producer credits with Nvbeel on the deliciously dark beat for "No Trust," which rolls up like a menacing lowrider with blacked-out windows.
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As always, the album finds Wifi alternating between crystal-clear, spitfire bars and lackadaisical flows that sound like, well, mumbling. He clearly has the chops hip-hop purists value so much but wades through superfaded phrases as a matter of choice, switching up styles in a manner that feels like entering and leaving consciousness. Wifi also returns to familiar themes of addiction, depression, and suicide, with lines like "Living my life like what's the purpose" and "When I look in the mirror/It's like fuck I still feel worthless."
"Run away from my past/Outrace my demons," he raps on "Run." It's the first comprehensible line of the album, and it sounds like he'd really like to move on from his troubles. When it comes to his semilucid style, though, Wifi isn't giving an inch.