It’s almost too easy to pigeonhole Floridian rapper Wifisfuneral when you see him. From his name to his look, the Palm Beach-bred rapper born Isaiah Rivera in the Bronx, New York has got “Soundcloud rapper” written all over him — among other things. Yes, there’s a face tattoo and yes, he’s got that devil-may-care air about him that marks some of today’s hottest up-and-comers from both his state of origin and his chosen streaming platform. However, despite the provenance of his fiercely passionate and deeply personal rhymes, he still rankles at the term “Soundcloud rapper.”
Look past the ink and his gamertag-esque nom de plume, though, and you’ll find that there’s more to Wifi than meets the eye. Like many of his peers from Lil Xan to Playboi Carti, Wifi’s rap knowledge actually runs deeper than you’d expect. He cites The Notorious B.I.G. and Big L as his influences and is quick to explain that his attraction to rap music is basically hereditary. His father was a battle rapper in the Bronx and his rap career started when he encountered Biggie’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” video at just nine years old, impressing him and informing his young dreams. From then on, he says, he was destined for rap stardom, dropping out of high school to record and pursue his goal with rapid-fire raps independently released to — where else — Soundcloud.
Unfortunately, the young rapper — he turned 21 this past March — almost had his career, and his life, derailed before it even got started. During the recording for his first mixtape, Black Heart Revenge, Wifi accidentally overdosed on cocaine and Adderall. After working to get clean, he followed up with two more digital-only albums, When Hell Falls and Boy Who Cried Wolf, garnering the attention of Interscope Records along the way.
Now, with his latest tape, Ethernet out via Alamo Records and Interscope after delays caused by sample clearance issues, and featuring appearances from fellow Soundcloud-kids-turned-serious-artists Lil Skies and YBN Nahmir, Wifisfuneral is ready to make his unusual name, which is a reference to his DJ’s best friend who committed suicide, a household one. He sat down with us on his bus (along with special guest Lil Xan) during his Orange County stop on tour with Pouya at The Observatory in Santa Ana to talk about the generation gap in hip-hop, his goals for the future, why he so staunchly refuses to call Ethernet an album (instead preferring “mixtape”), and why first impressions matter so much in rap.
What can we expect from Ethernet?
It’s really not an album, it’s a mixtape, to be real with you.
Do you still make that distinction?
Yeah, a debut album is like your first impression. When you think about Nas, you think about Illmatic, you don’t think about Stillmatic, you don’t think about It Was Written. That’s why I haven’t dropped a debut album yet because I feel I’m just not at that level right now, where I’m comfortable enough to be like, ‘Alright, this is my debut album, I’m ready for people to judge me off this album.’