WifisFuneral: “I Didn’t Want To Keep Turning Up No More”
An interview with the Palm Beach rapper born eleven days after Biggie passed.
Isaiah Rivera, better known to rap lovers as WifisFuneral, turns 20 today. Which is cause for celebration because for a while there it looked like the Palm Beach rapper might not make it out of his teens, due to some close calls with drugs. As he revealed on his remarkable Open Space interview with Mass Appeal, ”I went to the emergency like four times in like a year.”
But soon thereafter Wifi locked in on music, releasing his When Hell Falls project in late January to great acclaim. The latest release on his SoundCloud, “wya” racked up a million plays in 17 days.
But please don’t call him a “SoundCloud rapper.” Wifi finds the term disrespectful. “How the fuck you gon’ put me in this fuckin’ category?” Wifi asks.
The artists who inspired him to rap include MF Doom, Lil Wayne, and Eminem. He says his next project will be called 27 Club. “I’ve been contemplating this project for like two years,” he says. “Being big enough as if I died at 27. As big as Jimi Hendrix, as big as Kurt Cobain.”
Today in honor of his birthday, we present our full WifisFuneral interview, raw and uncut. Many (more than seven) happy returns!
So you said in your past life you were a drummer?
Yeah, I feel like I was. I don’t know, because whenever I listen to like Nirvana or like I’ll listen to Metallica, like when I hear the drums, like I’ll find myself just like tapping my feet, not just because I like it, but just because, I don’t know, I feel like I’m synched to it, like in one.
And when I fucking rap over a lot of beats that I choose, they’re really heavy drums half the time. So I feel like in my past life I was a drummer, but I suck at drumming.
You stay in the pocket on the mic though. Who is that producer that you worked with on ‘When Hell Falls’?
My homeboy, Henry Daher. He like pretty much like — not only like produced half the album. He mixed and mastered it as well. Like, he did a lot of the engineering and then also my home producer, Grimm Doza, and a couple other people that were working on it.
But me and Henry worked on it specifically, just together. We made it in like two weeks in a hotel room. So I didn’t even know that it was gonna be like this, come clean. I thought people were gonna hate the project because it was completely different from my last one.
In what sense?
In a sense of like if you listen to my first project, Black Heart Revenge, that actually like got some buzz, it was way more just like turn-up, you know what I mean? Like it was like what kids wanted. I knew that’s what my fans wanted to listen to. But now making this project, When Hell Falls, I was like, ‘How the fuck can I just be different?’ And I didn’t want to keep up turning up anymore because that shit gave me a headache. I kind of got annoyed with it after a while and then my manager is just like, yo, why don’t you just rap?
Because when I first started all I liked was just like bars. Not saying that I’m on some backpack rap shit, but I just feel like if you’re a rapper, you gotta rap. You know what just learned? I went to fucking Audiomack yesterday and I didn’t know so many rappers punch in when they make music. Like they just record like eight bars, punch in.
You didn’t know that?
I didn’t know that. I thought every rapper recorded from when it started the beat until like the end of the beat because that’s how I record. I’ll go straight in, I’ll do the hook, and then rap my verse like all in one take.
Say word. One take Wifi!
That punch in shit is for chumps!
That shit sucks. It’s like, why you even rapping then?
How do you put your records together?
Well, literally like from the tip of the beat, start to finish, like I’ll do my whole verse and hook in like one big ass take and then I’ll double it, add some adlibs, whatever-whatever, blasé blasé, chop it up, clean it up a little bit, boom, right there.
You said you were doing turn-up type music before because your fans wanted it. Were you also turning up personally?
Yeah. Oh, yeah, I was doing a shitload of drugs. Fucking overdosed like three times.
You smile when you say that, man. What were you overdosing on?
A lot of uppers, thank God, because now I just know not to do that no more. I feel like I’m on a permanent upper.
Are we talking about emergency rooms?
Yeah, definitely. Like I went to the emergency like four times in a year.
Yeah. I mean I’m not proud of it, but that’s just how my life turned out. I mean I’m here, I’m blessed to say that I’m here now talking to you, you know what I mean, like making music, so I obviously learned from that. You know what I mean? But I smile at that type of shit because I love the fact that I experienced that shit because like I feel like I — not that doing drugs is like living life to its fullest potential, but it’s like you can have a different perspective on life when you do a lot of drugs. You know what I mean? So the fact that I could like have a sober mind and still think outside the box, I kind of thank drugs for that because I kind of wouldn’t even open my mind to half of this shit that I’d be opening my mind to if it wasn’t for doing those drugs.
Just growing up. I’m about to be 20 in March. And it’s like how younger can you fucking get, I guess. I mean I know I’ve got like a whole lot of life to live, but it’s like I gotta start taking this shit, like not serious, but I gotta start taking my life a little bit more serious because if not, I’m gonna just drown. I don’t wanna drown.
We don’t want you to either.
Who made you want to rap in the first place?
Well, how I really wanted to start rapping was like I wanted it to be my career when I saw the Mo Money Mo Problems music video with Puffy and Mase. Like, looked at my mom when I was like 8 or 9 and I was like, this is what I want to do like for the rest of my life, this, exactly what they’re doing in this music video.
Shiny suits, like rapping, money, all of it, the whole nine yards.
Floating in the sky.
Yeah, I gotta do it. Like my manager said it, we got to do a music video like that, just, yeahhh, nigga! But yeah, my dad used to be like a little freestyle battle rapper in the Bronx, because I used to live in the Bronx before I moved to Florida. And so like he was never really in my life, but I used to talk to him on the phone a lot. And I used to be like mad when he would call my mom and talk to me because we wouldn’t have shit to talk about.
So my mom was like, oh, why don’t you guys do something that you guys both have in common, which I guess was rapping, but I didn’t even know that.
So that was the first thing that I thought of. I was just like, all right, bet, I’m just gonna write a rap song. I was like 7 and I wrote like my first 16, called him, rapped it to him over the phone, and I tried to use that as like a gateway to get closer with him, but it didn’t work, so then I was like, fuck it, and then it just turned into something that I just really wanted to do.
Has he reached out since the shit started to pop?
Yeah, but I don’t really care. Come clean, I really don’t.
How did you pick that name, Wifisfuneral?
Well, the funeral part because it started off as a duo with me and my DJ, DJ Scheme. His best friend committed suicide when he was like 14 or 15 and then that’s where the funeral part comes into place, because when his best friend committed suicide that’s when me and him became like really close friends.
And then Wifi, just because I want the music to be worldwide. I just want people everywhere to listen to it. You know what I mean? Like I want people in Africa, China, like everywhere listening to me.
When did you get the Wifi signal bars tattooed on your face?
I was like 17. Yeah, I was like 17, turning 18, right? Yeah, like 17 turning 18.
So the signal is strong wherever you go?
Honestly, I was just fucked up and I was like, yo, I’m gonna just tat some Wi-Fi bars on my face. And everybody just looked at me like, what’s the fuck is wrong with you? I was like, I’m just gonna do it.
What’s the difference between the Bronx and Palm Beach?
Everything. Like the way how they talk, the way how they dress, everybody’s perspective, everybody’s motives, what they want out of life. Like I feel like people from New York operate way different from people down south. I feel like people down south have a way more simpler like mindset, as opposed to what they want to do with their life, but I feel like in New York you have so many fucking options. You know what I mean? Like, you have no reason to just sit on your ass.
Which do you prefer?
Honestly, Florida. I loved the fact that I was raised in Florida. And that’s no disrespect to the Bronx because like New York is beautiful. But it’s like I can understand why my mom didn’t want me to like live here. It would have probably fucked me up in the head living out here. It probably would have been too much for me. I’m gonna be honest.
So I would definitely like want to stay in Florida. I kind of have like this bitter love for Florida. I don’t ever want to leave it, but I gotta leave it.
Yeah, because it’s like I hate it at the same time because ain’t nobody really fuck with me from out there. Like it’s just like now I’m really getting the support from people from Florida, you know what I mean, because like I’ve been consistently releasing music and I’ve just like not gave a fuck like what people have said, you know to quit, or to do this or to do that. So you know people are respecting me on that shit.
But it’s like to actually like get love from the city and love from the state, that shit didn’t start happening for a while. And that’s no disrespect to Florida, but it’s like I just — I know what it is at the end of the day. You know what I mean? And I’m not fighting for that Florida spot. I’m not fighting to be the best rapper out of Florida. Like, my mindset is bigger than that. I’m trying to do something completely out of the box and just be in my own lane, you know?
But you got certain partners in crime that you’re moving with. You’re rolling with Robb Banks on tour at the moment, right?
Yeah, right now, yeah, that’s my dog. I fuck with Robb. I met Robb like a year or two ago and like I’ve been a big fan of his music like since I was a kid, so like that’s my nigga, I fuck with him.
I heard that record you did, a remix for “Don’t Test Me” with XXX.
Yeah, that’s actually my record.
Oh, that’s your record?
Yeah, that’s my record. I released the original record through Nick Marino (phonetic * 0:09:09.4) from A$AP Ant’s DJ from Marino Gang. It was like an exclusive for one of his mixtapes. X hit me up was like, yo, I want to remix it. So I just sent him the song. I didn’t even have the files at the time and all he did was just like — I didn’t even send him the song. I just sent him the beat and he just like synced it through fucking Virtual DJ and just turned the beat down and just did his own shit. So that’s my dog, Free X.
A lot of people have their own opinions about this guy. Who is the XXX that you know?
That’s my brother at the end of the day. Anything that anyone can say about him, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but that is my brother at the end of the day. And regardless of what mistakes — major mistakes that he makes in life, I’m always gonna have his back, regardless, and I’m gonna always be there for him and I’m gonna always hold shit down for him because I know he would do the same for me. You know what I mean? At the end of the day, people don’t know X. You know what I mean? They don’t know him like how we know him, so just leave it at that.
And even at times when he be hating us, you know what I mean? Not fucking with us for no reason or doing this or doing that. And that’s no disrespect to him. I’m not trying to make him look like a bad guy, but you know—he be getting like that sometimes. We still be showing nothing but love for him. You know what I mean? He just going through a really rough time right now.
It’s sad because how would you feel blowing the fuck up and you can’t even taste that shit because you behind four walls? You know what I mean? So people don’t really like look at it from this perspective. The situation is bad, though. The situation is really bad and I pray for nothing but the best for him.
How did it feel to see Drake hopping on his flow?
Nah, that shit is fire because of the simple fact like I’m a Drake fan. I love Drake. And like to see him copy like one of my best friends, it’s like it’s fire. You can’t complain about it. I mean people got their opinion. I thought that shit was wack, but it’s like, I understand. Like, who wouldn’t? It’s like one of the hottest records out right now.
So you mentioned Rich Life. Is that your clique?
Well, my label is Rich Life. I have my own label. Rich Life is me, Danny Towers, Chris Deniro, Young Benz, and DJ Scheme, and Grimm Doza.
All right. So let’s talk about the ‘When Hell Falls’ project. First of all, what’s behind that title?
Well, Black Heart Revenge, my first project, that was supposed to basically be When Hell Falls. That’s what I was trying to get out of it, but it just didn’t turn out that way, so we just got a shitload of random songs and just put it together.
I was trying to like go through like this dark point in my life that I had because like Black Heart Revenge, that’s when I overdosed. Like, that was the year that I overdosed like three times. And then When Hell Falls, currently this year, I’m just like thinking about all that shit that I did back then and then I’m having a lot of other like more problems in my life, so I was still in that dark cave. You feel me?
So like for this project it took me two weeks to make, but like mentally it was like five months to just prepare for this shit because I didn’t know how to put shit into words, I didn’t know how to put it into a song, or what beats I wanted or blasé blasé.
So it was just like the whole like concept behind it is just like a big ass fucking fight with myself in my head to just get my shit together and get my shit straight and just be like, yo, like you need to fucking grow up.
And the record, “Lost My Mind,” what was the direct inspiration on that one?
Well, the whole album was a suicide note that I wrote a year ago. And then I turned the whole suicide note into a mixtape. So yeah.
Making lemonade out of lemons.
Yeah, man, you know yellow everything, man. Shout out Gucci. Come on.
So what about the other one, the “Luv Me Never” tune. Is that about relationships?
That’s definitely about relationships. I try to make a lot of music that I don’t make about myself so much. I try to like base the topics over like specific feelings that I know people will feel but just don’t like talking about it because it’s just not like not the first thing you want to talk about.
So yeah, that’s definitely about relationships because I was dating my girlfriend. Well, I still am dating my girlfriend for like five years now. And we were just going through a really bad time. And I just made the song in like a minute, honestly. Like I came with like the whole thing. I just knew what to say already because I was like pissed off.
What does she think of the record?
She loves it. She loves it. That’s like the first record that I’ve actually like made about her that I’m not bashing her and saying like, fuck you. You know what I mean? I’m just like, all right, I’ll get my shit together.
Where did you get that Ali hoodie?
A fan actually gave this to me. I was in San Francisco and I just wanted to buy like a shitload of Supreme just because I had money, for no reason. And this fan was like, yo, I’ll give it to you for free. So I was like, all right, bet. And then he gave it to me and I was just like, yo, I really appreciate and everything like that. Shout-out to that nigga that gave me this hoodie. I really be rocking this shit. This shit is hard as fuck. So yeah.
And you know we lost Ali not too long ago. What does that picture mean to you?
I mean that’s the greatest. You know what I mean? Like he’s a representation of everything that I probably want to do in my career is just be the best and go out as the best. So hopefully that could happen.
It’s a little early to be going out and you’re touring, you’re almost 20 years old and you got some time.
You never know. You live today, die tomorrow, man. You just gotta enjoy every day.
Said with a smile. So where are we going from here? You know you got the project buzz and Spotify is playing your tune heavy. What’s the next move?
Another project. Honestly, I want to release my project, another one that I’m trying to work on. I don’t want to say the name. I mean people already know the name, but I don’t want to say the name because you’re probably gonna be like, pffft, fuck?
No, you need to say the name because it’s Mass Appeal, man. This is the jump off.
All right, well, I’m like working on like — I don’t know if I’m gonna make this like an actual album, you know what I mean, and go all out with it, but I’ve been like contemplating this project for about two years now called 27 Club (phonetic * 0:16:05.7) that I’m probably gonna release by the end of this year. And if we just get everything right, we’ll release that, more visuals for When Hell Falls, and just, you know what I mean, going back on tour soon. Hopefully we get a headlining tour soon and everything else. Just keep shit going, keep these records going, and just doing what we did like ten times better. You know what I mean? Just keep the same motives and just keep everything flowing.
Is 27 Club mean that you’re gonna be on the planet at least seven more years?
Uh-uh. What 27 Club means to me, like my meaning behind it, is just like being in the same presence as something. You know what I mean, like not necessarily killing myself at 27, but like being big enough as if I died at 27. You know what I mean? Being as big as Jimi Hendrix, as big as Kurt Cobain. I’m not saying that I’ll be because, you feel me, that’s just a lot to fucking say, but I aim to be like that big.
You’d be older than Big and Pac at that point.
Yeah, that’d be fine. If I live past 27, fine, let’s go. Feel me? Fuck it, why not. 30? Fuck it. But if not, fuck it too. It’s whatever.
So what’s your approach to the business side of things because the game changes every five minutes.
Well, I mean as in applying to the underground or to like the club?
Are labels hollering?
Nah, definitely. We’ve had like meetings with a couple labels, you know what I mean? They’re talking, but like they ain’t really talking. You know? But they’re talking. At least, like shit, I fucking dropped out of school and didn’t do shit like two years ago, so the fact that they’re taking the time out of their day to like hit me up and talk to me, I appreciate it, you know what I mean, but they ain’t really talking-talking.
They’re not catching your ear yet.
Not even that they not catching my ear. It’s just like they say they understand, but they don’t understand. Until I find somebody that like really understands Wifisfuneral and could like really, really like push it to its fullest extent and put 100 percent of their focus on me, as I guess selfish as that sounds, we ain’t doing shit. We’ll have all the meetings in the world, we’ll cool it with you, we’ll fucking tour around, whatever-whatever, but it’s like until then, fuck that. Like might as well just stay independent.
Are you living comfortably now? Your lifestyle change a little bit?
Nah, I’m still busting my ass. And if anybody thinks that I’m like on this lavish, lavish, lavish shit, they got it fucked up. You know what I mean? Like I’m busting my fucking ass to do exactly what the fuck I need to do because we don’t have — you know what I mean? Al these other people have like machines and all that shit behind them. That’s what we’re working like towards, but all we have is just like six people just doing exactly all this shit. My manager, Henry, me, Nash and my DJ.
And fucking shout-out my boy — well, hold on, I can’t even say his name. But shout-out my nigga, you feel me? Because I’ll be giving up the plug. Shout-out my nigga.
It’s us, you know what I mean? So we trying to really build a machine behind it and actually like put some fucking big-ass substance behind it so people could really understand it. And not just like look at it from an internet perspective because I’m tired of being like in this like internet like SoundCloud genre. It’s cool, it’s a great platform to like release music on, but it’s like why the fuck you gonna put me in this fucking category based off where I release my music from. It makes no sense. So what am I, a YouTube rapper from fucking blowing up on YouTube? It’s bullshit. I’m a rapper, regardless.
What do you think that ‘Soundcloud Rapper’ label is about? Why do people throw those terms around?
Because people don’t want to accept the fact that, okay, people fuck with you. You know what I mean? Like people are actually bumping your music. And it’s not just through this platform anymore. People don’t understand the concept of like, yo, we have these things and you can release music on these things for a reason, but it’s like the whole point of releasing it through these platforms is to get bigger off of it. You feel me?
So what, just because you’re doing your shit, you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, people are gonna just belittle you and everything that you’ve ever worked for and say, oh, you’re a SoundCloud rapper. Fuck you. You know how hard I’ve bust for those fucking million plays that I got? You know how hard I bust for these fucking reposts and this and this and that? So you’re just gonna tell me just because of this platform that I released it on, I’m a fucking SoundCloud rapper? Like suck my dick. I hate that shit. It’s ridiculous.
People really say that to your face?
Well, nah, not to my face, but you know you see these blogs and you see like all these other people saying like, oh, SoundCloud artist, SoundCloud artist, SoundCloud artist. Like, fuck you. Hate that shit.
We hit #17 on iTunes, my nigga. Like I’m a SoundCloud rapper? What the fuck? So Pouya is a SoundCloud rapper? He hit #1 on iTunes.
Have you had that experience of like hearing the jeep rolling by bumping your shit?
All the time, especially in my city, Palm Beach. Man, like they show me so much love. Shout-out, Palm Beach, man, cause like we don’t got that many rappers actually representing Palm Beach County. And if they did, you feel me, they dead and gone, sadly.
But yeah, man, I’m just — that shit has happened plenty of times. And it’s always surreal too. I never get gas and I’m like, ah, yeah, someone is bumping my shit. I’m always in shock, like, oh, shit. Like you taking the time to actually bump my music? That shit still like shocks me to this day. It’s ridiculous.
It’s funny. When I hear Palm Beach, I think about like some golf courses.
As you should. I mean I’m not gonna expect you to think about the hood. Listen, look at the name, Palm Beach. You know what I mean? Because we’re known for that. But the thing about Palm Beach is you’ll have the suburbs right here, then the hood right behind it, then the bump, bump, bump, bump, bump. So it’s like you’ll have a really nice suburban house and then the Section 8 houses are right behind it. So it’s crazy, it’s so like — it’s like a gumbo. You never know what the fuck you gonna get out of it.
And then it’s like divided by a bridge too. You go on your left side, you’ll see like more of the suburbs. If you go on your right side, like straight off I-95, you’ll see more of the hood. Just keep going straight down. You won’t miss it.
You’ll know it when you find it, right? So how old were you when you moved there?
Probably like 7 or 8. I was like 7 or 8.
You remember the Bronx, though?
Yeah, I love the Bronx.
So where exactly?
179th Street, (inaudible * 0:22:19.3) Avenue.
And what is your fondest memory of the BX?
My grandmother’s house, just living there. Just like eating her food, chilling with her. When I was living with my grandma, like that’s when I was like real deal, real deal happy, because like we was straight. My grandparents was like really taking care of us. You feel me?
And then when my mom—my mom was still holding the shit down and so was my stepdad. Like they always made sure that I had food on my plate and everything like that, but like shit just got like really hard at a time. You feel me? It was still hard once we moved out of my grandmother’s house, so that’s the only thing…
Where did your family come from originally?
You’re Puerto Rican on both sides?
Have you made it back there yet?
Nah, I’ve never been to Puerto Rico before. I want to go. A lot of people say that it’s really nice and I like the beaches and shit. They’re like really clear. I really want to go.
Do you fuck with reggaeton at all?
Fuck no. I hate that shit. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Spanish people. I love Spanish people and Spanish culture, and Hispanic culture, but it’s like that shit, man, like that shit just irks my nerve after a time. I can’t do it.
I’m not even mad at you.
That shit is annoying, man. I gotta be drunk as fuck, bro. Honestly, just like piss drunk, like yeahhh, let’s fucking go!
How has the tour been?
It’s been good, you know what I mean? Like the road gets crazy after a while, you know what I mean, because like you’re just around so many like people. You don’t really get that much privacy, you know what I mean, you’ve gotta always be on the bus with each other. You gotta like deal with each other’s shit. You know what I mean? So it gets like — it gets to you after a while, but it’s been pretty fine. You know what I mean?
Was there any city that surprised you like how much they knew your shit?
Dallas. Like every song from start to finish they were screaming from the top of their lungs. And like that’s the most love I’ve ever gotten other than like from my own city or from Florida, period. Honestly.
Who is the greatest rapper of all time?
MF Doom. Doom holds the best bars, best flow, that’s the best rapper ever. And the second best rapper right behind him is Lil Wayne.
And then the third best rapper in my eyes, in my opinion, is Eminem.
I was waiting for that. I had a feeling you might have a connection with him.
Yeah, my like Relapse, Marshal Mathers LP 1, Slim Shady LP, thank you for all of it.
Why ‘Relapse’? I wouldn’t have guessed that.
Because that’s that fucking shit. What (inaudible * 0:27:22.1) love valium. That’s that shit. That’s that fucking shit. And I don’t know, I was just at a really fucking rebellious time in the 8th grade and I was just like, yeah, fuck everything. And that album just spoke to me.
I’d like to hear you make the argument for MF Doom as the G.O.A.T.
Well, because you know like — come on, you’ve heard that album with him and Madlib. From start to finish, you just can’t complain about his bars. Okay, you can complain about his flow. A lot of people will say that they’ll complain about MF Doom’s flow on certain songs that he does, but it’s like he’s so out the box and he inspired so many like artists now that are like in this whole lyrical shit, like people like Earl. He influenced Tyler in his early career.
Even on the production, he has such a big influence, it was like why not consider him one of the best and one of the greatest? You feel me? Like Biggie influenced somebody — or influenced so many people and did this for so many people rap-wise that we look at him as a fucking king. You know what I mean? Same way how people look as Biggie as a king, I just look at Doom in a better light.
I just see what a lot of people don’t see and I just took the time to just dig into his shit and I just love his shit from start to finish.
Well, I’m glad you mentioned Biggie.
Yeah. No, Biggie one of the best. I was born like a week after he died.
That’s fucking me up right now.
And so your experience of Biggie is YouTube?
Yeah. I was like in the 6th grade and I think that was when Notorious was coming out. And I was just like so hyped to see the movie and shit, that there was this mixtape on Live Mixtapes of just Biggie’s shit. And I was just bumping it up like start to finish.
But like before then my dad, when I was like 10 or 11, he gave me a big ass fucking Timberland case of every album, like every album from ’91 all the way to ’99. And the first album that I ever heard, actually, was The Chronic Ready to Die. And when I heard Ready to Die, that fucked my whole head up.
Wow. Shout-out to your dad. I mean I know you—
Well, nah, that’s my stepdad. That’s not my real dad. That’s my stepdad. Shout out to that nigga. That’s a real nigga. You feel me?