Ratking is a New York hip-hop group with two vocalists, Hak and Wiki, and producer Sporting Life. The duo’s previous work, “Wiki93,” combined hints of sounds from New York’s past greats (Wu-Tang Clan, G-Unit and Cam’ron to name a few) and new styles with grimy and unorthodox beats that rejected the normal “boom bap” style that is being revitalized. Although they have experimented and taken interesting risks to evolve the sound of New York hip-hop, they seemed to lack focus when it comes to song writing.
Ratking fills the role it created on its new full-length LP, “So It Goes.” The album is a snapshot of life in New York. Again, producer Sporting Life (Sport) created a wonderfully chaotic foundation that feels like a tribute to the city. It’s loud and crass and bumps around. It is equally inspired by early ’90s rap beats, jazz and noise rock. Simultaneously, Sport developed a brand new rap sound and kept the dirty, authentic feeling that is New York rap.
The album shines on tracks like “Snow Beach,” which begins with lovely, uplifting piano keys and a more traditional beat. Yet, it changes half-way through into a swirly vortex of drums, bass and saxophones. Wiki, the de facto frontman of Ratking, nasally creates a mixed picture of a city he both loves and hates.
The track “So Sick Stories” is a twisting and turning tale of the city featuring the artist King Krule.
Songs like “Puerto Rican Judo” give the group much needed emotional depth and character. It’s a dark, noisy song with floating synthesizers that tie it together. It’s also a loving look at a romance between Wiki and Wavy Spice, the other rapper on the track. Wiki actually brings some emotion on this track, saying things like “Even the folks on my own street look at me phony / You hold me like you know me.”
Hak and Wiki tear down the police in the groovy and intense track, “Remove Ya.”
The clicking and cacophonous single “Canal” hits the listener hard, which warrants noting that these artists have carefully crafted the album.
The album gets it name from the widely famous quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse 5.” Without giving too much away, when Vonnegut says “so it goes” throughout the novel, he is reminding the reader that this is just how life works. The album uses this concept to say that this album is an accurate look at how life actually is in New York City.
Where Ratking improves over its New York contemporaries is in its ability to create an album that captures the feeling of the city, without, of course, trying to be Biggie Smalls. This album is a must-listen to for all fans of hip-hop, but those of New York hip-hop in particular. Ratking has successfully reinvented New York rap without destroying it in the process. Although this album is not nearly as groundbreaking as an album like “Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers,” it is a unique and inspiring look at New York hip-hop sound. The lyrics and stories do not falter, and Ratking created a passionate and authentic story without inundating it with nostalgia.
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