Release Date: Apr 8, 2014
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Underground Rap, Left-Field Hip-Hop
“TWENTY DEGREES OUTSIDE, TOOOOASTING!” No, not a misleading weather report, but a gleefully ironic reference that lead Ratking MC Patrick ‘Wiki’ Morales makes to his native New York’s harsh winter climate throughout the first part of ‘Snow Beach’. It’s a phrase that’s deliberately at odds with the joyous calypso-y beats that cascade around; a delightfully aural disagreement – a fine way of labelling 2014’s most exciting hip-hop collective. For the uninitiated, Ratking (Google image search it at your peril) are a bombastic hip-hop three-piece who, as first evidenced on 2012’s ferociously-immense EP Wiki 93, channel the raw energy of the New York cityscape that’s inspired and ostracised them in equal measure.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. For all the millennials out there, Ratking's So It Goes is the album we've all been waiting for since 2012's Wiki93 EP. The New York based hip-hop trio of 20-something rappers - Patrick 'Wiki' Morales and Hak, and 32-year-old producer Sporting Life - redefine what it truly means to be a noise-rap group in 2014.
Riding the considerable amount of buzz they've built recently from their raucous live shows, NYC trio RATKING (young Manhattan emcees Wiki and Hak and their older Brooklyn via Virginia beatmaker Sporting Life) piece together quite the eclectic racket on their debut full-length, So It Goes. Over a kaleidoscope of soundscapes equally indebted to electronic, indie rock and the traditional rap blueprint, Wiki and Hak spit hasty bars telling the story of young men entrenched in the streets of New York City in the here and now. A throwback rap revival this ain't.
"Most of these rappers now, they're of a different generation … a 23-year-old rapper is completely different from Biggie and Pac … So it goes. " With this spoken introduction – poleaxed by a distorted, syncopated beat – Ratking make their intentions clear. Comprising two 20-year-old rappers, Wiki and Hak, alongside producer Sporting Life (a decade older), the New York collective have created a dirty, aggressive, but creatively fecund form of hip-hop that's steeped in their city's musical legacy, but still heading in a new direction.
Aptly named, New York City hip-hop crew Ratking have that subterranean royalty thing on lock, coming off as a Wu-Tang-ish package of power and empire-demolishing purpose on So It Goes, a murky slab of revolution music that overcomes its accessibility issues with pure excitement. Speaking of accessibility issues, the first track's title is a symbol, and the first four cuts play out like a chaotic remix of Yeezus with all sliders on the graphic equalizer pushed up to 11. The epic N.Y.C.
At a time when so many young, emerging New York City rappers are eagerly presenting themselves as a sum of their classic New York rap influences, Ratking have generated attention by trying to represent something different. Bursting onto the scene with rabble-rousing gusto and a reputation for wild live shows, teenage MCs Wiki and Hak (of the Upper West Side and Harlem, respectively) and Harlem-based producer Sporting Life aim to revitalize the reckless spirit of classic New York rap. From the title of their full-length debut So It Goes—a Kurt Vonnegut reference that doubles as commentary on whether hip-hop is dead—to the album's nearly-exclusive focus on New York as a muse, it's impossible to misinterpret Ratking's stance on the constant conversation that runs through hip-hop culture.
“So it goes” is a phrase coined by Kurt Vonnegut in his World War Two novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Used to illustrate the senselessness of war, it’s invoked in moments where we’re reminded how fragile life can be. As Vonnegut put it, “there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre”. As we might put it today: shit happens.‘So It Goes’ is also the title of the debut album by Ratking, a Harlem-based hip-hop trio convened around Patrick ‘Wiki’ Morales, a 19-year-old punk kid and self-proclaimed “mutt” raised by an Irish dad and a Puerto-Rican mum on New York’s Upper West Side.
You won't hear any attempts to remake Reasonable Doubt or Illmatic on this hotly tipped New York rap trio's debut – these street rats are telling a new story. Producer Sporting Life's lush, chaotic beats back the group's two young MCs as they deliver intricate incantations about being high in church and staying warm in subway tunnels. Wiki's flow is like a paint gun blasting out beautiful graffiti; Hak's warm hooks balance it all out.
A lot of albums sound like they come from New York City, but fewer sound like they are New York City. Ratking’s debut album, ‘So It Goes’, doesn’t simply embody the city that it’s from, it sounds like a gritty and fully-formed manifestation of the city in sound.Evolving from their EP ‘Wiki93’, this full-length debut feels like more of a collective effort. All members of the avant-rap outfit play a bigger role, with Wiki now acting as more of a co-star to Hak.
Ratking — So It Goes (XL)“I was at Jimbo’s last night on Two-Fifth, the original one on Amsterdam. They open for like 24 hours now. And um, me and homeboy, we was just talkin’.
The city is a cold place. “20 degrees outsiiiiiiide,” Wiki raps again and again on “Snow Beach,” from the first full-length Ratking album, “So It Goes” (Hot Charity/XL). That song — which with its dusty sax loops could have been copied from a cassette of an old Stretch Armstrong ….
It’s no surprise that Ratking’s debut album, So It Goes, takes its name from the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Just as the phrase curtailed a character’s death, Ratking (comprised of Manhattan-local MCs Patrick “Wiki” Morales and Hakeem “Hak” Lewis and transplant producer Eric “Sporting Life” Adiele) intends to put a knife through the heart of old-school ‘90s hip-hop. Unlike the collective’s contemporaries (such as Smoke DZA and Joey Bada$$) who seem enamored with New York’s hip-hop “glory days,” Ratking combines iconic punk rock and hardcore attitude with rhymes, pushing forward for a style that fits the modern-day New York.
Tori Amos, Unrepentant Geraldines Unique artists that make a musical home in the fringes, those who have, by their instinctive weirdness, forged a singular path that almost willingly contradicts everything else going on in the world, really do have their work cut out for them. At least when it comes to playing the long game. David Bowie, Björk, Tom Waits and Tori Amos all sprint to mind, and while all have been wildly successful in their respective careers, all have gone through extended rough patches during which their art didn’t widely connect with the rabid fan bases they culled during stretches of unparalleled brilliance.
With the Kurt Vonnegut-referencing So It Goes, Ratking follow 2012’s Wiki93 with another refreshingly unconventional release. Unfortunately, the Manhattanites’ long awaited debut long-player isn’t quite as spectacular as their EP suggested it would be. The star of the show here is undoubtedly Wiki, one of the group’s two rappers. Though far from a great technical rapper, what Wiki’s MCing lacks in virtuoso tongue-twisting it makes up in pure personality.