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Posted on April 8th, 2014 (9:00 am) by Ashley Pike

Taking their name from a New York urban legend, young trio Ratking are making a name for themselves as purveyors of the kind of rap that is sorely missed in a genre dominated by either over-production and gimmicks, or those attempting to load their sound with nostalgia for the old hip-hop of the early '90s. Ratking, while being born in the midst of the much lauded New York rap scene, aims to take a few steps away: close enough to sound pleasantly familiar, but still moving away and, therefore, forward. On their debut release, So It Goes, they offer up something thoughtful and fresh to the tired masses.

One of the first things to notice on So It Goes is that the backing music is best described as "well formulated confusion." "Canal" makes use of the notion, with a consistent buzz to add to the harsh rhymes, giving it the feel of something rusty and raw. "Snow Beach" utilizes that same instrumentation, then throws some light chanting into the mix that gives way to a softer jazz feel and toned down vocals that gently tapers away into actual crashing waves, which sound eerie rather than cheesy. "So Sick Stories" is another low key track featuring King Krule, which stands out as the soft jam against the grit of previous tracks. "Remove Ya" features a recording of police harassment, a heavy subject for young people in New York, where "looking shady" is enough to be subject to stop-and-frisk.

"So It Goes" has more of the feel of the rap of their predecessors, but the hum underneath sets them apart, with subtle chants and a more deliberate beat. "Puerto Rican Judo" features a cameo by Wavy Spice and features some lovely rapping about growing old, "rapping to an angel," all against a more playful and less grainy backing beat. "Protein," however, rails against church and the '90s rap revival, using a frantic beat to push it rapidly along at a breakneck pace. "Take" features Harlem rapper Salomon Faye rhyming against a leaden yet polished sound, punctuated with some oddly gentle chanting. It's a satisfying closure to an intriguing and gratifying listen.

Ratking stand out in a music scene that could be criticized for prioritizing showmanship over talent, and So It Goes is proof they deserve the attention they're receiving. They, much like their hometown, are gritty, with a sound that borders on unapproachable. Yet it's refreshing to hear something that sounds both familiar and, at the same time, restoring and different. You would almost hate to see them hit it big, lest they lose some of the spark that is so evident in the grittiness of their work. However, based on their natural sound and down to earth words, it's safe to say they'll still stand out no matter what.

Track List:

  • Canal
  • Snow Beach
  • So Sick Stories (feat. King Krule)
  • Remove Ya
  • Eat
  • So It Goes
  • Puerto Rican Judo (feat. Wavy Spice)
  • Protein
  • Bug Fights
  • Take (feat. Salomon Faye)
  • Ratking: So It Goes
    Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

    Our Rating

    70 / 100
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