“I take the train everyday, it’s like a break from the pain.” –Ratking
Ratking is a favorite take away from a jam-packed CMJ marathon. The trio builds thick, ethereal beats under steel and concrete rhymes for a sound that is specifically New York City. Wiki, Hak, and Sporting life are Manhattanites documenting what it feels like on the trains and in the streets. Ratking tracks speed by you, then slow on the platform so you can board for a ride. Haunting vocals intersperse with cutting rap percussion over a video game soundtrack, dressed in plain sneakers and hoodies.
“Wiki” is the frontman that gets the crowd's attention, spitting encyclopedic knowledge of city struggle. Wiki is also the pronunciation of whiskey in the Spanish Caribbean. It might have something to do with Ratking’s frontman missing significant bits of his grill. From his live show, it’s not hard to imagine an intoxicated Wiki getting into it and leaving a few teeth behind in the scuffle. Lyrics depict conflict and risk, contemplating electrocution by third rail.
With all its heavy, Ratking brings the energy, the storytelling, the feeling of easy companionship that comes with being young on the block. Their music is sharp and sly, full of light with a dark underbelly. Ratking is a story of shine cutting through daily grind and grime. Youth skating over concrete, playing by the tracks. Borrowing from rap predecessors, the group creates its vision of NYC hip hop now.
“6 milly-yon trains to ride, choose one,” RATKING.