Ratking’s sophomore LP So It Goes opens with a cacophony of voices in a dissonant but intentional chaos that characterizes this frenetic album. The bass drops two successive beats, and then an unnamed character enters, retelling an argument he had with his friend the other night at a bar on Amsterdam Avenue. His friend says that hip-hop is dead, that all music made today is “garbage.” But the unknown voice comes to the defense of contemporary rappers, arguing that the genre has evolved, that it really doesn’t make sense to compare 20-year-old rappers in 2014 to Tupac and Biggie. “So it goes,” he says, before frontman Wiki starts his verse.
This intro encapsulates the album as a whole. Ratking is not looking to regurgitate the kind of rap that has dominated the genre for the past two decades. And with the reference to Amsterdam Avenue, Ratking announces the most important part of their image—they’re from New York. The album is about the chaotic beauty of a 20-something making his or her way through the urban wildlife. Listening to the album, you feel like you’re there, in a city pulsating with life.
But it does eventually get tiresome. The issues they address (such as the brutality of the NYPD and the stop-and-frisk policy) and the detailed pictures that they paint of life in the city are important, even moving. But there are times when it feels like they are forgetting the frenzied image they’re trying to create in favor of reminding the listener of their hometown pride, which is the exact kind of tired trope in rap that they claim to transcend.
But it is overall a hugely successful sophomore issue. The songs “So Sick Stories” and “Puerto Rican Judo,” featuring King Krule and Princess Nokia (Ante-Fling, what up?) respectively, especially stand out. All I can say is that I can’t wait to hear what these guys do next; I’m expecting big things.