Ratking’s So It Goes opens with a monologue about how you can’t compare current, young rappers to Biggie and Tupac because of the massive difference in life experience. As the argument goes, they have separate reference points and therefore cannot be put up against one another; they are of completely distinct times. This opening serves not only as a warning that this isn’t just another nostalgic rap album trying to recreate the magic of Biggie and Pac, but also as a mission statement: Ratking are producing forward thinking and exciting music that isn’t aiming to please nostalgic rap fans.
I can almost guarantee that, in fact, it won’t please those fans since on So It Goes Ratking deliver one of the most innovative and unorthodox rap albums of recent years. Their unique and off-kilter flows are set to lush but stuttering beats that create a soundscape entirely of their own. No two tracks are the same: they flit between hard-hitting noise-rap on ‘Canal’ to a much more subtle and melodic sound on ‘Eat’. Wiki (one third of the trio which makes up the collective, along with rapper Hak and producer Sporting Life) spits furiously over harsh bass stabs one minute, and in the next King Krule delivers a gorgeous hook in one of the calmer moments. It is exactly this variety that makes So It Goes such a good album. It creates a unique vision which you can identify definitively as Ratking, but also steers clear of becoming predictable or sinking into a formula.
The choice of collaborators on the album is also something that sets the trio apart from most of their contemporaries; they reject the status quo of cramming as many famous faces and producers on to a record and hoping it works. Instead, Ratking have carefully created a coherent vision by rejecting many big time producers and, instead, relying on their own Sporting Life, as well as other young producers such as Black Mack, for production. There are only three other featured artists on the album, all of a similar ilk and all contributing to the collective vision of So It Goes.
In rejecting the ‘New York’ sound of years gone by, Ratking have, ironically, produced a decidedly ‘New York’ album. So It Goes follows the lineage of creating something completely new whilst maintaining the fierce and grimey sound that has defined New York rap since its inception. It is this innovation that makes So It Goes such an exciting album, firmly placing Ratking at the forefront of experimental rap, and showcasing a young trio who aren’t afraid to explore new soundscapes. The end result is a great album full of exciting ideas, ideas that I am sure will now be employed by the many admirers this piece of work will no doubt garner.
Photo credit: XL Records