Ratking – “Snow Beach”

There’s two things going on at the heart of So It Goes, the only album from the hip-hop group Ratking. First is the heavy allegiance to the group’s homebase of New York City. The album is weathered, skeptical, and knowing, with emcees Wiki and Hak hopping turnstiles and riding trains all around Manhattan, referencing blocks where legends have been slain, watching out for NYPD’s street teams, and taking it day-by-day in spots where gentrification hasn’t hit yet. The second is a pervasive sense of agitation, a young, hyperactive kind of energy heard in Wiki and Hak’s defiant rhymes and also in producer Sporting Life‘s beats, which are jittery, closed in, and constantly pacing. All of this gives So It Goes gravitas, dropping you deep into Ratking’s world, and putting you in a certain New York state of mind. It’s a very modern and palpable take on NYC rap, as these kids aren’t fazed by anything and they know how to navigate every part of the streets. It’s no wonder that this record got a lot of attention back on release in 2014.

And since the moment the record hit, I find myself coming back to it from time to time, especially during the winter. This album is definitely a winter record (and you know I love the winter joints!). It’s cold and bleak, the type of soundtrack to keep on your headphones as you zip up the winter coat, check your Timbs, and step out into the frozen night.

“Snow Beach” is a banger. I love this track! It kicks off with a rambunctious interlude which is loud and in your face like a kid calling you out on the train. It hits you right in the chest and it feels like a moment of wildin’ out. The track then settles down, the beat becoming evocative and dramatic, with a smooth saxophone accompaniment, topped off by a memorable hook which sets the tone perfectly. A solo Wiki track, the kid goes to work dropping lyrical heatwaves almost like he’s doing so to warm himself up (That reminds me that I’ve got to cover his solo work here, and soon!). This one is too cold, better stay warm.