Much is often made of the relationship between artist and place. A common consideration for sure, yet it seems foolish to appraise any artist without considering the effect of his location on everything from his unique worldview to his understanding and use of the various elements that make up his musical vision.
Consider then what it means to make music in the following landscape: a city famed for its fearlessness and endeavor, struck by despair and shuttered. A city in which delicate, perfumed beauty sits aside rancid, mangled poverty. A city wide eyed and weary, at all times both monument and bulldozer, remaining itself through constant “de” and “re”construction.
That city is New York and the band is RATKING. Wiki, Hak and Sporting Life. While many of their peers seem too content to inhabit the safety of mimicry and pastiche, RATKING’s music is best understood as neither reenactment nor recreation, but reaction.
To what, one might ask?
Well, a clip from any one of their frenetic live shows provides an immediate answer: you hear the fallout of a bloated and self satisfied hip hop, the nihilist refrain of dead end punk and the prickly reach for connection that befits their noise and experimental influences. Left with the various remaining bits of all these traditions and the bum-rush scramble of modern life, RATKING are creating a new reality in every moment, just like every other inhabitant of New York City. While Sporting Life weaves a teeming Big Apple backdrop, Wiki and Hak act not only as our mischievous tour guides but dual ends of our own conscious: one sharp witted, vulnerable and seemingly anti-social, the other feral, poetic and almost philosophical. Call it ‘no wave’ rap. Call it ‘no school’ hip hop. Call it RATKING