WATCHING THE VIDEO FOR RATKING'S SNOWBEACH MADE ME WRITE ABOUT THEIR ALBUM'S ARRIVAL IN NEW YORK THIS PAST SUMMER.
Consistent RATKING collaborator and renown photographer, Director Ari Marcopolous, makes very good use of Coney Island's beach for Ratking's "Snow Beach" visual. He captures their lifestyle vividly, in a way that could only be detailed by a close companion. The fresh visual is complimented by his color choice of black and white. It only reminded me of RATKING's chokehold on New York's summer of 2014 and how well it's bled into my 2015. Coney Island was a fair place to shoot the coldest track on their summer album So It Goes, where Wiki asks pivotal New Yorker rap questions like "Why'd they have to make a campus out the park?" or "How you supposed to be handsome and harsh?"
Attending their last summer '14 show in New York before they went on to play Coachella, really set the precedent for both a hot and unpredictable season. In today’s music landscape many are just taking the past and unwittingly stripping its shine, but RATKING have been the most creative with New York’s rap sound, because even when they draw from the past, they’re not afraid to be themselves. It’s hard to even box them in the shell of rap. Although they’re based in rhyme, their music has the ribald noise of Punk Rock and the calming breeziness of Reggae.
During an early summer show, I stood outside with friends for about an hour as members of the large crowd waited for entry into the midtown hole-in-the-wall venue. Things became dreary when we learned that the venue had reached capacity and we were going to be waiting a while, possibly not getting in at all. As skater kids, college couples, and a group of kids from Jersey chatted outside, one young man decided to hop on a street sign for leverage, and jump onto a pull-down fire escape. He climbed his way into the window of the room that RATKING performed in, which was two stories above us. The show was just that important to him. Fuck a fire code: he had a fire escape.
Seeing the desperate need for entry to their show, RATKING’s mysterious Hak brought out a free version of their new album, So It Goes, and promotional posters to hand out to the crowd while they patiently waited for things to play out. Still standing in line, we eventually heard the thick whipping of producer Sporting Life’s drum machine, part of which was “Canal, Canal” blaring out of the venue’s window. Eventually, the bouncer just let us all jolt up the stairs.
People were packed into an orange room decorated with spraypainted drawings of Bodega facades, old arcade machines and other classic New York scenery and artifacts. They stood on top of arcade machines in the back and jeered as Wiki, Hak and Sporting Life played a live rendition of their new album. A young saxophonist chimed in for a vibrant version of “Snow Beach,” making the night even more relaxing and sentimental.
In a video interview with Complex Magazine, Sporting Life aptly described their sound: “There’s certain parts of New York where you could just listen and know how many parts you need to put in a beat by just listening to the street. It’s like: Train, Conversation, Siren.” I can't think of a better reflection of this city than the packed, sweaty, and diverse show that I attended and the album that followed.
I went to another RATKING show towards the tail end of this summer, and it felt just as entertaining as the last. The trio had just arrived from across the pond and set up shop at lower Manhattan’s SOB’s, where many developing artist had performed prior to them.It was a memorable setting for their return because just a few months ago, they too had been developing on that very stage. It felt good to see that their underground hit “Snow Beach” hadn’t yet lost their luster over summer. I noticed some familiar faces in the crowd. There was Sporting Life, still whipping his drum while Wiki was still spitting those words .