So It Goes, the debut album but second project from New York based collective Ratking. Three hip-hop engineers that make up the group, Wiki, Sporting Life, and Hak all use their street smarts and New York style to act as a congruent threat. The trio not only breaks down walls and barriers in music, but they make each song feel like a ceremony and a walk through New York’s busy but mostly lonesome streets.
So It Goes opens with “*,” a track that better explains Ratking’s musical direction and shows a better outlook into the producing ability from Sporting Life and both Wiki and Hak’s lyrical flow. Wiki opens the track spitting some bars about his future with Ratking and in life, “Graduated, what’s next? Everybody’s asking, what college you going to? What you have planned?” Wiki also delivers this “Dayyumm” which is the seguing motion into Hak’s first lines on So It Goes.
Hak floods the track with the bars “Dead man, one-man war. Teen years dead, bored to a snore.” Hak and Wiki’s verses are both explaining the future of Ratking, and how the two really got started in their younger years by rhyming. The beat produced by Sporting Life is a hard-hitting bass assault that continually changes over the course of the track. It also features a woman’s vocals that are highly distorted until the words sound like a million voices speaking at one time. This is going to be one of the highlights of So It Goes, the production not only sets the bar, but it crushes everything below it.
The next track, “Canal” is a busy, street-sprint that features booming 808 bass hits that seem to make the entire track rattle and bounce. The hi-hat trickles along with the beat and takes a back seat to the rest of the instrumental where a girl’s vocals can again be heard and what sounds like a crowd’s feverish chants. Wiki and Hak again trade blows on their verse and the entire track is a slug-fest, between the heavy-smacking instrumental to the lead filled verses.
The following, “Snow Beach” is a two-part track. The first or intro to the track is a dreamy, but still busy instrumental that features a boom-bap Eastern rap style that used both lyricists to repeat “20 degrees outside, toasted in the tunnel,” and “Chilling at the beach, Got sandals on my feet.” Then as the beat begins to take back the reigns, it leads into this outstanding instrumental that uses a snare crack and bumping bass. Wiki comes in and delivers some lyrics, “I used to shit on NYU kids, soused after dark.”
Then Hak and Wiki begin the hook where the lyrics “Every year another court date, every winter need a North Face for warmth sake on long days.” The ending of the track lets a saxophone played by Isaiah Barr, a fellow New Yorker, bleed out. His saxophone solo makes for one of the smoother ways to end a hip-hop song and is slightly reminiscent of a street performer who would be playing a saxophone until the late hours on the cold, winter streets of the sprawling city.
Following is “So Sick Stories, a track that features King Krule, an artist who was also featured on XL Recordings. Krule delivers the hook and is surprisingly one of the better sections of the track. Krule discusses a “Now do you see this? The way the grey controls only the souls that go to sleep to sink and dissolve. Are set adrift, in between the concrete and the mist. Just another inner city bliss.” Then after Krule delivers the opener, Wiki jumps in and delivers a verse that goes hand in hand with Krule’s hook. “My journals the, city it flows with the prettiest prose. Mixed with the gritty and gross.”
The instrumentation behind the lyrics uses different slamming bass pieces but also flutes and has an aspect of beauty to it. This also goes along with the hi-hats that vibrate and continually rattle throughout also add to the Beauty Vs. Ugliness that Ratking displays as a central theme of their music. They convey such a great amount of energy, but also make it seem effortless. They are artists that constantly blur the line between light and darkness, a beautiful landscape, and a desolate wasteland.
The next track is “Remove Ya” which uses police sirens and a sample from “The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy,” a YouTube video that explains exactly what happens if you are a “Fucking Mutt.” The track’s instrumental is rather loud and more of an in-your-face type of track that relies on Hak and Wiki’s quick bars to keep the momentum going. Wiki opens the track with the lines “I’m a mutt, you a mutt, yeah… we some mutts.” This then goes into Hak’s verse where he explains, “The boys in blue, never really liked ‘em…rubbed me rude.”
The outro of the track is the most impactful section of the track where a woman explains “N-Y-P-D, miny, moe, catch a black boy by his toe. Hang him, put him up for show. Take him down, keep up the role, Keep up the role. Oh, uncertain, who do you protect? I know it ain’t us, no, who are you serving? Who do you protect? You want to kill us.”
Ratking then moves onto the track “Eat,” a track that sounds more like a Sunday ride on the New York subway with all these different levels of distortion on vocals and a looping sound of a transit system. The track uses a similar style to “Snow Beach” but the instrumentation on “Eat” is more uplifting and feels more spiritual. Hak delivers the intro and the outro of “Eat,” a primarily lyrical journey that explains “Dropped out of high but remained a student. Not one for great speeches but I think I’ll say, unsown my mouth with words decayed. Knees sore walk off the pain, poets die and poems stray. No day at the beach hopefully.”
The self-titled track, “So It Goes” follows where Sporting Life, Wiki, and Hak all deliver one of their better group performances on So It Goes. The whole track is a multi-layered instrumental and lyrical driving track that features both lyricists destroying a beat that features some outrageously intense levels of energy. The whole song feels like being surrounded by New York’s busy city life, but still being able to focus on the finer beauty of the city itself. Hak explains “Eagles are our brothers, and flowers are our daughters,” only adding to the immense level of not just pride but also beauty for the place where Ratking resides.” The track then unfortunately ends but leads into an interesting experimental track that features one of the more interesting beats of So It Goes.
“Puerto Rican Judo” is a boom-bap New York beat that also features different off-beats and a dance style of tambourine that acts as the hi-hat of the track. At first glance, the track feels rather out of place, but after several listens, “Puerto Rican Judo” adds a new and different balance to the tracks. It makes the record feel more diverse and Wiki’s verse as well as Wavy Spice’s verses only add to the diversity that Ratking expresses in their music. Wiki and Spice go bar for bar and continually go off of each other’s chemistry creating this constant power struggle for the top of the track. “Puerto Rican Judo” then leads into “Protein” which is another banging track off So It Goes.
“Protein” is an instant jump into hot water from the track’s very frantic start. The beat is an indescribable run through the city streets of flashing lights and blasting noise. The hook of the track features Wiki rapping, “Protein hold me, against my will. I will get my time to kill, If I don’t get my thrill. My will’s to write a verse that’s ill enough to get you filled. Keep you strong, make sure you keep keeping on.” Then Hak delivers one of his strongest verses featuring bars about “Native nectar with the rats in the pen. Tokyo triggers, sans, gats and Benz, what teenage roughs ain’t got nut-nothing but a dream on the corner,” and “Teach ya what ya teacher didn’t taught ya. Didn’t learn to write in school.”
Following is the track “Bug Fights” which features the most booming bass of all the tracks on So It Goes. The instrumentation is the main centerfold of the track and takes total control from the lyricists as it constantly changes and adapts to their style. The vocal samples used along with the shifting hi-hat that switches up from triplets to sixteenth to then eighth notes only increases the varying level that Sporting Life displays as a producer.
The lyrical aspect of “Bug Fights” features a great outro from Wiki where he explains, “Don’t wear your honor like armor that shit will wear you down, don’t let what life taught you taunt you. Embrace it now, whether it’s drawing, recording, whatever makes you proud.” It was one of the better outros and even set of bars delivered from Wiki on So It Goes. The incredible level of energy that he brings to the verse only proves that he believes he was born to spit lyrics and destroy beats.
That leads So It Goes into the last of what it has to give, “Take” and “Cocoa ’88.” Take is an experimental style of track that relies on Salomon Faye to deliver the primary aspect of the verses while Hak and Wiki take a backseat and instead only act as hype men for the track. The track is interesting over all but unfortunately doesn’t feel as fleshed out or as well thought out as the other tracks present. The level of energy is there, but it just doesn’t feel like it was put to good use.
“Cocoa ‘88” however is another outstanding track that feels exactly like the rest of the tracks on So It Goes. This is not a terrible thing as the track follows the pattern of a powerful instrumental and even powerful verses that seemingly crush the beat. Wiki and Hak are some incredibly strong lyricists and are able to annihilate any time they come on a track. On “Cocoa ‘88” they trade verses and repeats the lines “Days work for days pay, smooth talkers find nothing to say. Days work for days pay, if wishes were horses beggars would sway. Days work for days pay, spit till there’s nothing left up in my brain. Days work for days pay, willing to listen not kick it for days.”
Ratking keeps the New York style and approaches So It Goes like they are going to war. The abrasive style and outright dangerous production and lyrical aspect of Ratking keeps New York always feeling fresh and overall interesting even as time continues on in the Big Apple.