According to legend, a ‘rat king’ forms when a number of rats become entwined by their tails and get stuck together in a combination of blood, excrement and dirt. Don’t image-search it on Google.
This Ratking, however, are the rawest, most exciting new rap collective to come out of NYC this year. They describe themselves as sounding like Suicide meets Wu-Tang Clan, the illest of hip-hop with “some experimental shit” and a hardcore punk sound that’s battering when played live. Their voice is Patrick ‘Wiki’ Morales, an 18-year-old firecracker who sometimes spits like Eminem, sometimes like Yelawolf, but most often in a style that’s all his own. “Ratking to me is about not having to pick one side,” he tells Radar.
“It’s all our influences in something that works cohesively.” The group started when local producer Sporting Life stumbled upon Wiki performing to a transfixed crowd at his local park: “Young people, old people… all these people were stunned to the point where it was awkward because of what he was doing,” he says. Now joined by Wiki’s long-time friend MC Hak and visual expert Ramon, together they’ve made a sit-up-and-fucking-listen seven-track EP, developed from Wiki’s solo EP ‘Wiki93’, which was originally released online earlier this year. “It’s about time Wiki speaks/It’s about time Wiki freaks”, he spits on mission statement ‘Wikispeaks’, summoning Jay-Z in 1996 and ODB in 1993. ‘Pretty Picture’, meanwhile, is all churning sirens and stabbing, jarring battle-cries.
This month sees Ratking making their UK debut, supporting Death Grips, before returning home to make their debut album. Jay-Z affiliate Young Guru is rumoured to be lined up to produce it, though nothing’s confirmed yet. “We just want it to be about putting the fashionable clothes down, working up a sweat and making something,” says Sporting, with Wiki in full agreement.
They say they’re here, basically, to make rap the most exciting thing in town again. And Ratking works as a name because? “Everything is tangled together,” says Wiki. “Back in the day a rat king was a sign of plague. It’s a fucked-up creature whose parts are dependent on each other – like us. It’s living. It’s taking over.”
Based: Harlem, New York City
For Fans Of: Death Grips, Odd Future
Buy It: The ‘Wiki93’ EP is out November 6 via Hot Charity
See Them Live: Ratking play London Birthdays on October 31, and support Death Grips at Bristol Fleece (November 5) and Manchester Sound Control (November 6)
Believe It Or Not: Wiki had a “Ramones phase” and has Cali punk band Germs’ motto ‘NO GOD’ as a tattoo