Ratking are an excellent hip-hop trio from New York who made massive waves in 2014 with So It Goes, an astounding album that was reminiscent of old-school rap but had enough personality to be original as well. Currently consisting of two rappers(Wiki and Hak) and one producer(Sporting Life), they are most notable for being lush with what made hip-hop so memorable in the glory days of the genre. Scratches, heavy drum beats, and classic samples that all equal out to an homage to what has disappeared to out-of-control sampling and electronic beats that are sometimes too fake or sugary to feel real. 700 Fill continues this trend of sounding more like a contemporary artist in the genre, but the hooks are missing to make this album worthwhile.
All of the things that made So It Goes such a refreshing record in the genre seem to disappear with 700 Fill. The rap flow is still solid as ever; Wiki and Hak are excellent whenever they decide to turn up the pace or come up with a catchy chorus to groove to. This record, however, has very few of those moments. Of the nine total tracks, only a third have a real hook or catchy chorus to seam the track together cohesively. “American Gods” kicks off the album drenched in old vibes, speaking toward being from a previous era and an East Coast beat that could have easily arrived in a time machine from two decades ago. The next six tracks are void of hooks or catchy verses to make the listener feel any emotion, though. Luckily the last two tracks make up for the lacking previous ones, but by then it was too easy to mentally check out from the experience.
The production is solid as whole, though, and all of the lyricism is easy to read based on the lowly mixed beats and clear emphasis on the verses. Themes of New York pride, status symbols such as clothing, and not knowing what you mean to important people all make sense for Ratking’s stature in the hip-hop genre. “American Gods” has an entertaining set of bars about relevance despite the beat being too flat. “Sticky Trap” is the most memorable by a mile, utilizing a newer style of beat with massive drum and bass presence. The track rides a theme of avoiding traps set by the police, and the second verse about undercover cops is the best 700 Fill has to offer. The closer is more of what people would expect from Ratking though. “Makeitwork” has the catchiest chorus of the lot and would fit on So It Goes with relative ease. The mixture of bass and electronics are perfectly measured, even if the fills feel a bit random from beginning to end.
700 Fill feels more like a placeholder album to let people know that Ratking are still here. Which would make sense for the album being released for free on bittorrent, but one would still hope the tracks meant a bit more. Without catchy hooks and verses, Ratking do not quite carry enough personality to keep the interest factor up. That is not to say fans should be worried about a future album release, because it is likely there will be more care put into a label released album like So It Goes. 700 Fill is fine for a free album, but the quality of So It Goes is just not here.
1. American Gods(ft. Remy Banks, Teddy, and Slickyboy)
2. Arnold Palmer
4. Eternal Reveal
6. Lenape Lane(ft. Slickyboy)
7. Steep Tech(ft. Despot and Princess Nokia)
8. Sticky Trap