It’s a balmy November afternoon, and the vibrantly raw Manhattan rap collective—Patrick “Wiki” Morales, 19; “MC Hak” Hakeem Lewis, 18; and producer Eric “Sporting Life” Adiele, 31—is at a macrobiotic spot in Soho, crushing miso soups and avocado rolls. Ratking first got noticed with the video for “Wikispeaks,” a slow-simmer clip in which the crew clomps around the city in the cold while Wiki spits his smash-cut flow. That led to a deal with the illustrious XL Recordings, and now a debut album is in the works. And from what we’ve heard so far, it’s worth asking: Are they the pop-culture-polyglot smart-asses that’ll make the next great New York rap record? Young Guru, Jay-Z’s engineer, is on the boards, and, “DJ Dog Dick is definitely gonna be on there,” Eric promises. “He’s like the illest dude ever.” DJ Dog Dick also happens to be the landlord for their Bushwick practice space.
Wiki and Hak, friends since middle school, represent an instantly recognizable New York type. They’re both multiracial (Puerto Rican and Irish, and Black and Italian, respectively), with a history of prestigious schooling behind them (Brooklyn Friends for Wiki, the Putney School in Vermont for Hak). Wiki once had a joint birthday party with Julian Schnabel’s twin sons; they’ve partied at Meryl Streep’s house—“We were just bumping mad Dipset and freestyling,” Wiki says—and used to get high on the Sullivan Street stoop of “that chick from Miss Congeniality.” Eric, originally from Virginia, moved here to make music but says he’s always had a New York “state of mind.” Which is? “Not laughing at shit that isn’t funny!”