RATKING play Parts & Labour Tuesday (February 12). See listings. Rating: NNNN
One of my favourite lyrics of 2012 was from Wikispeaks, a hard-breathing, underground 90s-reminiscent track by young NYC rapper Wiki. "Damn I feel like Jay-Z in 96 / Man I feel like ODB in 93 / Am I even an 04 Ye?" he raps, listing off some greats and their definitive years, drawing parallels but ending with self-effacement. Hip-hop is more than the relic of a block party in the Bronx, something I'm reminded of any time Kanye is called as formative an influence as Jay-Z.
The verbose, technically fit Wiki and his XL-signed crew, Ratking, could be called NYC classicists. Their sound is part Beasties brash outsider, part lissome-lipped Def Jux, with a mellow flamboyance culled from Camp Lo and Cam'Ron. Nostalgia is serving young rappers well right now. The best of them - A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar - contemporize a particular aesthetic, be it Texan screw or ATL blues. The hard drums and turnstile-hopping energy of Wiki93 hint at a resurgence of a particular cold-veined strain of rap for a new generation.
Top track: Wikispeaks