'700 Fill' is a reference to a North Face goose down jacket; hardly conventional, but then Ratking are hardly conventional.
Which is perhaps why the Brooklyn trio went full Thom Yorke and surprise released this via BitTorrent, albeit for free. Now, you could be forgiven for thinking this was a rabble of songs thrown together in a package just to be heard by the masses, but the nine track body of work has a cohesion that feels like a purposeful album.
Throughout the 38 minutes '700 Fill' draws heavily from the New York golden era of hip-hop, much like previous effort 'So It Goes' did. In true '90s rap fashion, there are some woefully bad hooks that provide little but padding – however, it's a nice throwback nonetheless.
But there's much more on offer than straight New York here. 'Sticky Trap' is the standout moment, built upon a HudMo-esque drum-track but without going the full beans and risking sounding totally out of place. While 'Bethel' is a screeching monster complete with pitched up sampled vocals, lashings of glittery production and tribal chanting.
Lyrically it's no 'Illmatic' but MCs Wiki and Hak bounce off each other so naturally they could be the same person. The duo have a tendency to put words out there as though they're thinking out loud: "can I make her fall in love with a few words?", they contemplate on 'Arnold Palmer'.
Couple that with the occasional studio chatter that appears at the front and back end of tracks, and there is an intimate and personal feel to '700 Fill' like you're in the booth with them – and that's what this effort does best. Catching the mood and a moment in time perfectly, '700 Fill' is something that can't be under-valued.
Words: Matthew Cooper
– – –
– – –