Despite barely surpassing the legal drinking age, Wiki, Sport and Hak are quickly becoming three of the biggest names in underground hip-hop, winning the hearts of both old and new school fans alike. Their chilled vibe and personal accessibility has a refreshing sincerity about it that makes them impossible to not fall in love with. The group’s producer Sporting Life recently took time to chat about the trio’s formation, their perspective on hip-hop in 2014 and addressing social issues through music.
How you doing man?
Yeah things are good man, we’re fresh off the tour and already in the Red Bull Studios recording something for a compilation we’re working on. We’ve been here for a couple of nights now and we’re about to try lay down one more verse before tightening things up a bit. I can’t really tell you much more beyond that though.
How was the tour?
It was cool man, we slept on a bus for like a month, which was interesting, but nu it was cool, we played like 20 shows in a short space of time.
Ratking already had a lot of momentum by the time you guys were finishing school, there doesn’t seem to have been much room for anything else. If you weren’t making music right now, what would you be doing?
Yeah you’re right, I guess that summer of 2011 is when we first started really recording and finding common artistic ground. I really don’t know what I’d be doing if not for this, probably working somewhere [laughs], or maybe like a fucking astronaut or some shit.
You guys have obviously gained a lot of attention for pushing genre boundaries and going against the grain of popular hip-hop right now, are you glad that people are putting you in that clause with other names like Death Grips and Trash Talk or just being able to maintain an underground vibe?
It’s nice just doing what actually resonates with you and if you believe in truth and good endings, it comes to life, but I’m happy that hip-hop is in the place it is right now to be honest. I’m happy that Young Thug, Gucci Mane and all these guys are pushing hip-hop to new levels, and obviously we’re at a point now where technology is allowing producers to do so much more than they could in the past.
So you’re down dudes that aren’t necessarily the greatest lyricists, but still notch up 10 million hits on YouTube. A lot of people must have misinterpreted your ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ reference [So It Goes]?
Yeah I think hip-hop is in a really good place at the moment. I mean I put Gucci Mane in my top rappers right now, I think he’s amazing, when you listen to music for a long period of time, you forget how much work it takes to record a song, let alone a body of work like he has. Obviously a lot of hip-hop fans that are stuck in the 90’s have beef, I don’t know, to me it’s like, before you start telling Lebron James what you think about his basketball, first of all, you have to appreciate what’s actually going on and how much time has gone into it, that’s all work. You can’t really deny that Gucci’s beats are banging, Gucci Mane, French Montana, those are all really big influences on us. French Montana’s the same, I mean you can get influenced to different degrees depending on your proximity to those things artistically but all of it goes in as an influence you know. Dr. Dre’s production was one of my greatest influences growing up, all those albums like Doggystyle, or The Firm, everybody really.
Who would you guys love to work with right now then?
Hmmm, I’m really into Makonnen (ILoveMakonnen) and Panda Bear. I’m really into this London producer named Actress too, people that can do things that I don’t already know how to do yet. Actress is ill, Zomby is also a consistent source of creativity for me.
A lot of your lyrics are derived from social and political issues; ‘Remove Ya’ is a clear example and is so relevant right now following on from the deaths of both Michael Brown and Eric Garner respectively, do you think that things are really coming to a breaking point and next time something like this happens it’s gonna get real heavy?
It’s hard, I mean, I think people are becoming more intelligent now, and realising that there’s better ways to do things than going out and breaking shit. I think that there’s definitely a feeling that something needs to be change, but, I don’t know, I’d like to think that people are smarter than that and realise that change can come from different places.
Do you think it’s important to keep making music like this?
I mean, we definitely didn’t go out to write anarchist lyrics that would insight violence or anything like that, we just try to make music that resonates with us and ‘Remove Ya’ is a typical example of something that resonated with us. Like that intro sample, that shit’s real.
How was the Nigo for adidas shoot?
Yeah man it was tight, I mean it’s hard to do something like that without coming off as cheesy, but I think we managed to pull it off, and it was obviously a huge blessing to be put in the same vein as guys like Run-D.M.C. and Beastie Boys. We had a lot of fun doing it actually.
Is this your first time down in Australia?
Yeah it is, it should be fun man, I’m excited, I don’t quite know the details about where we’re heading but I’m excited to check it out.
Ratking play The Basement in Sydney, January 29 and Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne, February 5. Get tickets here.