Wikispeaks has “our eyes glued open” — just like he said he would. Nearly six months ago rap fans were introduced to a new voice in New York’s resurgent homegrown hip-hop landscape when the 18-year-old Patrick “Wikispeaks” Morales burst onto the scene with his mixtape 1993 and a compelling video for the eponymous track from the project.
Apparently visuals are as important to Wiki and his RATKING collective as the music is. Their performances aren’t your run of the mill rap shows with shitty sound, emcees screaming into mics and pacing on stage. No, the RATKING experience is an amalgam of original artwork: music, illustrations, graffiti, photography, and paintings. This multimedia artistry was on full display on the night of Friday Aug. 17 when RATKING took over New York’s FB Gallery. Every inch of the narrow room was lined with portraits of RATKING members Hak94, Ramon, and Sporting Life, skateboarding (shot by Johnny Problems), and an installation of painted aluminum cans (above). The kicker was seeing “Street Fighter II” projected on another wall, played by a kid wearing a mask with glow in the dark eyelets.
Unlike his performance earlier this year at downtown Manhattan’s Santos Party House, Wiki didn’t end his show by “making it rain” with copies of RATKING’s Letter Racer zine thrown into the crowd. Yet the zine’s cut and paste collage style of quotables, created by his man Hak, did decorate the walls of the gallery.
RATKING’s DIY aesthetic, combined with their knowledge of NY art history has deeper meaning. Rammellzee coined the term “Letter Racers” for his other-worldly sculptures; the appropriation of the thought-provoking quotes is akin to what artist READ MORE does with his Operation Madman books, but not directly influenced.
Check out shots of the show and scans of the second edition of the Hak zine below. Keep your eyes peeled (not just your ears) for more RATKING creations coming soon.