From Sky: A Response to Week Seventeen

“It runs through the neighborhood of Chinatown, and forms the sourthern boundaries of SoHo and Little Italy as well as the northern boundary of Tribeca. The street acts as a major connector between Jersey City, New Jersey, via the Holland Tunnel (I-78), and Brooklyn, New York City, via the Manhattan Bridge.”
– Canal Street (Manhattan), Wikipedia

When I first gathered that he was taking about Canal street, there are two cities that I thought of, New Orleans and NYC. Now, Ratking, who turns out to be more than just one guy, but rather a collective, certainly didn’t sound as if they were from the South, so it kind of narrowed it down to NYC (not to mention the video makes that pretty obvious). The two guys spitting, Wiki and Hak, really have interesting flows. At first I wasn’t too drawn to it, but I feel like it’s a grower.

Ratking

There’s a couple lines towards the end that really help to answer your question about where we are in the track. Now the surface level answer would be we known we’re in NYC based on the video, the title of the track, and lines about how they slice cold cuts, but I don’t think that’s what you are going for.

“Think the city has let up?
Yeah-ha wake up
Open your eyes
Wake up!”

On the bridge we have these lines telling us to wake up to the city and that is hasn’t let up. We’ll get to the meaning of that in a minute.

“Think the city has let up?
Better check up
Kids that is fed up Instead of
Bitching and moaning, the get bucked and get up”

Here in the outro we are again told that the city has in fact not let up. Well what does that mean? It could mean a couple things, first in terms of poverty and life in general. NYC’s crime level has famously dropped over the recent decades and Ratking could be saying that just because the crime levels have dropped doesn’t mean that people aren’t hustling and still on their grind. That there is still poverty in NYC and that kids are doing whatever they can to make them some money. Or it could be looked at in terms of hip hop. If it’s looked at in this light it means that the City’s hip hop artists are still out there trying to become big. With all the famous rappers that have come out on NYC in the past, Ratking is making it known that there are still up and coming rappers.

Ratking

But where are we? Well we’re from the outside looking in. Either we’re people who don’t live in NYC and who aren’t aware of the hustlin’ and grindin’ that are still going on, or we are New Yorkers who are oblivious to this side of their city. It’s easy to put on those rose tinted glasses and ignore the shittyness of your favorite place, or your home. Ratking is making sure that they, along with the rest of the NYC on their grind are not being ignored.

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From ‘Cole: A Response to Week Seventeen

“We’re no longer black/ we’re gold from here on out”
-Raz Simone

Raz Simone

The natural resources are, of course, the oppressed peoples, the black folk, those who (as Kanye astutely points out) were shipped over from Africa and now have slave owners’ names. They are the naturally resourceful resources, those who were used like things and moved like cattle but became like gods.

I have to say about Raz: I think he’d be really comfortable in the spoken word scene, because he raps like a spoken word artist. Lack of end rhyme sometimes, and the way he flows, it really just feels like he’s talking to you. Which is cool. Also, his subject matter is up there with the spoken word crowd, activistic.