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I’m Going to Take the High Road and Not make a UB40 Reference.

April 15, 2013

A few words about the following update. I received a string of emails from a friend of mine a few months back that sent me down a very bizarre rabbit hole. Since I moved to Indonesia I’d forgotten how wide of the mark some Irish hip hop artists are, but once my memory was jogged  by a random as fuck group email it became something that I felt needed to be written about, for reasons that were, and still are, unclear.

I started writing a pretty serious piece, which I ultimately scrapped because I was beginning to sound painfully self righteous, and there are more than enough self righteous bloggers without me adding to the indignant online clutter. And scrapped it remained until early last month. I decided to take my idea to the Cracked.com writers forum to see if I could knock some kind of structured article out of my list of cringe merchants. I also figured that with Paddy’s Day just around the corner I might even get it published if I could get a decent pitch together.

After a few days of researching my subjects, and doing myself some irreparable emotional damage in the process, sourcing reliable information about them, I put together a, if I do say so myself, a pretty impressive pitch, which got passed to editorial, who responded with indifference.

“Yerra, there’s a lot of good work gone into it, and it’s well written, but why are you picking on Ireland? Shur, there’s a whole world of terrible hip hop out there and you’d be doing the topic a disservice to restrict it to just Ireland.” Let’s just pretend the editor was from Kerry. The Kerryman had a point, but the article had to be completed. It’s taken a while, and hopefully it’s on the ball. For better or worse, probably for worse, this has been a labor of love.

All feedback is welcome through the usual channels.

C.

6 Hip Hop Artists from Ireland (And Their Questionable Presence in The Media.) Image

The first time my dad heard an Irish rap song he likened it to an angry gypsy challenging their cousin to a bare-knuckle boxing match, and in a lot cases the comparison holds true. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic Irish hip hop artists making some great music, however more often than not the good stuff gets ignored in favor of giving a bit of shine to the lunatic fringe. This article is going to be no different.

1)      The Documentary.

Hip hop hasn’t always enjoyed a successful transition from the boom box to the boob-tube. Sure, on the one hand you have documentaries like Scratch and Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, which tastefully depict hip hop culture at its rawest, and best. On the other however, shows like Flavor of Love and Run’s House show people that behind all the crack-smoking, hood-rat sweating, and jocking of one’s self, rappers can be awful cock-heads.

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The producers of the documentary Irish Rappers Revealed took their cue from Rev. Run an’ ‘em and followed the exploits of a bunch of up and coming Irish rappers………… away from the mic. The resulting show was picked up and aired by both R.T.E. and the B.B.C, and most likely taught the show’s subjects a valuable lesson in the inherent benefits of self awareness. Although both T.V. stations have stopped streaming the cockheadumentary on their websites, the guy behind it uploaded a rough cut of it to Youtube. Watch it, I’ll wait here and busy myself by reading Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s F.B.I. record.

Done? Good stuff. Now, if you were paying attention, which I’m sure were from behind a massive face-palm, you’ll have noticed that most of these cats ain’t exactly swaggin’ none, like. If you couldn’t bring yourself to watch beyond the scene twenty seconds in where the two O’Leary-Cill gangsters swear at a bunch of geriatrics in God’s waiting room, which looks curiously like a shithole pub, I’ll give you a quick run through the highlights.

After Live at purgatory the viewer is treated to a twenty-first birthday party in what appears to be yet another ropey public house, a roadside freestyle for a possible escaped mental patient, some sound motherly advice, and a performance worthy of a Grammy for Best Rap Performance While on Amphetamines. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, which culminates in a depressed rapper washing dishes in his girlfriend’s kitchen. Redzer bocht.

The documentary was universally panned, with both MTV and The Irish Times calling bullshit on the director for stitching up the participants, but stopping short of delivering a rep-crushing verbal beat down, which we can all agree was a missed opportunity. In fairness, the critics had a very good point, the producers did go out of their way to make all involved look like a bunch of thick cunts. However, if you’re willing to participate in a rap documentary being made by Mr. Drummond from Diff’rent Strokes and Kelly Osbourne’s Amish doppelganger, rightly or wrongly you’re going to end up looking like a massive dick-splash.

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2)      Publicity.

Nailerz is a hardcore rapper from Ireland’s gangland capital, Limerick. Unsurprisingly, the combination his immediate surroundings and his love of all things 2Pac have given his music a very uncompromising sound. It’s also given him the ability to fly, and the rather disconcerting habit of pulling cum-faces while shooting toy guns at Christ knows what. Yeah, auld Nailerz is pretty far out there

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The Simpsons buffs amongst you probably remember the episode where Homer endeavors to build a BBQ pit in his back yard. Predictably, he makes a dogs dinner of it, however a passing art dealer sees his aborted effort at masonry and, much to Homers befuddlement, dubs it a masterpiece. She quickly explains to him that his badly bollixed BBQ pit is a perfect piece of outsider art, ie, art created by criminals, hill-billys, and head-cases. She gets Homer a gallery show which goes exactly as you’d expect a gallery show of Homer Simpsons banjaxed home improvements to go.  Homer and Marge snuggle, everything goes back to normal, all’s well that ends well, roll the credits.

Nailerz’ story is eerily similar. Replace the bald, jaundiced cartoon character with a gangster rapper from Stab-City, the mangled grill with Nailerz’ crudely crafted club bangers, and the art dealer with a pair of hipsters trying to be super fucking edgy by getting a lunatic from a the dodgiest estate in Limerick a rap gig in an art gallery man. Much like Homer, Nailerz’ gallery debut went to the wall with an almighty thump.The audience was revolted, with one spectator going so far as to call Nailerz, his crew, and their music offensive and immature, and vulgar and degrading to all human life, which, to be fair, is about the most insulting thing you can say about anything without using the word cuntarded

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The credits were yet to roll for Nailerz though. The art gallery fiasco caught the attention of Ireland’s biggest music rag, Hotpress, which deemed him worthy of a multiple page spreads in both their magazine and on their website. The journo assigned to write copy about the roughest rapper in Rimlick decided this article was something to be handled with the same type of po-faced seriousness usually reserved for the likes of Morrissey, or Christy Dignam’s smack habit. The misunderstood outsider artist from the armpit of urban Ireland was potentially the music story of the decade. It was not a cynical attempt to be super fucking edgy by interviewing a header from the dodgiest estate in Limerick about rapping. For serious.

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Nalierz used this opportunity to wax lyrical about stabbing people in the arse (with knives, not his cock thankfully), hash, and how his secondary school headmaster is an ardent supporter of his rap career. As one tends to. Now, although neither Hotpress nor the journo who wrote the story are known for writing tongue in cheek articles, it’s also possible that they were trying to get a cheap laugh at the expense of the fella from the council estate that makes mental rap tunes, and nobody got the joke. Regardless of their intentions, everyone involved came out of it looking just a little bit more cuntarded.

3)      Coz I Write Like Shakespeare.

Donegal rapper Capulet is a fly muthafucker. He is the living embodiment of every possible misinterpretation of hip hop music pumped full of P.E.D.’s, anabolic growth hormones, and Creatine glazed goat placenta. Regular humans are composed mostly of water, but it’s not the realms of scientific possibility that dude is composed almost entirely freshly squeezed of douche-juice. I’m not going to talk about his music. There are two reasons for this:

1)      It doesn’t really warrant talking about.

2)      This photo should tell you everything you could ever want to know about what his music sounds like.

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However, if you feel the need to hear a man who is quite adamant that he is not from Judea rap about wrapping girls in tortillas, I’m not going to stop you. I’ll even help by asking that you turn your attention to the video embedded below this paragraph. It’s best listened to with the sound muted and the theme song to the Benny Hill Show playing.

Having watched the video for Special Branch (feat: Argonaut & some bird with a nose ring, who must feel like a bit of a spare prick for singing along while the two lads dry hump prostitutes in a swimming pool) a few things should be immediately evident. Firstly, slapping some footage of the Caribbean on to the start of a home movie doesn’t disguise the fact that you’re in Santa Ponsa. Secondly, Capulet looks like he’s juicing, which makes the metaphor in the first paragraph that bit more satisfying. And thirdly, if Capleezy went to an international rugby match there’s a very good chance that he’d be a Full Kit Wanker, scrum cap and all.

As mental as the promo for Special Branch (feat: Argonaut & M$. Low$elfE$teem) is, and by Christ ‘tis a quare wan, it pales in comparison to some of his other shorts. A cursory glance through his video catalogue contains more what-the-fuck-did-I-just-witness moments than you can shake a very big stick at. This makes his Youtube page either the best or the worst thing on the internet, depending on how you feel about zombie republicans, shanking’s, and jumping out from behind bushes like a rapist. Once again, it’s advised you watch these videos on mute with the Benny Hill theme song playing.

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Probably not the weirdest but defiantly the most random thing about Capulet is his moniker. That he chose to name himself after a character from Shakespeare’s tale of ill-fated jail bait is not a decision you’d expect from a guy who probably plans to buy a diamond encrusted something or other as soon as he gets the rap game in a choke hold. The type of people who usually insist that you address them using the name of a character from a Shakespearian tragedy are either teenage Goths (do they still exist?) or middle-age men with personality disorders, and although both groups would probably overlap with Irish rappers on a Venn Diagram, a rapper going down that particular avenue of pseudo-names is a bit out of left field, to say the very least.

Shakespearian tragedies are heavy, depressing affairs, full of conspiracy, violent plots, and madness afflicted protagonists. If you’re going to take your rap handle from one, you’d better have seen some shit. I’m talking your father being wrongly imprisoned (and eventually exonerated to the tune of a few million quid), and subsequently getting stabbed thirty times and dying not once but twice on the operating table………………Huh…………….Fair enough then…………………Em……………. At least the Irish 50 Cent is giving something back to the community.

4) La Di Da Di.

If call yourself a hip hop head and don’t recognize the title of this entry kill yourself, preferably via one of the methods mentioned in the Gravediggaz song 1800-Sucide, but before you go confront an alligator and let it eat you raw finish reading this article, obviously. Also, it’d probably worth your while to listen to the song linked above my obvious distain for you.

Ricky D, or Slick Rick as he’s more commonly known, is one of hip hop music’s most celebrated artists. His 1988 debut album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, is highly thought of by anyone who likes that rap shit and is over thirty years of age, or it at least should be. Granted, there are some duds on there (A Teenage Love, I’m looking in your direction), but The Rulers panty-dropping flow and pitch perfect narrative rhymes put it firmly in the upper echelons of old school hip hop long players.

No better example of how to tell a story through the medium of mic stranglin’ exists than The Great Adventures…… lead single, Children’s Story. The song tells the story of a kid who gets in with the wrong crowd, does some dirt, and ends up getting killed in a shootout with the fuzz.  Even though the beat and the video are as goofy as Goofy goofing off on goof-balls while Mickey Mouse admonishes him for drug use (it was the eighties, what do you really expect?), it’s a pretty stark tale of the consequences of messing with guns.

Unfortunately for Rick, he lacked the wherewithal to heed his own advice and shot a bunch of folks, one of whom was his cousin. Even more unfortunately he was charged and convicted of attempted murder, and spent five years in jail being subjected to the things that slick young men who wear Gucci jocks and have poor peripheral vision are subjected to in jail. The irony of the episode wasn’t lost on him, and since his release in the mid-nineties he’s abstained from shooting members of his extended family.

Of all the people I expected to have a gripe with this article, Slick Rick was at the very bottom of the list

Of all the people I expected to have a gripe with this article, Slick Rick was at the very bottom of the list

Around the same time that Slick Rick was spitting La Di Da Di, in Ireland a young DJ named Gerry Ryan was taking his first tentative steps towards fame.  Much like Slick Rick, Gerry Ryan came out kicking the ill raps. As part of the super group Gramblaster Flash, G-Ryzzy blessed the track Birthday with the type of word play and buttery flow hitherto unseen in Ireland, or anywhere else for that matter.

(Birthday by Gramblaster Flash courtesy of Jeremy Murphy – Check out his mixes, they’re fire.)

Much like Slick Rick’s bars on La Di Da Di, Gerry Ryan’s party rhymes on Birthday catapulted him into the national consciousness. Ever the hustler, Gerry used his new found notoriety as THE premier emcee in Ireland as an opportunity to build on his broadcasting career, and soon found himself presenting prime-time shows on national radio. The young buck from the ghettoes of Dublin 4 was a broadcasting sensation, dominating the 25-40 year old morning drive time demographic like it weren’t no thang.

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By the time the late eighties rolled around Gerry was a mainstay on the wireless, but he was pining for the heady days of ill beats and freestyle ciphers that shaped the early days of his career. The tipping point came not long after hip hop legend DJ Wicked Willy, along with most of the original line up of Gramblaster Flash, forever altered the urban music landscape with his seminal anti-rape anthem What Did I Do Wrong? The time was right for The Ryaner make his comeback. He jumped back into the vocal booth, and recorded what is seen by many as the one of the greatest socially conscious rap records of all time, the very-much-on-par-with-Children’s Story-banger, Natural High.

Unfortunately for Gerry, he lacked the wherewithal to heed his own advice and developed a bit of a marching powder habit, and eventually suffered a honk induced banger. The irony of the episode was completely lost on him, because he died………………….Grim.

So, there you have it, Gerry Ryan was the Irish Slick Rick, eh, kind of.

5)      Big Brother Beat

If Big Brother is trash television, and it most certainly is, then Big Brother contestants are trash by default. I’m sure some sections of society, probably made up of those people who wear their pajamas to the dole office and smoke Superkings coz dere pure longer, like, who think that a bunch of attention seeking wankers bitching at each other is enthralling television. Those sections of society need to be exterminated with extreme prejudice, blunt force trauma, and fire, copious amounts of fire. Digressions, and hate boners for utter sucks, aside, Big Brother contestants are, more often than not, sentient fecal matter.

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The Irish contestants, to fair to them, aren’t all attention seeking douchebags, some of them are just attention seeking weirdo’s. There was the lesbian ex-nun form the first series, Anna Nolan; the psychic white witch, Mary O’Leary, that appeared in something called Ultimate Big Brother; the young fella who could probably do a mean impression of Marc McCabe’s Maniac 2000, Glenn “Spiral” Coroner. Like all reality television stars eventually do, all of the above have drifted into total obscurity.

Nolan, O’Leary, and all the other brain-dead lepers fifteen minutes fizzled out as gracefully as something that lost to Jade Goodey can, with the former housemates popping up on increasingly worse TV shows, until they found themselves presenting Bangladeshi Bang Babes before deciding to call it a day, probably. Spiral went against the grain, and as someone whose name is Coroner is destined to do he made a ham-fisted attempt at a rap career. Which ended badly. Obviously.

bb7_2006_spiral_main

Like everybody else on this list Spiral was a victim of his own poor judgment. He had produced one song prior to entering the BB House, which sounded like someone took the instrumental from Dr. Dre’s The Watcher, remixed it so it would sound good in a seedy karaoke bar in South East Asia, and let a little autistic chap rap monotone about a guy whose wife is on the game writing his name in urine, which is actually gully as fuck to be fair.

Big Brother’s producers saw their opportunity for a car-crash promo and shelled out for Spiral to make a video for a new track called So Sexy. The crafty bastards. So, Spiral, looking not dissimilar to a white version of Bubbles from The Wire, if he came into a bit of cash and spent it on a new tracksuit instead of smack, shoots sultry stares, makes shapes with spastic hands, and spits super-seductive sex stanza’s while second rate slags from The Sun squirm suggestively in spangled spandex.  It’s equal parts horrible and compelling viewing, which you have to assume is exactly what Big Brother wanted.

In 2013 reality television stars are actual “stars” despite having no tangible talent, redeeming features, or self awareness. For some fucking reason people like Paulie D from Jersey Shore are allowed to play DJ gigs to crowds of thousands of people, and get paid obnoxious sums of money to do so. Trying to pinpoint the moment in time when humans as a race became collectively stupid is a whole other article, and probably left in more capable hands than mine, but evolution dropped the ball badly at some stage in the last few years.

Unfortunately for Spiral, his moment in the spotlight came in 2006, when people treated culture-jacking Z-List celebrities with lashings, and lashings of unrestrained scorn. After a receiving a heart-warming rendition of “Spiral is a Wanker” from a large section of the crowd while watching, not performing at, a concert, and losing the rag at an underground gig after getting wound up by a bunch of blokes who’ve probably jerked off to an Immortal Technique album at some point in their lives, Spiral decided to call time on his protracted public humiliation.

I feel kind of bad for him to be honest with you, not bad enough to not poke fun at him mind, but getting abused by a the type of dudes who get heated over the possibility of a dim as fuck Big Brother contestant getting mistaken for a representation of hip hop music is about as close to rock bottom, in hip hop terms at least, as a person can reasonably sink to without giving spare-change blowjobs to heroin addicts behind a twenty-four hour Toppaz garage in north Dublin just so someone will call you by your MC name and give you money.

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6)      Mr. Rockefeller

Tom O’C was a man with a successful data storage start-up, a now defunct clubbing website, and quite a lot of disposable income, apparently. Tom O’C was totes white-fucking-hot, babes. Tom O’C had reached Gordon Geko status, both financially and as an influence on the clubbing scene (citation needed). Tom O’C was pushin’ a Benz, and had gaggles of glow-stick gripping gurners gossiping about gammy trance and garage gigs, gnyeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…………Despite not having a bulls notion about hip hop, Tom O’C decided to branch into the hip hop market anyway. Nothing could have possibly gone pear shaped.

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Our man with the master plan bought the domain name hiphop.ie (it just went back up for sale, by the way) and began using it to promote club nights. Things were poppin’ off for Tom O’C. His hip hop night was attracting throngs of people in bad shirts and ill-fitting miniskirts who drank shitloads of blue Wicked and made uncoordinated efforts to dance like de black lads on de telly. Truth be told, it was less a hip hop night and more a vodka and splash cattle mart sound-tracked by Nelly and Ja Rule instead of whatever it was that the paralytic first year college students and apprentice hair dressers of the day usually got down to. Tom O’C was stacking major chips off the back of his hiphop.ie venture.

Exactly what happened next is open for debate.  One theory is that Tom O’C got a bit carried away with the whole idea of being an entrepreneur-cum-rap-mogul, recorded an achingly bad auto-tuned sensitive-thug ballad, put it up on the internet, watched on in horror as it went viral, and responded to the unrelenting ridicule by denying any involvement. The other theory, put forward by Tom O’C himself, admittedly, was that some foo’s, either business competitors or cyber-bullies, were sippin’ too much Haterade and the whole thing was a nasty act of character assassination. ‘Cause haters be hatin’.

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After a short spell of everyone on the internet laughing at Tom O’C, he went the way of all memes and was replaced by something even more ridiculous. A sensible person would have returned to their lucrative data back-up business and drawn a line under the whole episode. It should go without saying at this point that Tom O’C was in for some more hardcore pwning.

Despite going to inhuman lengths to remove every trace of the song and video credited to him from the internet, Tom O’C persisted in trying to blow up on the hip hop tip. For some reason beyond all logic, he applied for a DJ gig on 2FM, which you should know at this stage has a track record of blooding up and coming rappers. Maybe he thought his web infamy would offer him sufficient clout to be taken seriously as a hip hop DJ on a national radio station. Who knows?

Exactly what happened next is once again open to debate. One theory is that Tom O’C decided to Facebook message a DJ mid set and ask for a gig and was rather unceremoniously told to go fuck himself. The other theory,  put forward by Tom O’C himself, admittedly, was that he went through the appropriate channels and go fuck yourself was an official response from R.T.E. Whatever the case, when it comes to Irish people dabbling in hip hop, some people just don’t know when it’s time to cut their losses and step away from the table.

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And if every one of those people got viciously torn apart on the Encyclopedia Dramatica hip hop from Ireland might take some steps towards once and for all shaking off the stereo-type of  slightly simple, sociopathic shams that the media (shamefully, the Irish media in particular) is only too quick to unfairly apply to a whole subculture of musicians, artists, dancers, DJ’s, and emcees who break their balls to create something that countless people the world over hold very dearly: Hip Hop.

Recommended Listening:

MynameisjOhn

The Flying Buttresses

Spekulativ Fiktion 

The Expert and Danny Diggs

GI & Costello

Sammy Dozens

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    April 15, 2013 9:39 pm

    Haven’t laughed so much in a long time. Brilliant.

  2. Tony Soprano permalink
    April 16, 2013 12:23 am

    Can’t be bothered to read this as it’s about hip-hop which is shite from any country!

  3. napoleancomplexjakarta permalink*
    April 16, 2013 7:16 am

    Cheers Peter and Cr………Tony.

  4. monto permalink
    April 16, 2013 10:00 am

    This was a great laugh, had completely forgot about TOM OC

  5. Mark permalink
    April 22, 2013 8:46 pm

    Funny as always dude, keep it up!

    Markness

  6. napoleancomplexjakarta permalink*
    April 23, 2013 4:29 pm

    Cheers lads.

  7. June 21, 2013 12:18 pm

    Please remove the copyrighted picture of Slick Rick without his eyepatch. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. Thanks Ricktheruler.net

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