Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Rap Round Up

Originally began as a comment on the All Ireland Poetry Slam Facebook, responding to Dublin rapper Inkredible, posting his latest urban rap recording to the page. 

Clicking Play: An Advisory Notice. Extremely explicit over 18 XXX rated adult language-content many will find inkredibly offensive. WARNING. Do not listen to a majority of these recordings if you are offended by ultra-aggressive and explicitly satirically toxic language in the contemporary urban form of battle-rap trash-talk. The subtle (and not so subtle) irony of which will be missed by those offended by extremely 'bad' language. 

If you will be offended, please chill out listening instead to this 2011 recording, by DJ Chester x The Lost Instrumentals (with scratch x poetry x vocal snippets). That, we are informed: 'has since been a work in progress every time I re-visit and desperately try to finish it. It started off as just an all-vinyl record instrumental quick mix of soulful beats by DJ Spinna, Sa-Ra, Chirm Son and The Strange Fruit Project. However, after listening to it several times, I decided to add some spice by layering it with scratches, vocals samples, song samples and finally some poetry lines by Common, Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill from Def Poetry Jam. So here’s my experimental attempt at doing a mix with a laid back vibe but sounds different from my other mixes.' Enjoy. 


OFFENSIVE WARNING language-content in the linked recordings that may be found distasteful. Please do not listen if you are radically offended by XXX trash-battle rap-talk.


This is the recording I find most creatively perfected and realised of the Dublin rapper Inkredible's chunes. A current high-viewed recording from the wholly underground Irish urban rap scene, and a genre of rhythmic poetry that i must admit - more of an ancient bardic poetry buff than contemporary urban Irish rap and hip-hop aficionado - this kind of linguistic material is not top of my list of personally most sought out or most loved literary lyrical and spoken forms or contemporary globally popular poetic genres. 

This one however, They Can't Handle Us, (imo) exhibits a flow that is linguistically impressive because it exhibits a sheer authentic lyrical brilliance, that, tho many will find offensive, i suppose because i witnessed it first ten years ago when Inkredible was a teenager starting out, i admit to being able to purposely hear, 'snatch out of the passionate transitory', and articulate, the artistically positive air that can be drawn from a dispassionate critical assessment of its language.

Combo after combo kicks creative ass and lays down a high bar on the Irish urban rap genre and scene, with its own modes, mores, technical terms, feuds, rap battles and language; populated by rhymers spitting bars created by the gritty urban Irish experience.

And tho i knew next to nothing of the scene before researching it for this piece, there are plenty of Irish hip-hop practitioners and urban rappers out there.

I have come across before in Dublin at poetry events the very talented Finglas rapper Temper-Mental MissElayneous, aka the poet Elayne Harrington, but only now researching this piece, the sheer number of other Dublin rappers that make up a thriving underground Irish urban hip-hop rap scene that seems poised for a greater global awareness. From what I can gather, mirroring its American source, Irish urban rap has its own creative feuds, the BBC reporting in 2012, at the time a BBC3 documentary by contemporary documentarian, Ronan McCloskey, on the new Irish urban rap and hip-hop scene, was first broadcast on BBC and RTE:
The Working Class Army see rap as a means of spreading a social message and are prepared to forgo commercial success and give their music away for free. The Class A'z however are rapping with the intention of making money. This has caused a public feud between the two groups.

There was also an Irish Rappers documentary on the (2012) RTE series, Reality Bites, exploring the verbally extreme creative contention between these two groups of Dublin rappers:

The feud between the Dublin rappers is explored within the film as is the rap battle scene made famous by the Eminem film 8 Mile. Like in America, Irish rappers also attempt to settle their differences by having rap battles in underground clubs which are judged by their peers. The threats and insults traded by rival rappers at these events almost have to be seen to be believed and whilst the footage may seem more reminiscent of an illegal fight club, actual violence is rare.

With handles from the various Dublin camps such as Costello, Equalizer, Funzo, GI, Lethal Dialect, Nucentz, Nugget, Siyo, Terrawrizt, and many more from across the Irish urban rap and hip-hop spectrum of talent and experience that I am unaware of to name. At all level of linguistic creative ability and exhibiting all manner of rap and hip-hop influence. 

There's one of Limerick's (and Ireland's) current hottest young rappers (his first DIY youtube rap recording, at a bus stop, released eight months ago, has over 1 million views on just one account, and his one year old fb page 193,000 likes) Lynchy

There's Cork outfit, Rebel Faction, Sligo-London's Ahren-B; and another Sligo hip-hop trio, that I chanced across one weekend doing a gig in the vibrant grass-roots music venue, the Sweeney Mongrel pub, on Dublin's Dame Street; This Side Up, and remember being very impressed by their positive lyrical flow. And I think the only Irish hip-hop outfit I have actually seen live outside of an open mic rap-battle.

And  adding to that another of Ireland's hottest hip-hop rappers, that I had not heard of before researching the piece, Waterford's MC Pat Flynn, whose ten month old youtube audio recording, Get on Your Kneez, accounts for half of the four million views of the seventy youtube recordings on the ten month old Irish Rap Movement Youtube Channel, that has 20,000 subscribers.

And also, Wexford's Rob Kelly

Whilst, a quick search reveals, in the North, there's Belfast's JunTzu; and North West, Derry's Wileman, rapping over more laid-back and chilled out snoop-dog beats, a coruscating contemporary commentary of cultural alienation.


All this is new to me, and there are no doubt plenty of urban Irish rappers I am not aware of that would also slot seamlessly into this brief synopsis of what I have learnt in a few hours online. 

And this is only the white Irish contingent.

I have witnessed plenty of talented Afro-Irish rappers and poets, including this South African rapper who was always at Write and Recite, JoJo, who unlike the urban Irish rappers, rapped in the name of Jesus Christ, with a beautifully simple and positive message of Love. This was his signature piece, African Queen, along with Does God Exist

And from this I discover Dublin rapper, Rejjie Snow, with two albums released, 37.4 K Twitter followers, close to a million views on his two year old track, Lost in Empathy; and half a million views on his latest two month old release, All Around the World. I read online that this very academically successful intellectual and talented athletic thespian, dropped out after his first year in an American university, to return to Ireland and pursue his urban musical Irish hip-hop and lyrical rap recording dream. 


Whilst in the Irish language there's a godfather of the urban Gaeilgeoirí genre, the brilliantly committed and fully believing adherent to the filidh curriculum faith and priestly druidic code of coimgne, Gearóid Mac Lochlainn; along with the unclassifiable, young transcendental Kerry, Listowel poet, and All Ireland Slam Champion 2011/12, Séamus Barra Ó Súilleabháin.

Tho i must confess that the ultra-aggressive and hyper-competitive male poetic language in most of what I have linked to, with a few notable exceptions, is off-putting and not at all my own favourite cuppa, in this urban rap and black American derived poetic form; it is only now researching this piece, that I have become aware of just how fully primed and poised for potential global success the currently huge underground buzz of Irish urban rap and hip-hop poetry actually is. 

And tho we do not have to like or practice it as a compositional form ourselves, it is foolish, once becoming aware of the buzz surrounding it, not to acknowledge Irish urban rap and hip-hop as a globally popular form. In terms of the audience for, and interest in, Irish rappers, it dwarfs that for the average mainstream Irish page and spoken word rhymers.


But i remember first coming across Inkredible's piece, They Can't Handle Us, and being intellectually impressed with not only the creativity of the battle rhyming, and clear passionate love of language, however satirically toxic, but the quality and inventiveness of the recording. 

A shoestring budget that looks classier than the outlay would suggest. With a great mix and use of musical sound and verbal irony - 'we're from the place where track-suits are the fashion' - that exhibits the person making it, is not a novice on the fruity loops but a seasoned veteran of this wholly nu contemporary poetic DIY urban Irish battle rap and hip-hop genre he has been plodding away at the cutting edge and forefront of since 2004/5.

I remember Mr Inkredible, as he was then known, first turning up to the weekly poetry open-mic in Brogans at the start of the Write and Recite (2004-8) WaR at the height of the Celtic Tiger bubble, a precociously talented teenager, with no paper, reciting from the 'dome' as i first heard Raven Aflakete put it. And i remember thinking this kid is gonna be either very good, or very shit. Just a huge and confident presence.

And he blew the room away. One of the most memorable nights i recall there. And then the busking with an artist, who, because of their long-bearded appearance attracted the moniker, 'God' (aka mike), who had that unique gift of genuinely spontaneous flow, imbas forosnai, and with the unacknowledged godfather of spontaneous contemporary Dublin spoken word, Noel Sweeney, (plying now his rhymes elsewhere), whose unique hip-hop style he picked up cutting his live teeth in 1990s Brixton rasta sessions and south London shabeens, influenced, was imitated and appropriated wholesale, by some of today's most lauded and supported Irish spoken-word stars, during the whole mad swirl of noughties poetry in bubbalin Dubalin tune. 

I was with Inkredible and Mike aka 'God', the very first time any of us busked, or maybe the second or third occasion for them. And, stood as a trio, shoulder to shoulder, on the sidewalk, we all took turns doing our own thing in front of our continually passing audience, tide of pedestrians and potential momentary patrons, opposite the statue of a seated couple and bike-lock frames outside the then fish tackle shop, Rory's, in Temple bar, at the height of the Celtic Tiger's economic bubble

And i was only doing it for the craic, an old geeza with the young bucks. And mid-flow when we got the first quid in the hat, there was an inward joyful leap and laughter as the other two younger rhymers tried to mask the disappointment of not being the first to earn a rhyme on the street. Coming second to an oldsta with wafty lofty poems of faeries and the sidhe, gerrin the first financial gift tossed in a hat on the pavement in front of us. Yeah, that was the only time i bothered, having busked live poetry once, just for the sheer feck of it.

But we did used also to bang out live poetry in public on the streets; every few weeks at the Temple Bar Square Speakers' Corner that was there every Sunday afternoon for a couple of years. Anyone could and did get up and rant. 

From the roaring street alcoholics gleefully shouting to themselves, to passionate and concerned intellectuals learning on the stump. It was a great way of overcoming stage-fright, just lashing it out as loud as you can in the very heart of Dublin city-centre, and something I would personally recommend to any newbie in the live literary thicket and poetry wood of the aul Fur Shitty / Fair City, with its ever evolving poetic beat and always morphing cultural buzz.

Because, slowly, shedding any live performance anxiety and poetic inhibitions, getting metaphorically as naked as one can be as a public rhymer, it is a great way to learn, for free, and at a very high-level of urban poetry professionalism. 

Ready to rhyme anytime at all at the drop of a plastic bag on the sidewalk and into which a few coins would flow from passers by getting the sheer artistry and human theatre of what is occurring in front of them, passing by and mere random souls sailing down life's river to our destination and return home to the warm and loving spiritual reunion with sidhe of the shee of Her, faery woman of Ireland, bean sí, cuisle mo chroi, pulse of every living breath and heart-beat with which Her hand guides our own lives as entertaining and eloquent public speakers rhyming and timing, earning the right to be heard by our act and process of continual experience speaking live Her poetry and spoken song.

Tho we parted ways after our first performance as a trio of busking rhymers, Inkredible and 'God' stuck at it and within a short time had really took off as a double act, learning lessons only a very few talented talkers are lucky, creatively daring, or positively mad enough to ever give a go, literally, by busking spontaneous rhymes on the streets of bubbalin Dubalin town. Not many doing it then, i recall, just us poetically filled linguistic nutbags.

Good old days, and Inkredible still in his twenties. And a wicked hooky beat to it, They Can't Handle Us, bouncy, peroppa woppa; and the very last thing the polite spoken word sets of bubbalin dubalin tewn wud invite to recite at the very tastefully and officially approved of do's custoded by the crazee fukas that say fuk a lot and peroppa woppa and deadly and love it and all that shallow shit we luurv baby.

'. with an I and a N and a C and a REDIBLE, yu'd betta wotch up it's Mister Inkredible: 'original, traditional, indigenous, i'm original, clinically clinical, individual, no principles, invincible missile-pistol, i cripple little artificial spittle, i'm international, an actual land mammal cannibal with mandible, adaptable animal, my pallet does spit flammable, i'm untrackable, yeah you're trackable, we're not compatible, you're flow's collapsible, mine's impassable, like impossible obstacles on top of all you popsicles, i'm logically logical, philosophical chronicle, yeah..' .. very verbally inventive. imo.

But this one, that the above flow appears in, yeah, tho the only bruv of five girls, i am not at all a fan of the misogynist terminology (very anti- it indeed), i think, that, unlike some of the more scankier Inkredible stuff, it just about gets away with it, (imo), considering the gritty, sweary and working-class language of its inner-city urban rap form. 

A cheeky brilliance, cocky yet comedic, and a wholly authentically genuine contemporary Dublin working-class note struck; and, above all, proof in the pudding - thousands and thousands of people watching and liking it across the world. And which will bring - especially in the ultra-competitive genre Inkredible is a success in - a lot of negative energies from fellow ultra-competitive urban rappers sporting and competing with one another in this form.

That, as has been noted, is not everywuns cuppa poison. But as Amergin in the Cauldron of Poesy text, only first translated into English in 1979 (by late (2011) Galwegian academic P. L. Henry) - and used, along with many other texts, including core text (first published in English translation in 1917) Auraicept na n-Éces / Scholars Primer puts it - instructing forty generations of literary filidh/poets of Ireland since the dawn of the written word - during the druidic/bardic crossover, from a wholly oral reality, to the birth of post-Ogham page/stage reality, in the 7C Old Irish vernacular written language: one of the four human sorrows is 'jealousy', and one of the corresponding four human Joys of poetry is 'the joy of health untroubled in the abundance of goading one receives when they take up the prosperity of bardcraft.' 

Good luck, s/he god creation and the unknowable order of unconscious chune - bless our souls with song and our hearts with love. May we all live forever and never grow up, old, or lose the flow of what it is we're here for as poatz and Her earthly loving servants ov tha peroppa woppa wurda singing n spittin chewns from tha royal boozaliars ov bubbalin tune. slainte.

I posted They Can't Handle Us to Poetry Ireland's now extinct FB group page during the two week long conversational kerfuffle and community consultation process i initiated by directly bringing to wider attention the one-message 'community extinction notice' that had been buried under a daily diet of scores of ditties and doggerel posted from all over the world.

A one-message only group-notice of its deletion/shut down, that all but me seemed unaware was going to occur; as it had been served only once and without any real notice, as it was not pinned to the top but buried immediately after ten minutes beneath the waves of individually published texts of all quality across the board, from shameless happy doggerel to world-class lines of brilliant poetry. And (i was the only one to point out) the 3000 members with less sharp poetic faculties harmlessly spamming our ditties and doggerel, would wake up and feel very intellectually cheated on the allotted day to find our 'community' no more.

Made extinct with a click of the mouse, as the result of a unilateral decision made by an incoming team of unknown faceless art bureaucrats and the custodian/s of the social-media page and web presence of an island-wide poetry body tasked with the important role of praising whatever in language is well made.

i put this one on as part of the chatter i was doing, joyfully creating and sporting in letters, extolling the virtues of - love/hate it - Kredible's cultural full force compositional form of contemporary rhythmic urban lyrical rhythm and poetry exhibiting a very creative use of language that fulfills any ancient authority's definition of the word. Horace especially.

It does proper do the heads in of many a pawsh sooth dub dreamer yearning to be Famous 2. good luck, love to the family. healing hugs and positive energies gerrin beamed from the Leburtaze! Sloppy Bob.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Anne Marie Kennedy Review of Salmon Book, Session.

Pete Mullineaux's insightful look at traditional Irish music.  A Poet Prepared. 


The Bristol born, Galway based poet, author and playwright Pete Mullineaux knows his way confidently around traditional Irish music. His poetry collection, Session, (Salmon Poetry), dedicated to his mother, with artwork by Fran McCann, is guaranteed to leave his readers wanting more.

The poetry, like the regional variations in the music, varies in style and tone, the common link being the poet’s voice as a silent observer. Mullineaux uses evocative images, insightful observation, humour, playfulness and nostalgia. He is a scrutiniser of intricacies, a watchful eye, someone who listens to the tunes and observes the people who play them. The reader sees the players’ eyes, fingers, their bodies, the body language and the resulting inter-personal and inter-musical relationships being formed. Mullineaux also explores the emotions and psychologies of his subjects with curiosity and admiration.   

One of this writer’s favourites is A Piper Prepares, where the speaker intimately describes the uileann piper’s preamble. It is a tantalisingly visual poem with so much anticipation in the opening lines that the reader hopes the preamble goes on: It’s almost like shooting up; a captivating ritual / as the belt is looped around the forearm; the buckle/ notched, blowpipe joined to leather bag; a shard/ of cloth, folded between elbow and rib for comfort.

Mullineaux has the speaker in this poem watch the piper assemble the instrument and describe it in slow motion detail. ‘Drones are attached like pistol silencers, regulators poised,’ and while acknowledging the tune of the same name, ‘the piper’s apron,’ he remarks on the leather patch across the lap which provides ‘protection from the crazed jabs of the chanter, / its manic hypodermic dance.’ As the tune begins, ‘a primal hum vibrates,’ and ‘a gasp/ for air as the bellows fill and suddenly there’s life/ in the lungs and wind in the reeds...’

‘The Five Mile Chase,’ is a tribute to Patrick Street. Traditional musicians Andy Irvine, John Carty, Kevin Burke and Jed Foley have their individual stage movements noted and matched to rhythm, playing styles and character nuances. ‘A tilt of the chin for the pigeon on the gate/ a bend in the waist for the stack of wheat/ a wink in the eye for the blue eyed rascal/ a slip in the hip for a trip up the stairs.’ It’s a twelve line piece that could be sung in jig time. Hup! 

Mullineaux uses a coupling motif throughout the collection. In ‘The Lads of Leitrim,’ an accordion and a flute player meet up regularly to play a session in a snug in Manorhamilton. The poet compares their ease and joy in the music to a long standing marriage. ‘Could there be a love closer to their hearts/ than this – something to cherish for a lifetime -/ never to part, for better or worse/ in sickness and in health.’ As they launch into the Fermoy Lasses, he declares ‘these fellas are wedded to the music.’

Another couple, Paddy Canny and Frankie Gavin, have their musical communion told with slow lyrical ease in ‘Cave Music II.’ Canny, ‘the elder statesman has eyelids drawn / tight like a mole,’ while the younger Frankie, ‘allows the older man the lead, follows the set tone/ finding his own empathetic touch.’ 

Mullineaux provides the snapshot, watching the young Gavin who could have closed his eyes, but chose not to. Gavin, who was ‘a generation apart’ at the time, kept watch of the older man, ‘aware how much this moment must be fixed, / treasured deep in his own vaults.’ 

Watching Dermot Byrne and Floriane Blancke’s playing compelled the poet to write ‘Tabhair Dom Do Lámh.’ Byrne’s accordion sits ‘like a sleeping child in his lap,’ and Blancke ‘leans forward, the harp/against her cheek, listening/ for a heartbeat...’ The poem moves swiftly from the womb analogy, to a child one, when Byrne ‘tickles and squeezes’ the accordion, and like an infant, growing with the pace and momentum of the tune, together, the duo, ‘fast forward, to courtship, / dancing, making crazy love / through music.’ 

This aptly titled collection, Session, by Pete Mullineaux is a gem. Encore, si’l vous plait? It is available from www.salmonpoetry.com, bookshops and music stores.