How long have you been rapping?
“Just over ten years. I’ve been writing raps since I was about 14. But obviously, I was shite until I got to about 18, so thank God there was no Soundcloud back then. I started doing shows around 19 and then just got a job as a builder and fell out with it. Then I got into the Animators when I was about 20/21 and I’ve been doing it solid since then.”
What inspired you to want to be a rapper?
“I think it was my environment as a kid. Unlike most kids, my ma was hip to a lot of rap and she used to have tapes of De La Soul and Arrested Development in the jammer. She still has a burnt CD of 2pac songs she keeps in her car. Not just Dear Mama but like Troublesome 96 and all. So it was that, mixed with pirate radio and probably an interest in something that was different then my peers. Rap wasn’t as accepted as it is now for teenagers. Back then it was ‘wigger music’. I listened to albums religiously and when I heard Irish rap around the mid 00s I thought, Irish people can do this and ARE doing this and that I can do better than these lads are so I started then.”
Has there been one artist that you have constantly looked up to since you first starting writing?
“With me the influences change and whoever I get stuck on at a particular moment affects my writing. Mainstays would be Andre 3000, Busta Rhymes and Nas. But if it’s one person who really has influenced me musically and personally it would be Mike Skinner, from the OPM era.”
What led to break up of the Animators?
“I don’t really air out my dirty laundry in public and would never put anybody on blast, because even though there’s a serious divide and split between us, I still consider every one of the lads my brothers and I love them. It was more to do with the fact we were all grown men when we got into the group. I was the youngest at 20, so if we were all school mates or grew up on the same estate we might have had more of an organic relationship. We just were musically on the same wave for a few years. There was outside factors like people with kids or issues at home. Mix that with all of us having different ideas of how to continue musically, it stunted what should’ve been an easy progress. Also there was work ethic shit, where some people weren’t as into is as the others. But this all comes down to the first point of us being used to being solo artists with our own vision and styles for so long before coming together. We’d been through the mill with drama before and that turned a 9 man crew down to a 5 man crew at one point. Which was for the better as we got the people who really wanted to do something with the Animators together, but eventually the strain was too much.”
What is the most important thing you learned from your time in the group?
“There was a few things and I mentioned them on our track Me and My Crew. Things that have made me the calibre of MC I am now, I got all from the lads who, because they were older than me or had different styles, could teach me. RV taught me a lot about flow. Richie expanded my vocabulary and my thought process. Smokey made me put soul and heart into what I was writing. Of course my brother Fogo always got the best out of me and as a song writer and a producer, not just a beat maker. He would help me with structure and delivery and how to fully make a song. Out of the whole experience I would say it was how to work with a crew. Our live shows were unmatched and I don’t want to say that to be big headed but i see so many Irish hip hop acts go on and the crowd aren’t feeling it. And that took time. The most important thing at the end of it was to keep the attitude of a high standard. Not just good enough, or good enough for Irish rap. Great music, and something you can stand by forever. Set the bar mentality.”
What are you most proud of?
“The music. I still listen to Draw Together frequently, and not with rose tinted glasses. It’s an album I had an honour to be a part of. It’s exactly the rap album I want to listen to, so personally it embodies everything I wanted to do since I was 14. I have the album logo tatted on my chest. There was great nights like meeting my heroes like Big Daddy Kane Kane, the Pharcyde, Afrika bambaata,.. and becoming friends with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Playing sell out shows in the Village or the Academy. But it all boils down to the music. To me I have an album I love that I made. You can’t really buy that.”
What exactly happened at the Grandmaster Flash gig recently?
“To be honest it was an unlucky night. Apparently he only uses rane mixers, which of course the venue booked. When it arrived it was in bits ,with parts missing and he wouldn’t use it. Which I completely understand. I wouldn’t use a battered mic that no one could hear me through. Flash also won’t use decks the support act uses. So there was actually another set of turn tables right beside his ones which were perfectly fine, but it was a pioneer mixer so he wouldn’t use it. I don’t blame the venue or him. But I know that if I was there and a big crowd was screaming for me I probably would’ve just used the other decks. His manager had a row with the sound guy on stage and as far as I’m aware, he was playing a festival in the UK that day. He got a very late flight and arrived too late for it to be sorted all out, which meant everyone had to get refunds and he didn’t play. It’s a shame because I hope it doesn’t affect people putting on hip hop nights in Dublin which we really need and especially in great venues like Hangar, which I can’t say enough good things about.”
What festival are most excited to play or to have played this year?
“I’ve played two this year already which were great. Life festival was fucking freezing but I saw Nas so it was worth it. BARe festival, which I would encourage people to check out, was small and great crowd with BYOB and no hassle or a Garda in sight. But it has to Electric Picnic. The last two times I was there I kept seeing Irish rap acts there like Lethal Dialect and Hare Squead and said to myself I should be playing this. Unfortunately we were too late with material with the Animators in the year for bookers and then obviously the next year we had split. But I’ll be playing two shows down in trenchtown with The Dirty Dubsters crew which I MC with RV. I’m only bleedin buzzin for it! It’s the one festival I can count all the lads to come down to so they’ll get to see me onstage.”
Top 3 albums of all time?
“If you asked me this tomorrow it would be a completely different answer. It’s tough to nail down but seeing as we’re chatting about rap I’ll just give my rap albums:
Original Pirate Material – The Streets
Outkast – Aquemini
And I have to rep my city so probably Bitter Rocc – MMXIII”
If you could feature alongside any artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And who would produce the beat?
“Q-Tip or maybe Wiley. Beat
-wise, a lot of rappers would say Priemo or Kanye but honestly it has to be my bro Fogo AKA mathman. His versatility and quality Is unmatched and that’s as unbiased as I can be.”
Finish this sentence: ‘Irish hip hop needs…’
“To stop looking for a handout and a pat on the back. We need to be self dependent. Make our own scene like grime in the UK. It took them a long time, but staying true to your sound with belief does pay off. Hoping for a co-sign from some one who doesn’t care or have any impact on our scene is cool, but it won’t get you far. Less of a mentality of Irish hip hop, and just call it hip hop. It needs unity and less fragmentation. I was guilty of this in the past hating on other crews and whatever cause I was so focused on my own one, but all in all if your doing it and doing it right, I’ve nothing but respect and I’ll support. Most of us don’t even buy each other’s albums.
Also, keeping it boom bap and gully and New York ’95 style is all well and good but we also need more people expanding and growing creatively, and that’s not a shot at anyone. There’s people who do that really well here and have created their own lane. I come from an era where in rap the most important thing is being original not jacking someone else’s style just cause it’s popping at the minute. We need quality control. Stop posting bullshit demos on soundcloud and create something that is on par with the standard not just good enough for you cause your only rapping a bleeding week. We also need more songs for the radio or media exposure cause that’s how we made moves and got places. And of course less snakey shit, keep the gossip and the hating to aul ones putting out their line.”
Mango and Mathman are set to release their new album soon titled Casual Work. Keep an eye out for it!