If two trains carrying vastly differing genres and cultures are traveling at a 160 beats per minute collide on the banks of the Shannon, how good will it sound? Pretty damn good, it would seem. That is if Graeme S + MynameisjOhn ft God Knows’ three track EP ‘The Struggle’, is anything to go by.
An exercise in cross genre, cross culture and cross musical pollination, the EP is sewn together with careful fingers, pulling the rhythmically charged lyrics of rapper God Knows through a net of pared back drums and floating samples.
The short EP’s first track, Save our Souls employs a ‘slowfast’ style. Jumping from deep bass to relentless snare it slows and speeds your heartbeat like you were about to have some sort of blissful stroke. God Know’s lyrics are dripping with racial consciousness and tongue and cheek self-deprecation, shot like a Gatling gun over some incredibly clean and polished sampling.
As a song for the marginalised, “Kids without fathers, girls who will never be models”, it’s clear that it is God Knows own cultural integration into Irish life gives him a deep pool of angst to draw from. It is however the speed and precision of his lyrics which gives the EP its ‘cajones’.
While what would seem to be a fairly amateur fade out of the song’s title lyric “save our souls” sits incongruously into the otherwise unblemished track, the EP’s trio of tracks flow like a single song. The deep bass returns in STRUGGLE only differing slightly in tempo and again begins hammering at the heartbeat.
Classical samples are torn into little pieces and dotted throughout. In keeping with the contrasting genres, it mimics the racial and cultural bridges that the lyrics try to gap. Lyrics like “racists got me feeling like a parasite” are savage enough to make you pause and wonder about the culture of asylum seekers in Ireland; a culture most outside it wouldn’t usually spare a thought for.
The EP’s finale Shambala is a strange lyricless hybrid of African drum rhythms and vocal samples split open with gritty western samples. It gives both producers, Graeme S and MynameisjOhn a chance to showcase their ability to weave the two musical genres together. The vocal samples and bass of each track all run in the same key, creating the type of seamless transition which runs throughout the album; like an eerie soundtrack to the Lion King.
It’s an EP that deserves a serious listen, a rapper that deserves serious attention and producers who are more than capable at what they do. If it could be said that the EP is a window into a musically and culturally integrated Ireland, it should be played to those who God Knows mentions – those who are controlled by their prejudices – so that they can hear just how good a culturally diverse Ireland would sound.