More than any other style of music perhaps, hip-hop is as much about where you’re from as where you’re headed. The trouble is, if you’re not from a certain part of the world then most people don’t want to know, so you either ape the established styles or find your own voice and face the slings and arrows. Messiah J & The Expert have always done the latter, increasingly silencing their critics.
The mantle of being an Irish hip-hop crew has always weighed heavy, but From The Word Go should finally allow them to be seen as just a band. While Now This I Have To Hear was no slouch of a record, the third album finds them more focused than ever before, walking the line of being true to their roots without being either parochial or a clichÃ©. You won’t find a Bothy Band sample anywhere here but the record is as Irish as they come. J’s lyrics are a lot more outward looking than before, introducing a subtle political edge as well as looking at subjects like domestic violence and the country’s drinking culture, without coming unstuck.
Musically too, they’ve upped their game, employing sounds and styles not only fresh to themselves but to the genre in general. Pop, swing, techno, rock and psychedelia all fit seamlessly into the mix, as do regular collaborators and special guests, including Delorentos. Time after time, song after song, they simply nail it. Not an -Irish hip-hop’ record or any such nonsense, just a great one.