Ruckus, energy, family. These are the three words that God Knows uses to describe their live show. It also sums up the entire ethos of God Knows & MynameisjOhn quite well. A sense of community is easily conveyed through their music and it has an organic quality. The two emcees MuRli and God Knows soaked up a wealth of knowledge of African and Indian music from early jam sessions in church and are injecting their own unique brand of hip hop into it to create a genre spanning sound.
Both MuRli and God Knows have rich musical backgrounds. Growing up in Africa meant that their first experiences of music were a very different kettle of fish from the scene that they would eventually grow into and thrive in around Limerick & Clare. MuRli’s earliest memory of music is of his grandfather leading the choir at funerals in Africa and God Knows tells us of his Dad coaching dancers for ceremonies and generally wanting to be a part of the occasion. I believe it is what has given these two young emcees a different and unique approach to not just song writing but how they live their lives also.
Their album Rusangano/Family carries a prevalent message of togetherness. They may call themselves the “weirdos” who didn’t fit into to any particular group but their ability to delve into different worlds gives them a vast wealth of experience to draw inspiration from. Whether it’s the rich musical heritage of Africa, or the dingier side of Clare and Limerick, these lads have seen more than your average rapper. Being too young for the ’90s boom bap era of hip hop, they both began to delve deep into genre when they surge of backpack rappers appeared in the mid 2000s. Their list of favourite emcees ranges from everyone to “a socially conscious” Tupac, to Eminem, to Sarkodie a rapper from Ghana. While they may have missed what many consider to be the Golden Age, it has not stifled their ability in the slightest to create interesting and authentic hip hop.
The two emcees found it easy to relate to and gel with MynameisjOhn on every level. Both MuRli and God Knows realise that the producer has a musical flexibility that is almost one of a kind. His overall appreciation of music allows him to get inspiration from everywhere, whether that’s from Run the Jewels (a duo they have sampled and are supporting this December thanks to a successful petition) or a “song from the early 1900s.” They both show a willingness to learn and add to their already extensive knowledge of music, which is one of the reasons that they were able to relate to each other on every level in the first place.
MuRli feels that “music has been taken away from the people” and that they have been given an opportunity to bring it back to them. It is a warm and genuine sentiment that has been missing in hip hop for quite some time. While they were honoured to have been handpicked by Snoop Dogg to support them in the Academy this Summer, they say they still prefer the smaller shows in Limerick where they know the crowd and vice versa. The “passion comes from these smaller gigs” and gives them the opportunity to represent for “the average punter”.
It is clear that they are not simply looking for that “comfy chair” that everyone wants in life. They are a group “for the people” who simply want the resources to sustain and give back to the community on an even grander scale than they already are. This is a quality that has been lacking in the music community as a whole and is something that should addressed. They only want the opportunity to “bring what they have learned back to the people” and with some great songs and people behind them, who could fault them for that.
God Knows + mynameisjOhn play the Workmans Club tonight