From the Emerald Isle comes the sparkling green jewel in the crown of the indie and alternative hip hop scene. Featuring a choice selection of different voices and styles from all over Ireland spitting over the delicious beats laid out by producer and mastermind Odd Numbers, this is a little taste of something magic.
Odd Numbers as a producer wasn’t content to sit quietly while the music scene was on hold. Instead he decided to take his production skills to the next level organising both the funding and the features to put together this vicious little volume of future rap and hip-hop classics.
As a whole the album fits together beautifully, the songs are matched or mixed carefully in terms of BPM so that there are no sudden spikes or surprises. This feat is more impressive given the range of different styles and genres present within the volume.
The collaboration is set to be the first in a series that looks to promote community and communication within the Irish hip-hop scene. With the impressive level of production that features on the volume and the incredible turns by each of the lyricists, it’s easy to believe that there will be a call for more. No matter what flavour of hip-hop you prefer they’re serving up something that will quench your thirst.
The album starts with the track Golden Era featuring Emmet O’Brien. It has this ethereal little spaced out meditative beat that hunkers down coiled and ready to strike as potential energy underneath the poetic lyricism. Emmet O’Brien has crafted a sharp and poignant introduction to the level of witty lyrics yet to come. It’s powerful prose that paints a picture of a united island of creative expression all coming together as one.
Next up is World’s Flyest Slobs featuring Muttonhead and Local Boy of Burner Records fame. The beat meets the lo-fi energy laid out in the introduction but introduces a classic hip-hop drumbeat with the crisp clap of syncopated rhythms. Lyrically it’s a playful homage to the braggadocio of 90s era hip-hop classics. Both Muttonhead and Local Boy spit with their tongue firmly in cheek and it’s got a tasty little hook that will get your head nodding and bring a smile to your face.
Cathedrals begins with this spooky choir that instantly evokes the troubled Irish history with religion. The track quickly morphs into something much more though with the introduction of some trappy vocal effects and glitchy drums. MCs Rogan and Omega spit aggressive bars attacking the fake and the undeserving of attention alike.
Sticks and Stones comes in with this waterfall of keys and the rattatat of that super crisp boom-bap beat. Citizen Black flexes flows and multisyllabic gymnastics over the top, never settling into one rhythm for too long before he switches it up. Every line punches with poetic imagery and impressive linguistic athleticism with schemes coming back around again and again for the knockout punch. Lyrically it serves up some wizened wisdom and acts as a banner for conscious hip-hop heads to rally around. Everything is subjective, each to their own and all that… but I’m pretty sure this is our choice for the standout track of the album.
We’re jetting into the cosmic realms with the next track Space Bars. The beat takes it back to the lo-fi with a jazzy little head bopper whilst the Rog Poets coalesce over the top to provide a masterclass in what a true hip-hop collective can do. We’ve been treated to the vocal stylings of the Rog Poets before having been sent Checkmate to shove in our hungry little earholes. They are a talented trio that channel a Jurassic level of comradery and skill in mixing and matching the flows and styles of the MC before with impressive baton passing and lyric writing always on display.
Sick Of It might be the darkest little track on the mixtape. It has this creepy music box at the heart of the beat which is layered with a rattlesnake shake on the drums. The beat comes in and out as MC Sea High lists all of the things wrong with the world and the mainstream hip-hop scene. It’s a venomous track that shows off what you can do with a little more thought put into your rhymes rather than just parroting the Gucci gang mantra.
We get a little taste of old school soul with next track Maintain. At it’s heart it has this tasty little guitar lick with some gorgeous soaring vocals mixed in, it provides a beautiful bed for MCs Ritewell and Daly to roll around in. The lyricism is incredibly tight and the flow switches from a melodic chant to spitfire machine gun double speed with impressive skill. Like many of the tracks before it explores the mind and the behaviours of the scene and asks the listeners to expand and progress beyond that.
Crook is the first all out trap offering on the album. Jeorge II expertly exhibits just how quick and intricate lyrical content can easily flow over the top over a beat like this. Every rhyme and scheme wiggles effortlessly into the next to weave a complex tapestry charting another take on just how to play outside and evolve past the stereotypes the world provides.
The Ballyboyz come in wielding wordplay weaponry with track Blunt To The Neck. It’s a classic hip-hop beat in the DJ Premier vein, bringing together a soundscape of sounds around the totem pole of a ridiculously rhythm on the drums. The Ballyboyz may well be Irelands answer to The Four Owls. Their flows and verses knitted together wittily with spit still dripping off the mic after they’re done. It all comes together in the chorus and it just feels so goddamn fresh.
In terms of energy and aggression nothing on the album comes close to matching Hazey Haze with the track Fuck That. The beat is not much more than the neck snap and knockout punch of the drums laced with a prowling turn on the keys. Over the top of this Hazey Haze goes into full beserker mode chucking out the high octane growling chorus and mach ten bars.
Blue marks the end of the album and serves up some nostalgic soundscapes underneath the slick vocal stylings of Wallfella. The track is a trip down memory lane both in terms of the old-school groove and the lyrical content, as we relive the summer Wallfella spent drinking too much, and falling in love with music on the Irish club scene. It’s a nice piece of self-reflection and introspective thought to end the collection with.
The Golden Eire Tapes Vol 1 is a beautiful collection of some of Irelands most talented hip-hop heads. It provides a unique taste of some voices that you might not have heard before. It’s filled with banger after banger and our only real complaint is that there aren’t any female voices on this volume, an omission fairly glaring when given the collaborative nature of the project and scene. This is something easily fixed for Vol 2 though.
Odd Numbers has achieved something bigger and better than even he expected, both in applying for the funding and bringing together this collaborative conversation in the Irish hip-hop scene. We can’t wait for the next one.
Words by Matt Miles