Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Album: This Side Up - Full Fat

This Side Up Full Fat

This Side Up - Full Fat

Info: This Side Up started as a vinyl night for the heads in Sligo back sometime around 2008. Turntables, pints and ceiling slapping good craic in McGarrigles. In a place brimming with music and a colourful turn of phrase hip hop came naturally. It makes sense! Within no time a live rap cypher grew into an original set. Shortly after that again This Side Up were spinning around the country in a transit. Things got rowdy!

Following the success of their ‘3075’ ep last year TSU abandoned everything to work on more tunes. They set up ‘Citóg Studios’ in Dublin and got to work producing ‘Full Fat’. ’Full Fat’ is the album name and the style. Gallons of rap packed full of substance, from late night bangers to more sparse and vulnerable songs. This music goes beyond cliché and subverts the norms of the classic rap sound. It’s 100% homebrewed music from the West of Ireland. It's Full Fat!

Independent music, no matter where you are, always faces an uphill struggle and a battle for recognition. Thankfully in Ireland, that has been somewhat alleviated over the last few years, with a burgeoning live music scene and a massive appetite from music fans being quenched by a massive amount of acts, more venues, and accessible channels for publicity. There was a time when Irish hip-hop however, had, through no fault of its own, lagged behind, the acceptance had just been slower, but this did not deter artists within the genre from forging ahead just as strongly as their counterparts, thankfully those days appear to be reaching an end. 

An underground within an underground, Irish hip-hop has flourished over the last three years, and it's a greater discussion for another day, but one act that have reveled within this space are Sligo's This Side Up. The trio, Myster-E, Shaool & Noone, are not cobbled together, or chance acquaintances, they slot together perfectly, and TSU would not function without one of the three. And neither would their debut album, Full Fat, which is out on the 14th of November, an exemplar of the health Irish hip-hop is in today.

This Side Up - Signs feat. Verb T & Moreone

Opening with the album's title track, This Side Up embrace old school hip-hop and rap sounds, the familiarity of early 90's horns and their infectious personality combine with the determined work of Noone on decks, it's an attention grabbing start to the album that locks you in willingly. Early doors but one of my favourite tracks on Full Fat is 'Billy No Mates', the vibe is Arrested Development meets House of Pain, and I hope the latter isn't insulting! A message of solidarity and openness for those finding themselves in trouble within their own heads. 

'The Beast' is the first full on entrance to an urban hip-hop sound and a deliberate seriousness, pulling no punches, the defiance is loud and clear, perhaps conceptions flipped on their head, fulfilling the pre-ordained role painted by others and in a broader sense society. 'All Or Nothin'' is an intense and head-spinning track with Myster-E driving right over its opening to the backdrop of his own dark and industrial beat and effects, and the full fat cream rises to the top when both MC's join in unison before bouncing off each other.

'Signs' feat. Verb T & Moreone (above video) is a highly enjoyable collaboration mixing urban UK hip hop and grime with TSU's own sound which they adapt with ease to slightly new surroundings, a slick piece of mellow and moody choonage. With 'Maad' Shaool and Myster-E reflect on the insanity and frustration of repeating the mistakes of the past and as Einstein said, expecting a different result, aimed at the financial and political classes who stamp on the face of the 'little people'. 

Full Fat Album This Side Up

A note of defiance of another kind comes on eighth track 'In The Depths', an offer of support and a raised out hand to those overwhelmed and consumed by the black dog on their shoulder, appropriately the music and sound is stripped back and the pace is slow, no panic, but the determination is unquestionable. 'Detox The Brainbox' feat. MC Muipéad again embraces old school hip-hop early 90's sounds with hypnotic loops and quirky beats perfectly executed by Noone, MC Muipéad weighing in in the mother tongue and telling an old flame that it's okay to just be friends! 

Full Fat finishes strongly, 'Snappin' feat. Hamo opening with a breezy 80's disco sample before the heat arrives, just like 'All Or Nothin' This Side Up crank up the energy and forcefulness. Their dexterity and ability to make almost every single track on the album sound different yet unmistakably theirs is hammered home on closer 'No M.E.S.S.', an otherworldly tribal beat and rhythm encompass both Shaool and Myster-E, with the creative sounds of the latter warping around their lyrics, and this, is why they are so cohesive as a unit. 

For someone who is admittedly by no stretch of the imagination an expert on hip-hop music, I managed to find plenty on Full Fat that felt familiar in relation to the many albums and sounds I have subconsciously built up over the years since I was a teen. It's hard not to think that this could be one of those albums that creates and stores memories long after it's release, this labour of love has certainly borne fruit for This Side Up and us music fans.

You can pre-order Full Fat on CD or digital download here https://thissideupire.bandcamp.com/album/full-fat and the album will also be available on Spotify, Deezer and iTunes upon release.

TSU are set to get Rowdy across the country! Check Facebook / Website for details. 

Sligo, 5th on Teeling, Fri Nov 11th  
Galway, Seven, with Clandestinos, Fri Nov 18th
Cork, Liquid Lounge, Cutting Heads Collective, Sat Nov 19th
Dublin, The Grand Social, Sat Nov 26th