Messiah J And The Expert Stream
by Dave Donnelly
October 10th 2008 | 11 Comments
Now on the cusp of releasing their third studio album From The Word Go, Messiah J & The Expert have led the domestic Irish hip hop scene for the better part of the last decade, having been invited to perform with just about every acclaimed US acts to his these shores, from Public Enemy to Aesop Rock. 2006’s Now This I Have To Hear was a huge step in the right direction, blending influences as diffuse as jazz, funk and indie rock, and there are many of us who feel From The Word Go is the album to put them over the top, so to speak. With that in mind, we’re very excited to be in on the ground floor with an exclusive stream of five tracks from the new album, with detailed explanations courtesy of Messiah J below.
The full text of Dave de Sylvia's interview with Messiah J can be found here.
‘Jean Is Planning An Escape’ is the first song that we distributed, or “showed,” to the public. We played it live but as the actual recorded version, it was the first. It’s arguably my second favourite track that we’ve ever done, next to ‘Looking For A Long Term Thing’ which is also on the album. It’s a song that I’m particularly proud of. It’s very much a departure for us- it’s quite up tempo, there’s a lot of four-to-the-floor to it, it’s got a very good riff, kind of electronic. It’s a song about a character called Jean who’s trapped in a relationship that she can’t really find a way out of, or she hasn’t in the past been able to find a way out of. And it’s set within a five-minute period of, kind of, will I, won’t I leave this character who’s has treated her like shit and she wants to break free. She knows she’d be better off, but the thing that holds her back, is what can hold so many of us back, is that we get used to what we know. She has to make this decision for herself, but her friends are saying, Jean do this, Jean do that, but she has to make up her own mind. It’s a song of encouragement where everybody is saying “go, Jean, go!” but she has to decide for herself. I’m really proud of what it is. It’s different for us.
Second song I think I picked was ‘Megaphone Man.’ It’s our new single, which is out on the 10th of October. I really like this song- I think it’s an interesting single. We’ve done a lot of stuff with songwriting that we haven’t done before. It’s kind of got a bit of a futuristic bump to it. It’s kind of got that west coast P-Funk thing to it and it’s got insanely catchy melodies in it and it’s all over before you know it. It’s a two and a half minute, concise, very crammed pop song. Thematically, it’s about many of us, people who have very opinionated- very strong desires to speak out, to stand up and, in some ways, rebel. But out of either shyness, or we don’t fully follow through. I know sometimes, when I’m having an argument with someone, I have something I really want to say and then when I walk away I think I really should have said it. And the song is really a desire to be a character called Megaphone Man, who kind of represents the man on the podium saying: “Abolish this!” “Down with this!” “I’ll tell you what you need.” There’s a line, “I want the bravery to tell it like it should be and the vision to envisage how it could be.” I want to be able to say “no, that’s not what it’s like” and the people will go “yeah!” To be able to not only say it shouldn’t be like that, but to say, this is what it should be. That’s always been a desire for me personally, and I look at people who are spokespeople for their generation, people like Joe Strummer from the Clash. That’s the aspiration- it works on so many levels. It’s not just music, it could be someone standing up to the union at their job and say, “no, these wages aren’t good enough” or whatever. I play a character in it who wants to be Megaphone Man but it’s not quite happening- it’s a song about longing.
‘Year Of The Genie’ is a song about how when there’s an election, in Ireland... it’s called ‘Year Of The Genie’ because I feel like politicians are always like “Wish #1: taxes come down. Wish #2...” It all seems a bit fantasy-based and it’s not actually going to happen. It comes from a sceptical point of view. It’s a political song, but it’s not preachy, in the sense that when an election comes along, I see posters up, I see people that don’t generally represent me talking in very general and vague terms that just sound like promises, promises, promises, and pamphlets that don’t break down things. I remember with the Lisbon Treaty referendum, I actually voted No. I just ticked the box... it’s like; I could have been doing anything. I could have been filling out a crossword- a very, very important crossword. I just feel like there is something that is lost in translation. There are some very good politicians out there, but from what I can see the vast majority don’t really take the opportunity to explain things to young people. There’s not enough of an invitation for young people and when that happens it’s done in a bit of a crass way. ‘Year Of The Genie’ is probably the angriest song on the album. It’s the opener; I think it’s got a lot of balls and a lot of gusto in it.
Musically, it is really punchy and it’s the way we described it and have always described it. When the Expert made the music for it, it was like the music you’d walk into a wrestling ring with. It’s got this real theme tune music and it’s one of my favourites on the album. I think it’s a really good opener in that it doesn’t beat around the bush; it comes straight out of the traps. It’s a really good Track One. It’s not aimed at anybody in particular, just “the gang” of politicians who just don’t appeal to me because they don’t say anything that... I get very disillusioned in a country where same-sex marriage isn’t recognised and the health system is in a fucking jocker. Okay, we’re better off than some other countries but there are fundamental things that I just can’t agree with. I think that so many of these politicians just don’t speak to me in a way that makes sense. I mean, they may have good arguments, but I think I’ve listened good enough, my attention span is good enough, and I just don’t think that things have been clearly explained. The Lisbon Treaty was a perfect example where I was thinking a Yes was riskier, but I could have been wrong.
‘Looking For A Long Term Thing’ is the best track we have ever written. It is the centrepiece of all the themes on the album and it does and says everything we have kind of been trying to do and say. It sounds like nothing else and has two contrasting musical sections which shouldn't go together but do. I love the mood changes and I think we crammed in so much. It even has a frickin’ sitar at the end!! Longevity is something so many of us strive for and all I've ever wanted was a leader or a partner or a friend or a cause that I could pin my hopes on and not be let down. This song is dedicated to the evergreen people and things that bloom forever.
‘Amnesia Comes Easily’ is very different for us again. It’s possibly our slowest song- it’s the slowest song we’ve ever done. It’s a song about friendship in the sense that when you are particularly close with somebody, you can have World War Two between you but... there’s definitely a thing with friendship on the album, and it’s kind of like you don’t even have to say sorry. It’s amnesia in the sense that you can throw a plate at me and call my girlfriend a bi-atch, but then sometimes if it’s the right person and you know where they’re coming from, the next day it’s just like, forget about it. I hold grudges with people that I don’t know, and my best friends could totally get away with more, and it’s kind of like a compliment to a friend in the sense that forgetting about it easy because of who the person is. That’s illustrated in the back and forth between myself and Joanne Daly, who does a star turn on the track. It’s very simple in its conception and musically, it’s different in that it’s experimenting with reggae- it’s reggae-tinged anyway- and again, another departure for us, but in a good way.
Special thanks to Messiah J & The Expert as well as Emma and Bernie from Entertainment Architects for organising this exchange of ideas.
|dude that's fucking tight as hell|
|I love the track in the background of Looking for a Long Term Thing.|
|This might very well be the first good non-North-American hiphop I've ever heard. Cool interview/ dialogue/ tracks. Thanks.|
|This entire deal is badass. I honestly can't think of anything else to write that doesn't essentially say the same thing. The songs are also awesome - way better than their earlier records (which weren't bad by any stretch of the imagination).|
|I meant to comment when this was first published, but this is really cool (the idea, I'm not so much a fan of the music)|
|Cant wait for the Andrews Lane gig!!!!|
this strikes me like sage with better production
|"What else have you heard?"|
Dizzee Rascal, The Streets, Massive Attack, lady soverign (lol), and more but not too much tbh. I'm sure there's a ton of cool underground stuff... but it's not as accessible for someone in the states to check out.
|"Looking for a Long Term Thing" is badass, both the song AND the explanation.|
|New Messiah J and the Expert microsite released. Check it out at:|