Tag Archives: Slaine

EP REVIEW: SLAINE- ‘Slaine Is Dead’ (2016)

Irish-American hip-hop artist, lyricist, famous actor, gambler, Bostonian and professional asshole!

slaine-is-dead

Life is hard for some. That much is clear. The story of Irish-America is one of success and how after years of toil and racism and bigotry against them the Irish finally lifted them selves from the ghetto’s and universal success became the order of the day. Well there are two Irish-America’s and Slaine’s, real name George Carroll, is definitly the most interesting. After all it is working class Irish-American life that Hollywood likes to make TV and movies about.

slaineSlaine’s life reads like a novel. Born in Dorchester, home of several past and present members of The Dropkick Murphys and a large Irish community, Slaine got into hip-hop at a early age

“I started writing rhymes when I was nine years old, I use to record on my boom box with a pair of headphones plugged into the microphone jack. I felt they were just words on a page because I didn’t have an outlet to perform them”

and recognising the path to stardom lay in a move to New York he later packed his bags and moved to New York City and enrolled in school. After only seven months, an unfortunate altercation between Slaine and a school employee resulted in his expulsion. He didn’t let this set him back and he remained determined and focused. Surviving on the hard lonely streets of New York City by doing anything he could lay his hand to and eventually it paid dividend and he was introduced to Danny Boy O’Connor of House of Pain. This led to him being signed to a production deal with DJ Lethal of House of Pain which led to the release of ‘The White Man is the Devil’ (‘white man’ being a reference to cocaine, not a declaration of self hate) and touring world-wide. In a very short time he had gone from living in absolute poverty with a drug habit to traveling the globe and working with hip-hop icons such as House of Pain, Cypress Hill and a whole host of others. He became part of the mostly Irish-American hip-hop collective La Coka Nostra alongside Ill Bill and all three members of House of Pain – Everlast, DJ Lethal and Danny Boy. La Coka Nostra’s debut album, A Brand You Can Trust went straight in at #84 in the American Top 200 showing that the group’s brand of blue collar hip-hop was exactly what fans were waiting for. Slaine’s name continued to grow far past his hometown of Boston due to the exposure he was receiving but as his music career grew, so did his personal battle with drugs. Overdoses, hospital visits and a spiral of drugs and violence, continued until he finally checked himself into rehab.

“Everybody had a story to tell. That was where the idea and the hunger for ‘The White Man is the Devil’ was born”

On conquering his addiction, fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck presented Slaine with the chance of a lifetime to make his acting debut playing Bubba Rogowski in the gritty portrayal of Boston-Irish life in Gone Baby Gone. Both a critical and financial success this led to Slaine going on to star in, among others, The Town, The Crack Down and Bad Blood alongside such famed actors as  Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini. While scaling the heights in the acting world he returned again and again to his hip-hop roots releasing several album’s of hard hitting lyrical content and vicious delivery. His last official release was The King Of Everything Else album back in 2014 so we have have awaiting his return with baited breathe.
slaine-king

The EP kicks off with ‘Slaine Is Dead (Intro)’ which is in fact part of the beautiful ‘The Ballad Of Mairead Farrell’ which tells of an IRA volunteer gunned down on active service in Gibralter in 1988. One of the saddest of all rebel songs and nails Slaine’s colours to the mast from the first few seconds. I first heard this song as played by Irish-American band Seanchai and The Unity Squad and you can find their great version here . Slaine Is Dead really starts with the title song next and Slaine’s lyrics come busting straight out of his heart into the speakers at you.

“So many dark days they have ruptured my patience
I’d like to part ways but I’m stuck in the matrix
See I’ve been out of luck, so corrupted and faithless
And now without a buck I’m like fuck it I hate this
So many close calls, all these brushes with greatness
But not enough to power my spaceship
Not enough to persuade the gods right and face where they sit
As they parade the dogs of war off fake cliff
And that’s how It felt from grace, through the winds of sin
I had to go and find my wings again
While the angel of death goes and sings the hymn
As he strangle my breath, tore me limb from limb
Well you let your soul slip to the other side
Will the caterpillar turn into the butterfly?
I can see the pain falling from my mothers eyes
But I keep on falling for these fucking lies
So my mind holding on to the liquor and coke
In my fire room it’s out but there’s a flicker of hope
In these institution walls where they kickin’ the dope
I’m reminded of the power of that shit that I wrote
I walk with the devil, talking to God
Murder stories in this purgatory, coughing up blood
But I will not break, I will not fall
This is just another rhyme that I wrote on my wall

It’s been so long, you see my face
While I come back to plead my case
When I’m gone and time comes to make a leap of faith
There’s no way to keep the secret safe
That Slaine is dead”

In a career where Slaine has achieved heights that others can only dream of his music career has been mostly based on confronting both his demons and his failures. The EP sleeve features the dates 1977-2014. That is the year he was born and the year Slaine finally threw the monkey of addiction off his back and went sober. After years of dependency he was free and music and acting became his way of ensuring he was never going to return to those days. That Slaine is dead.

His life as an addict is depicted further on ‘Nobody Prays For Me’ which features Demrick and this lyrical masterpiece continues. The dictionary definition of an ‘seanchaí’ is of a storyteller

“…were servants to the chiefs of the tribe and kept track of important information for their clan. They were very well respected and they made use of a range of storytelling conventions, styles of speech and gestures that were peculiar to the Irish folk tradition and characterized them as practitioners of their art”

and Slaine is certainly a modern age equivalent of that ancient art. In the first single from the EP ‘Pusher’ Slaine takes us into the dark and dangerous world of the drug dealer. These weren’t the times that he is proud of but he’s presenting them here as a warning to others not to follow the path he trod.

‘Just The Way You Are’ features guest vocals from fellow Mass. rapper Termanology and chronicles both his battles with addiction and the effect it had upon his family and friends. ‘Knocked Down’ features Rite Hook guesting. Rite Hook is a lost son of Massachusetts himself. Years of hard living defined his early career and in 2012, he overdosed and died. His heart stopped completely, and paramedics had to revive him. A survivor in the truest sense of the word he returned to music and like Slaine it came with a newfound focus. On ‘Legendary’ (featuring Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz and Jared Evan) we can begin to see the light, for want of a better word. He’s been to rock bottom and is starting to fight back. His drive to become ‘Legendary’ has been finally achieved so we can witness his salvation on the final track ‘Coming Home’.

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Slaine’s music is hard, dark and aggressive. It always has been. Irish-American life is not always ‘Shamrocks And Shenanigans’. Sometimes its hard. We Irish come from a complicated race and it’s always been true that our worse enemy is within ourselves. Our struggles with alcoholism and drugs are well documented and often are hidden behind closed doors and though the working class life that Slaine and others come from may not be one you are familiar with but it exists. Slaine has fought hard but has never walked away from his roots. He deserves his salvation.

“I love making music that means something to me, I am grateful for all the experiences that I have had- good and bad. I am lucky to be alive, but my past also made me who I am today”

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DANNY BOY AND SLAINE PRESENT THE HOUSE OF SLAINE ST PATRICKS DAY MIXTAPE

AND FREE DOWNLOAD!

FOR THE LOVE OF THE IRISH

Slaine

Slaine 17/03/2015 Boston

Here is the ‘House of Slaine’ mixtape, an homage to Irish-American hip-hop band House of Pain made by Boston born rapper Slaine and two thirds of House Of Pain’s original members Danny Boy O’Connor and DJ Lethal from the legendary hip-hop crew. The mixtape was created for Slaine’s annual St Patrick’s Day party in Boston, MA at The Middle East on March 17th 2015.

Danny O'Connor

Danny O’Connor 17/03/2015 Boston

With guest appearances from Mike McColgan from The Street Dogs, Ill Bill, Termanology, Apathy and Sick Jacken, Ras Kass, Sean Price and many more, the mix can be played below via YouTube or click on the picture of the hat to go to the download link.

click on the hat to be directed to your free download

click on the hat to be directed to your free download

House Of Slaine

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“tradition, loyalty…got no use for your royalty”

CELTIC HIP-HOP’S TOP SEVEN ARTISTS AND BANDS

House Of Pain

For the sake of this article I have defined celtic hip-hop as being of two things… hip-hop made by people from a celtic background and hip-hop that is fused with celtic music. For that reason I haven’t included any rappers/hip-hop from the countries of origin. Mainly because I don’t know any but also partly because this blog is to celebrate and promote the celtic diaspora and the influence of that diaspora.

1. HOUSE OF PAIN

Not a lot to be said about these. Their are probably tribal villagers in the rain jungle who have at some point jumped around to that song!! Formed in 1991 in New York the group of school-friends became absolutely-bleeding-massive with the release of, yes, ‘that’ song in 1992. They released three albums and a compilation ‘Shamrocks And Shenanigans’. Although they stuck pretty close to the standard hip-hop way of doing things and never really included any celtic/Irish instruments they did occasionally use signatures reminiscent of Irish jigs. Absolutely huge world wide and can be credited with being a huge influence on Irish-America and the wider Irish diaspora, even today. Still performing but more so these days to promote the lead singer Everlast’s solo career.

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2. MARXMAN

From their name you ought to be able to tell they veered a wee bit to the left. Formed in Bristol by college friends towards the end of the 1980’s these boys did not mess around! Marxman were unrepentant socialists and championed the underdog and victims of social injustice. Their first album ’33 Revolutions Per Minute’ included the song ‘Sad Affair’ which comprised lyrics from the Christy Moore penned song ‘Irish Ways And Irish Laws’ and was subsequently banned by the BBC. They also touched on themes such as domestic violence and slavery. They incorporated Irish instruments alongside the music making something totally original for that time. They sadly faded away after their much less politicised 2nd album came out though they are credited with being one of the fore-runners of the ‘Trip-Hop’ (see Portishead or Tricky) genre which originated in Bristol.

LastFM  Discogs

3. MACKLEMORE

We’ve already done an article on the Seattle born rapper Ben Haggerty here so head there if you want to read a bit more on him. Suffice to say he’s another Irish-American rapper who wears his roots proudly on his sleeve. Debut album ‘The Heist’ came out in 2012 and this year his massive hit ‘Thrift Shop’ hit #1 in far too many countries to mention here! His lyrics are a million miles away from most major hip-hop artists and although he doesn’t use any celtic instruments or tunes his song ‘Irish Celebration’ can leave you in absolutely no doubt where he stands!

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4. BELTAINE’S FIRE

Formed in 2005 in San Francisco by solo-anarchist rapper Emcee Lynx they started out as ‘folk-rap’ with influences alongside their hip-hop from Scottish and Irish music but soon evolved and introduced other musical elements and aspects into their sound. They have released 3 studio albums, the last being ‘Anarchitecture’ in 2011 (the profits of which they donated to Occupy Wall Street). Huge supporters of file-sharing much of their music is either free or ‘pay as much as you can’. Another highly political band and they have played many benefits and appeared on many compilation albums for causes such as the Anarchist Black Cross and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Web-Site  MySpace

5. SEANCHAI AND THE UNITY SQUAD

Chris Byrne a Irish-American cop co-founded the celtic-rock band Black47 with Larry Kirwan in 1989. While playing with Black47 Chris set up these lot as a side-project. A ‘seanchai’ is a traditional Irish storyteller/historian and ancient teller of old tales so in this respect its a absolutely spot on name! They’ve released several albums and all contain the same mix of hip-hop, Irish folk, rock and punk, R&B, reggae/ska, protest anthems, rebel songs and prank phone calls to radio hosts that we have come to expect. Really, when you put on a Seanchai LP you never know if you’re gonna hit a punk song like ‘Irish Catholic Boy’ or hip-hop like ‘Sportin Paddy! A casserole of cultures that will soon make them a staple on your musical menu.

MySpace  LastFM 

6. MANAU

Not being a huge hip-hop fan I was going to keep it short and just do the Top Five but after coming across this band I thought I better expand it into a Top Six. Manua (the old Breton gaelic name for the Isle Of Man) were formed in 1998 in Paris by members of that cities huge Breton diaspora. In 1998 they had a massive hit with ‘La Tribu de Dana’ which tells the story of the tribe of Dana, and is the name of a group of figures in Irish mythology. They have released six albums, the last being this years ‘Fantasy’ and although they have moved somewhat away from the celtic sound sometimes those early releases are absolute stand-outs in the celtic-music world.

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7. SLAINE

Well so much for a Top Six! Slaine, or George Carroll as he’s known to his mammy, is a Boston born rapper and these days a quite famous actor as well. Inspired by the House Of Pain and a move to New York he became active in that city’s burgeoning underground hip-hop scene. He’s released several albums and been on countless compilations and has just released his latest called ‘The Boston Project’. He teams up with Danny Boy O’Connor from the House Of Pain to perform as the House Of Slaine and they sell some of the most brilliant alternative Irish t-shirts on the internet. Well worth a look here.

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A couple other notables are the ‘Lordz Of Brookyln’ and ‘Da Ded Rabbitz’ but no one could tell me anything about them …

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