The new issue of Lookleft has hit the shelves across Ireland this week. Here is an interview with Captain Moonlight from the previous issue. Lookleft is available in every Easons north / south & other selected retailers.
Obsessive about politics, philosophy, literature, music and hurling, Kilkenny rapper Captain Moonlight tackles serious political issues, creating intelligent, hard-hitting, often humorous hip-hop in the process. Barry Healy met the man behind the new album ‘Offenses Against The State’.
Coming from a county famed more for hurling only one first question for Captiain Moonlight: “It began with the break dancing scene back in ’84”. It was through this he discovered “the musical side with the likes of Mantronix, Public Enemy and Rakeem. ’86 to ’91 was the golden era of hip hop for me; this is what got me into it. I started writing raps in ’88 but it was a while before I found my own style. Hearing Scary Éire blew it open for me, it showed how it could be done. I was always into more political hip hop like Public Enemy or British hardcore like Gunshot, Black Radical and London Posse. They had a very aggressive rat-tat-tat-tat sound which had a really big influence on me.”
Captain Moonlight’s new album ‘Offenses Against The State’ is record number four and the first since his ‘Agroculture’ trilogy. “How different is it to the ‘Agroculture’ albums? I’m not sure. It’s still me. its closer to the sound I’ve always wanted. It’s more to do with the hip hop I grew up listening to. This one’s far rawer than before, more sample based and influenced by early ‘90s, hardcore and British hip hop.” Lyrically he feels it is “a belligerent response to the way things are right now. It is as much to do with people and their response as much as it is to do with the government, but, with plenty of humour too.”
For example ‘Financial Rape Crisis At High Noon’ is “a song about people who give out about how bad things are, yet vote the same candidates in. Locally we have John McGuiness (of Fianna Fail) who criticised his party’s leadership and government when he was stripped of his Junior Minister’s job. The electorate voted him back in comfortably, seeing him as some sort of pseudo Irish rebel. Its bullshit, a nod and a hoodwink. People are voting the very same, they are not changing the system, just the heads of it”. Other songs like ‘Uniform State’ “deal with ideas of the alpha male Garda mentality” while ‘Fuck You Captain Moonlight’ is a “self-dissing take on the ‘Don’t Flop Ireland’ battle raps which I don’t do myself but there’s really sharp stuff happening there”.
Moonlight is fully aware of differing opinons on Irish hip hop, saying “nostrils tend to get raised when people hear an Irish lad rapping in his own accent especially in this country. It’s a strange thing, it has a divisive effect, a lot of people are really into it while others just can’t get it”. He’s unperturbed, “personally I write music for myself and through a love of hip hop and not for anyone else. I see a lot of artists like this too who deserve to be heard by a far wider audience. I don’t take what people think too much to heart but yes people see a difference between ‘hip hop’ and ‘Irish hip hop. Hip Hop as a mainstream it is probably the biggest selling genre in Ireland but most is imported from America. UK grime is making some headway which isn’t a bad thing but it’s taken so long for British hip hop to gain respect in its own right.”
“There’s a lot of really great Irish rap artists now. In the last five years a whole generation of lads coming through like Collie, Redzer and Nugget who have their own identity. They are the predominant sound now. It’s very hard to know how or when but some of these artists will breakthrough at some stage and if one gets through three or four will follow. I’m not sure how it will turn out at all but I’m happy with the level I’m at.”
Captain Moonlight will be gigging in December and January to promote his new album before starting work on his next release, ‘Scenes From A Land War’.
Download: Captain Moonlight – Banana Republican
Download: Captain Moonlight – OCD