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15 For ’15: God Knows + mynameisjOhn

GodKnows + mynameisjOhn

Having already featured Alana HendersonElastic SleepOh BolandSissyAxis OfBoyfightsPrincessNew GodsRobocobra Quartet and Night Trap, the next Irish act in our 15 For ’15 feature is God Knows + mynameisjOhn. Make sure to check this and all the rest of the featured acts out in the physical version of our January/February magazine, out soon.

Words by Dean Van Nguyen. Photo by Colm Moore.

Eric B and Rakim, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg; the history of hip-hop is loaded with producer and rapper collaborations that have seen both artists elevate the other in the same way great actor-director team ups punctuate the history of cinema. Call it chemistry. Call it telepathy. Whatever the case may be, these pairings have the power to define the careers of each as individuals.

Add God Knows + mynameisjOhn to the list. Over their debut mixtape Rusangano/Family, released last year, the Shannon-based God Knows – an incisive MC with a style that draws influence from grime and dancehall – raps over mynameisjOhn’s mauling electronic beats in a manner so natural, it’s easy to see what drew the duo together.

Born in Zimbabwe, God’s lyrics cover often unheard topics like defining his self-identity as an African raised in a country not known for its multiculturalism, sewing a fun toy chest of pop cultural references into his intricate flow to boot. John, meanwhile, gives him plenty of good looks, including idiosyncratic MF DOOM-palatable beats (‘Throw The Spear’), afrobeat-tinted instrumentals (‘Marato’) and the darkest reaches of UK garage (‘Raise the Bar’).

It all adds up to one of the most credible hip-hop releases to come out of Ireland in the past few years. “I am Irish grime and I will be for a very long time,” raps God on the sombre ‘Habbakuk’. It’s hard to argue with him. Dean Van Nguyen

is the editor of The Thin Air. Talk to him about Philip Glass and/or follow him on Twitter @brianconey.