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Sunday 31 August 2014

Rappers proud of their stand -- and their city

Luke Byrne

Published 12/01/2014 | 02:30

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Rapper Nathan Keane
Rapper Nathan Keane

They unwittingly found themselves at the centre of a national controversy over artistic censorship as the €6m Limerick City of Culture project descended into farce.

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Talented up-and-coming rappers Nathan Keane, 18, and Calvin McNamara, 17, had been asked to contribute a verse to the promotional song for the event.

But after CEO Patricia Ryan heard their lyrics, she asked for them to be changed.

"It's really not the image we want to portray," she told the event's production company, when the pair described the city as "looking rough" in the song. Now Nathan and Calvin, the young artists from the Moyross estate in north Limerick, have revealed how they bluntly refused to change the lyrics --despite Ms Ryan's objections

"She doesn't look through the same eyes as us," the pair explained to the Sunday Independent. "We sent an email to say we weren't changing the lyrics and that was it," Nathan said.

"We weren't changing the lyrics because that was our poetic licence. If we change the lyrics, we're not being true to ourselves."

The rappers said that there had been an increase in interest in their work since the issue came to light and that they disagreed with Ms Ryan's view of the lyrics.

"It wasn't portraying a bad image. If you look at the lyric that she has a problem with, it said: 'The city's looking rough when you're walking on the bridge'.

"But the next line is: 'It's the city where we're tough, there's no place you'd rather live'," Nathan said.

The pair got involved when collaborator DJ Andy Conn-elly was approached and asked for a contribution to the official promotional song for the event, Everything's Gonna Be Alright.

The rappers, who are due to release a debut album titled Ghetto Blues later this month, said they simply write about what they know.

"We have been rapping about three years. We're just looking at what's going on, about the way we live," Calvin explained.

The Moyross area has often been described as "troubled" and there have been numerous high-profile gang murders in the area over the years.

But Nathan said the area had received bad press unfairly and that estates across the country had suffered from trouble. "Moyross is a great community," he said.

"We're proud of where we grew up," Calvin added.

The estate has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons less frequently in recent years and one outlet for young people in the area is music, according to the rappers.

"The young people here look up to us, they see us as role models. If we can help them rap, it gets that all off their chest and keeps them out of trouble," Nathan explained.

Last week, Ms Ryan resigned from the €120,000 CEO position, blaming "speculation and commentary" about her appointment to the unadvertised 18-month job.

The issue came to a head following the resignation of artistic director Karl Wallace the previous week.

Irish Independent

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