Sunday 26 January 2020

Life story too nice for inner-city Rudeboys

John Meagher

John Meagher

big album of the week

the original rudeboys

This Life

(Gotta Run)


Such is its part in the fabric of daily life that it's hard to believe YouTube is less than seven years old. It's hard to remember a time without it. The site has had a huge impact on the music industry, and several of today's biggest names -- stand up, Justin Bieber -- can attribute much of their success to being "discovered" on YouTube. A note of caution, though, there have been innumerable examples of record companies trying to generate a viral buzz for supposedly unknown acts.

This Dublin trio -- from the comparatively deprived north inner city, as they remind us -- only formed last March, but their brand of acoustic guitar-driven hip-hop has proved to be a word-of-mouth success story, with several of their videos passing the one-million watches mark.

Now signed to Gotta Run -- a new imprint of the MCD-backed Rubyworks label -- any future success is likely to be carefully mapped out rather than "organic".

But can YouTube intrigue translate into hard sales? On the plus side, the group offer something that bit different -- there is no shortage of people rapping with a Dublin accent, but comparatively few choose to do so with sweet, gentle guitar music as a backdrop. And there's probably no hip-hop outfit on the planet that incorporate a ukulele into their sound.

On the other hand, the whiff of a Republic of Telly sketch is never far from the surface and the Rudeboys' appeal is likely to be limited to this country. I just can't see Sean "Neddy" Arkins' Dublinese rapping having any impact internationally.

Neddy is easily the best thing about the trio. He's no Eminem, but he has a decent way with words, throwing out socially conscious rhymes on such subjects as poverty and domestic abuse. And he displays a relatively wide range of rapping styles.

Robert Burch plays acoustic guitar and sings with an accent that's more mid-Atlantic than Monto. His music is cut from the same cloth as Jack Johnson and, sadly, it's every bit as bland. He has a way with melody, but his inoffensive delivery leaves much to be desired.

As do his lyrics, which are horribly prosaic and cliché-ridden, and make The Script's songs seem sophisticated by comparison.

What isn't in doubt is the radio-friendly nature of a handful of the tracks, including debut single Stars in their Eyes, which lays bare the trio's vaulting ambitions, and Sunny Days, a relentlessly upbeat number that appears laced with serotonin. But what's lacking is anything even remotely edgy or confrontational. The Original Rudeboys are just a little bit too nice.

Key track Sunny Days

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