Mango – Interview

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This morning Dublin MC, Mango released the first single (stream below) from his upcoming album Casual Work. The versatile rapper gave us just a taste of what’s to come and it’s worth getting excited for. We caught up with him to discuss his debut project and much more:

How long would you say this album has been in the making?

“I’ve been trying to make a solo album since before I was in the Animators, in one form or another. It had many styles from boom bap to disco, but I think ‘Casual Work’ is the concept I’ve been happiest with. Proper work on the album began at the end of last year with writing and demoing tracks. Before then I’d been just recording to develop myself and my songwriting.

What has been the most influential element on the album?

“I found after getting out of a group I had so much time to soak up all different types of art and music that broadened my horizons, which inspired me to shift away from where I was at. I think with most people’s first albums it’s all very autobiographical; where they have an album of the story of their life and upbringing all laid down up to that point of release. I’ve already in one way or another dealt with that buzz and was conscious not to fill the album with it. So looking at My life in the last two years I noticed how it changed dramatically.
In 2014, my job went down the tubes, my band broke up, I split from a long term girlfriend and I lost friends and family members. The combination of all this meant I went on a year long sabbatical just going out and making up for the life I wasn’t living. I developed hugely as a person because of this and that’s the most influential thing for this album. It’s looking at my life and how it transitioned and the people around me doing the same. I’m making songs that reflect not just myself, but my generation.”

There’s a line on the new single, “if you’re not from here, you won’t get this”, do you cater specifically to the Irish audience?

“Not at all pal. I rap for anyone who feels it or relates to it. At the end of the day rappers should be the voices of their people. The sound of their surroundings, and that can resonate with people no matter where they’re from.
The same way Kendrick is unapologetically Compton, or Skepta is unapologetically London, I am unapologetically Dublin and Irish. People have never really looked at Dublin slang from the outside in because it’s never been presented to them in a way where they had to pay attention to it. Usually it’s been only seen in crime programs or Fair City. I can count on one hand the people in the Irish media who sound like me or my friends.
The way I look at it is, it’s the same way I had to decipher American or London slang or patois. So that’s what I want. People to decipher what we say over here because it’s such a beautiful and mental way of speaking. The people who want to know will do the homework.
That line is specifically for people who try to represent Ireland or Dublin, or a part of Dublin they aren’t and never have been familiar with, mixed with a bit of my civic pride, in the sense that I don’t have to rap like an American or an English person. I carry the flag for the city and the country in any way I can, so yes I make music for everyone from anywhere, but the music I make is from here and it’s sounds like it’s from here and I won’t change that.”

Do you enjoy the freedom of creating your own album? In comparison to working on the Animators album in the past.

“100%. I love working in a team of creative people who push each other to be more creative in a collaborative way. I encourage any musician to do this as much as they can but at the same time I wanted to say “I’m making a song about this or that” and then go and do it.
I’ve so many styles I can do and want to do that I wouldn’t have had in the Animators. When it came down to it, on the closest thing to a grime song we had called Play It Cool, I was the only one on it cause the lads just didn’t do that. It’s the same way they could rock different styles I didn’t want to. The freedom of creating my own album in a lyrical sense is that I can tell the story I want to.”

Do you think hip hop in Ireland has somewhat of a negative connotation?

“You know man, I used to. I don’t think so anymore. I think we’re past that. I think the wave of Irish rap I came in with put that to bed. Yeah there’s still clueless people who will think all Irish rap is the tired old cliché of shell suits, hash and poorly produced moanbags shiting on about suicide or heroin. But those people are still the people who say “oh? Rap music? like fiddy cent?!” And then do that awkward hand movement thing. Yeah fuck those people man they’re saps.
Hip Hop in Ireland quality wise is competing at a high level musically but nobody sees it. We still don’t have enough people making music for radio which is how they’re going to get on more people’s radars. At the same time I understand why they don’t, because apart from Mo-K and Stevie G, nobody will play it on the big stations. So the only reference to Irish rap the general public is getting is Bitch I’m from E Town or Top Notch battling in the park cause it’s cringey enough to go viral. But you’ve got rappers in every corner of the city putting out great and challenging material. People like Rebel Phoenix, Flynn Johnson, Dah Jevu, Lethal Dialect, Jambo are all making amazing hip hop in completely different styles. The young Afro Irish guys like Profound are gonna cause serious waves in a few years and of course my little brothers Haresquead signing a major record label is fuckin deadly to see.
I see people saying there’s no scene here and it’s got a bad rep. That’s a load of pony. Hip Hop here is better than it’s ever been.”

What producers have been working on the album?

“My brother Mathman. No one else. He’s not just making the beats but he’s producing this album. Best beat maker in the country hands down. That’s fact not opinion.”

“There’s no particular sound I’m looking for. It’s more electronic and sample free than my previous work but that’s just a reflection of who I am and what I’m hearing resonating through the city. It’s whatever me and Mathman feel is right for the album. He’s given me hundreds of beats, the man is a machine but I pick beats the same way anyone would. When I hear a track and just go wild or vibe to it and immediately grab my pen. That’s how I know it fits.”

The Irish hip hop scene seems to be growing and evolving everyday. Do you think it can make enough noise to become one of the country’s most respected genres?

“Yeah I think it’s well on its way if not already there man. Like Dublin used to be a rock city. Kids in bands with guitars are the minority because its now a techno city. It’s not bands packing out the clubs anymore it’s DJs. The dying off of the old guard who held everything and anything up to U2 and Thin Lizzy are fading away. The more the years go by the more diverse Ireland is and that means it’s now the norm for kids to play Stormzy or Action Bronson at a gaff party. That means more people are rapping and it is definitely more respected as a genre here and to be honest for every Irish rock or electronic artist that puts out great material I can point to some Hip Hop which is on par.
But it’s not about competing with other genres for me. Everyone now likes a bit of everything so It’s about saying ‘yeah that band is good’ and ‘this rapper is good too’.”

How would you describe your music to someone who’s unfamiliar with it?

“That’s hard man. I wouldn’t describe it. I’d ask them to listen to it and make their own minds up.
All I’ll say is that the general consensus so far has been that it’s Bleedin’ Deadly.”

Well Mango’s latest single certainly lives up to that general consensus. Listen to Badman, produced by Mathman, here