The Last Mixed Tape reviews Let the Dead Bury the Dead, the much-anticipated new studio album from Rusangano Family.
Let the Dead Bury the Dead is the kind of album that will be studied in future as an artistic impression of Ireland circa 2016. It’s important, it’s real and speaks of the here and now. Rusangano Family are a voice for a generation that feel they have none.
The music of Let the Dead Bury the Dead strides, head-up with its chest out. There’s a fearlessness about the production that jumps and cuts beats at will, making the whole record feel like its been delivered in a melting pot of inner and outer expression. Samples punctuate points and words while rhythms push them forward (see the gritty beat of ‘Heathrow’) making sure we never rest and remain focused on what Rusangano Family are trying to say. And they have a lot to say.
“I just wanted to be Harlem, I just wanted to be London, I just wanted to be Trenchtown. Now it’s time to be shining. Now it’s time to be Limerick” (taken from ‘Lights On’) may be one of the most era defining lyrics uttered on an Irish record in a long time. Rusangano Family’s music isn’t an impression of other places or sounds, it comes from their life here and their everyday experiences.
Let the Dead Bury the Dead is a mirror. Throughout the album Rusangano Family lay bare the prejudice (‘Heathrow’), sense of identity (‘Eyedentity’) and physical/mental abuse against women (‘Isn’t Dinner Nice’ which features the show-stopping performance from Denise Chaila) in way that’s unflinching and raw, but most importantly imbued with a will to change and effect the issues that they speak about. Be under no illusions, Let the Dead Bury the Dead is an album about positivity in the face of adversity, driven by frustration and anger at those that stand in the way of equality.
I once stated that Rusangano Family are Ireland’s answer to the Specials some 30 years later, and Let the Dead Bury the Dead is an affirmation of this. Not only is it a landmark in Irish hip-hop, it’s a landmark in Irish music full-stop. Few albums (with September Girls Age of Indignation being an exception) have captured the restlessness, frustration and want to act on so many of the issues that face our generation than Rusangano Family do on this record. Let the Dead Bury the Dead is the sound of Ireland 2016.
Let the Dead Bury the Dead by Rusangano Family is out now.