One thing I know for sure is that we are overwhelmed by the respect that people have shown us.” God Knows, one third of mid-west hip hop supremoes Rusangano Family, is reflecting on a successful, if hectic, 2017.
After the critical plaudits received for their 2016 long player Let The Dead Bury The Dead, this year has been no less busy for Rusangano, who are based between Limerick and Clare. Some of the accolades that God Knows, fellow MC MuRli and producer mynameisjOhn have received over the past year have come as a big surprise to the group themselves.
God Knows namechecks the recent Irish Tatler Man Men of the Year Awards, where Rusangano Family picked up the music gong. “No disrespect to Tatler but we didn’t think that we were on their radar. We went as a courtesy and said we’d dress up for the laugh. We were a row away from Ibrahim [Halawa] and we are gassed that he was back. We were in awe to be around him and all these people doing great things in their community.”
Speak to any member of Rusangano Family, and the same humbleness is very much evident. Earlier this year, Limerick Life spoke to his bandmate mynameisjOhn, ahead of the prestigious Choice Music Prize. Rusangano were one of the nominees for Let The Dead…, and were widely tipped by insiders to scoop the prize for Irish album of the year.
During our conversation, mynameisjOhn spent more time heaping praise on fellow nominees like Lisa Hannigan and Katie Kim than talk up his own outfit.
Similarly, God Knows has to be reminded of that night when they won the award in March. “Because it was for an album in 2016, I forget that that happened this year. That was incredible. We didn’t think we were going to win; all our favourite musicians were nominated, like James Vincent McMorrow who is one of our favourites. All of these people make really great music. It was a massive shock.”
He admits that things like winning the Choice “put you on other people’s radars,” but that the trio had to decide whether they were going to continue touring non-stop in 2016, or whether they should take stock of what they achieved up to that point. “We took a little break as we were going and going and going,” he says.
Yet, it wasn’t exactly a case that Rusangano put the feet up for the rest of 2017. Two killer new tracks (and accompanying videos) dropped – ‘I Know You Now’ and ‘Tea In A Pot’. Another single, ‘Fireworks’, is on the way in early 2018, which God Knows says “is one of our favourites.”
The trio have done projects on their own and with others in the past, and God Knows envisages that could happen again soon. “We are all taking a break so that we can come back as a bigger machine. Don’t forget how great and talented mynameisjOhn is, and you may see something from Murli and even something from myself.”
The Rusangano live shows are rambunctious and triumphant affairs, and this year has seen a splattering of live appearances in locations as varied as London, Toronto, and Carlow.
21 December will mark one year and one day since the last time they stepped on the Dolan’s stage. “There’s a good reason for that. We love Limerick, this is our home. We always want to do a show that’s spectacular. If you do a show every two to three months, it gets a bit old,” explains God Knows.
The idea of doing a hometown show had been initially mooted quite a while ago. “[Promoter] John Hennessy from Seoda Shows was calling us the day of the Choice Prize in the morning, saying ‘you guys have won, let’s do a party in Limerick.’ Maybe he knew something that we didn’t know, but he was just making us more nervous!”
In the aftermath of the win, such a party was postponed, but God Knows assures those coming to this month’s show, that it is very much set to happen now. “Because we had been touring so much, we didn’t feel like doing a party. This is that hometown party. This is the celebration of everything Rusangano have done this year.”
Rusangano Family play Dolan’s Warehouse on Thursday, 21 December. More information at dolans.ie