On Monday night another milestone was reached as part of Operation I Hope Nothing Goes Wrong. We sat down with the DJ and picked out the music for the wedding.
It went reasonably smoothly, although a brief informal poll reveals what I had previously suspected: 100% of Irish brides-to-be, when questioned, believe that Snoop Doggy Dogg is an unsuitable choice for the opening song. Even the suggestion of 50 Cent’s 21 Questions ellicited hums and haws. The song is an exploration ‘for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health’. Despite Fiddy’s hard man exterior, his lyrics can be tender: “I love you like a fat kid loves cake”. Unfortunately other lines may not be so suitable:
If I was with some other chick and someone happened to see?
And when you asked me about it I said it wasn’t me
Would you believe me?
It’s probably best not to start off a marriage getting ones excuses in first. Other lines could perhaps leave the guests feeling nervous
If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century,
Could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?
That’s a lot to ask of anyone. It also begs the inevitable question – why all this talk of jail, Mr Cent? What exactly have you done? So it looks like we won’t be gently swaying on the dance floor to gangster rap. It’s a pity. Hip-hop has been an important part of my life and the lives of many young men who grew up in the tough townlands of Mid-Cork. We felt alienated from the music of our elders. Respected figures like Philomena Begley and Johnny Carroll – the Man with the Golden Trumpet – no longer held any fascination for a restless and disenfranchised youth. When hip hop burst on the scene, it resonated with us like Foster and Allen’s Bunch of Thyme never could.
The rage of the urban black youth in American ghettos like Bedford Stuyvesant, Haarlem, Long Beach County (2-1-3 BABY ONE LOVE) struck a nerve because the parallels with what we saw going on around our neighbourhoods spoke to us in a very real way. Ice Cube railed against the police constantly spying on him and his friends in their helicopters. We had the European Union doing the same thing 24-7, in their spy satellites to see whether we were claiming headage payments for imaginary cattle.
Snoop Dogg sipped on Gin n’Juice. Calves with chesty coughs got a rub of poitín. When Eazy E talked about chilling at the crib, we knew what they meant. Everyone in my hood had a crib – often until well past January 7th. Three Kings loitered on the mantlepiece and you just knew these homies were packing myrrh. That’s how we rolled.
Rural Ireland’s love affair with hardcore rap is not just confined to the mean lanes of Mid Cork. I once did a gig in Tipperary town (this comedy business does have its glamourous side). Backstage, exchanging polite conversation with the DJ for the show, I put forward the controversial opinion that “it seems like a nice town here”. I think the man spat slightly.
“’Tis a shithole. You know, the usual small Irish town. F***-all going on. This place needs waking up.” I didn’t know enough about Tipperary town to reply. Wikipedia is light enough on detail about the place, apart from the fact that it is “erroneously believed to be the county town” and it “boasts large butter making industries.”
What did he mean by “waking up the place”, I wondered? As the audience took their seats, the answer was revealed. For a full 20 minutes before the show started, people who were clearly Big Tom fans were forced to listen to a succession of heavy hitting gangster rap – there was Wu Tang Clan’s Killa Beez, Ice-T’s Body Count and who could leave out Dr Dre’s Nuthin’ but a G Thang.
It was hard to measure the crowd’s reaction. As Ice Cube explained how a drug deal is generally carried out in LA South Central, it’s fair to say that the front row – consisting entirely of grey perms – was transfixed. Cube continued:
I heard a knock on the crack-house door without the password
and her mom’s got the 12 gauge Mossberg
The homie said “yo, what’s for sale”
and the mom came out with a bag of ya-yo
Their enjoyment of it would have been enhanced if someone had explained to them that the password was a rudimentary security measure ‘12 gauge Mossberg’ was a shotgun and ‘ya-yo’ was cocaine. It would all have made sense. But there was no time. The music was faded out rapidly, the lights went down and the next words were the DJ gleefully shouting: “Ladies and Gentlemen your first act Colm O’Regan!”
It was a rough first few minutes on stage as I tried to get the audience’s attention back from the dusty streets of Compton, Los Angeles.
So I learned a lesson that night, there’s a time and a place for gangster rap. For the wedding we’ll pick something else to dance to. I don’t know what to suggest next. One option might be Scottish sludge-rockers The Lords Of Bastard. However a recent poll shows that 100% of Irish brides-to-be…