Seanchai I [Shamrock] New York
Finally, the new Seanchai & The Unity Squad CD is out. After a few delays and production problems, the finished product is WELL worth waiting for. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Seanchai (let's face it, that would be almost everyone!), they are the only "Irish Hip-Hop" band that I've ever encountered. They are Chris Byrne (AKA Seanchai, which means storyteller in Gaelic), Rachel Fitzgerald, David Monaghan (AKA Monty) and Flo McDonald (AKA D.J. Flo).
Byrne, a former NYC police officer and rapper/piper for Black 47, was inspired to release the single "C'mon Ya Boyz n' Green" under the name Seanchaí when Ireland's team advanced to the World Cup in 1994. Involved with several hip-hop related side-projects, he eventually left Black 47 and formed Seanchai & The Unity Squad.
Four CD's, a few club tours and a permanent Friday night residency at Byrne's Rocky Sullivans pub in New York City and they are going strong.
I was first exposed to this unique blend of rap, reggae and traditional Irish music by my father-in-law. It took several listens, but eventually, Seanchai's There Will Be Another Day became one of my favorite CD's. Roughly a year ago, there were rumours about a new CD. I started checking the website almost daily in anticipation. Sample tracks, rough mixes and the new version of "C'mon Ya Boyz n' Green (Japan Remix)" all became available and were burned onto mix discs. However, I still couldn't wait for the full album.
The CD is a mix of old-school DJ rapping, Irish ballads and tributes to New York. It is heavily inspired by the events of 9/11/2001 on tracks like "Gates Of Hell," a slower more brooding tribute to the Police and Firefighters of NYC and my personal favorite, "Holy Ground," a beautiful, flowing ballad dedicated to the victims of 9/11/2001 where Rachel really shows her vocal range. Byrne has revisited and updated, "Montauk," and "Wake Up Irishman," songs he originally recorded with a previous project, Paddy-A-Go-Go. They sound fantastic. The originals were recorded live and I liked them, but these sound absolutely great. Songs like "Can't Get My Head Around It," and "U.N.I.T.Y. Squad" really show how the blending of these two musical styles can work, using Irish instruments like the uilleann pipes, bodhran and bagpipes, looping music tracks and backing it all with the flawless scratching and beats of DJ Flo.