With their last album, 2006's Choice-nominated Now This You Have to Hear, Dublin-based hip-hop duo Messiah J & The Expert not only rooted themselves in the consciousness of the Irish music-buying public, but made steps towards becoming a more diverse musical act in the process. You may not have heard the pair's intelligent, memorable, and often slapdash medleys on the radio that often - but that could be set to change with this, their third full-length offering.
For starters, there are a number of potential hits here: the buzzy, funky creativity of Megaphone Man, the smooth soul duet (with female vocalist Joanne Daly) of Amnesia Comes Easily, The Bill-meets-Doctor Who-theme-tune vibe of Jean Is Planning An Escape, or the slick funk of The Year of the Genie are all fluid, rhythmic delights that are bursting with eclecticism and creativity. Geography, too, is a particular standout, with Kieran and Ro of indie heroes Delorentos providing the chorus to a heady concoction of samples, beats, synths and brilliant key changes.
Messiah J has also opened his eyes and lyric notebook to the wider world this time 'round: from domestic abuse to political apathy, he captures the essence of each topic he raps about succinctly and often not without beauty or humour (see ode-to-growing-older Turn the Noise Down, or the rousing Tomorrow Is Too Late).
Hip-hop, and especially Irish hip-hop, is often unfairly dismissed as something of a trivial genre, or simply music that soundtracks a gathering of skangers on street corners. Messiah J & The Expert are one of the acts doing their damndest to turn that notion on its head, and with From the Word Go, they do so not only convincingly, but with stunning style and aplomb.