Mango X MathMan: Casual Work review – A powerful call to arms

Fri, Nov 8, 2019, 06:00

   
Mango x Mathman provide hope in a time when hope is only afforded to some.  

Album:
Casual Work

Artist:
Mango x Mathman

Label:
Self-release

Genre:
Hip-Hop & Rap

“ . . . Yer actin’ the b****x right now, man. Yer messin’ a whole load of people around. I know you’re after breakin’ up with that bird, man, but it’s no excuse. Look. I think we can really make a go of this so givvus a call when you’re ready to work.”

 With no job, no girlfriend and no chance of escaping to Australia, Dublin rapper Mango (Karl Mangan) walks us through generational lows on his debut album with producer MathMan (Adam Fogarty), who lays down beats that swell from soft to ferocious on a powerful call to arms against capitalism, classism and no hopeism. The coaxing words above are courtesy of MathMan who jolts his mate out of a downbeat daze and back into reality on Gimme a Call.

Spitting out what so many keep locked up inside, Mango illustrates the challenges that come with being a young man who wants to turn things around on the soulful and gritty Lord Hear Us. Facing a court case for stealing a pair of Nike runners and a North Face jacket, he doesn’t want to be defined by the things that threw him off course, like not fitting in in the education system or getting caught up in local violence. “You make money on your own and you never go home ‘Cause your Ma’s in a mood and your Da’s jarred,” he hits. “Said there’s no hope for us. We hope there’s hope for us.”

Collaborating with Lisa Hannigan on the melancholic Deep Blue, this despair throws its head to the changing landscape of Dublin and how you can still call this place home even when developers keep trying to push you out.

While Dublin is a main focus of Casual Work – texting girls without a care in the world and fellas taking off their shirts with the first hint of sun, Any Other Place is a balmy ode to endless summer days – this is more than just a record about living in the city. It chronicles the difficult journey from repressing emotions to vividly expressing them. It’s about manhood and how to be the best version of yourself, without buying into the stereotype of being the big lad (Chest Out). It’s proof that low points aren’t permanent and that better things will come your way with luck, time and self-belief and the occasional reminder from your sister to keep your Chin Up.

Incomparable but certainly influenced by the London grime scene, modern Irish hip-hop is one of the most underrated genres right now and, like all scenes, the community born from it is a lifeline for so many. Mad Ting glimpses into that. When society’s doors are closed because of your accent or your address, when you make it to the gig, magic happens among your tribe. Whether the mic is in your hand or you’re one of sweaty many in the moshpit, you belong there. Against every single odd, you belong.

If you don’t believe in the importance of giving people the space to express themselves or the necessity of second, third or fourth chances, closing track Said and Done is a testament to that. Addressing the three times that he tried to take his own life, he raps: “Secrets I would keep in my heart, I could only speak through my art, god knows I need a new start”.

Finding the fighting words for mental, physical and artistic survival on their daring debut, Mango X MathMan provide hope in a time when hope is only afforded to some.