In the back of a crowded shed in a pub in Dingle, the rapper Mango takes off his hoodie. "I'm sweatin' like I have a mortgage," he says in his thick Dublin accent to a very captivated afternoon crowd. This gig is part of the Other Voices Music Trail and, while a number of these gigs tend to be gentle affairs by the fireside, Mango and MathMan, his accomplice on decks, manage to turn this gathering into a sweaty rave.
As part of Ireland’s burgeoning hip-hop scene, Mango and MathMan have been impressing everyone and anyone that winds up at their sets. Dressed in track bottoms and runners, they hop on the stage as two boyos and then turn into an unstoppable force. Their energy is infectious and, with the quick wit of Mango keeping us entertained between songs, there’s a lot to love.
Piecing together the gruffer sounds of grime, UK garage, rave and hip-hop, they make something entirely new by lacing it with localisms. Rapping in a fresh-cut Dublin accent, Mango spits out clever and multilayered references. "When they see me they sound the alarms/Keep three stripes down my arms/Connects from the Mun down to the Barn/So just know you've been warned," he drums out on Badman, their first single. Nothing is Americanised here because their magic lies in making music that captures the Dublin spirit.
When they perform, Mango is the energetic frontman, riling up the crowd to near hysteria. MathMan stands at the back, coolly laying out the next track, only for him to cut it out if the crowd isn’t hyped up enough. As a duo, they complement each other perfectly. They are the calm and the storm all in one, and they know how to work a room, with their approach of “inducing old-school rave parties for a new Ireland”.
Wheel Up, their first EP, hit number two on the Irish iTunes charts when it was released, and the brilliantly titled Rapih (Selecta) made it to Spotify's Grime Shutdown playlist, alongside UK grime legends Stormzy, Giggs and Wiley. But if you go looking for Mango on Spotify, make sure you're actually listening to him and not Mango, the Lithuanian pop group whose album makes an appearance once Wheel Up comes to an end. The Lithuanian Mango is fine for a while but it's not what we signed up for.
They have been making music together since 2016, but the last 12 months have been incredible for Mango and MathMan. Whether they’re playing in a shed or at a festival, they develop a bond between them and the audience, and even if you’re not throwing your body fully into the music, you’re utterly charmed by the pair of them. If Dublin grime wasn’t on your radar before, then these two will get your attention, making it difficult for you to shake them off.
This week we’re unfriending: music snobs
You've probably seen a few Best Of 2017 lists doing the rounds online. Between the readers and reviewers of The Ticket, we've decided that Kendrick Lamar and St Vincent are our top picks, but be wary of the people who insist that the b-sides and rarities release of a 1997 indie album deserve their place on that list, or any list actually. There's a special kind of music snobbery that rears its head with end of year lists and if someone comes for your top 10 looking for a fight, you must delete them now.