ChoiceCuts are bringing rap legend RA the Rugged Man and his freestyle prodigy A-F-R-O to The Sugar Club next month!

R.A the Rugged Man is one of those artists that you may not have heard of but who has been omnipresent at the top of the his game for decades. With a AAA list of collaborators that include The Wu-Tang Clan, The Alchemist, Tech N9ne, Talib Kweli, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap and Notorious B.I.G, who famously said in reference to R.A “and I thought I was the illest!”

Take a dive into his back catalogue and you will quickly find yourself hooked into his lyrical flow. R.A’s skills on the mic are undisputable and his lyrics range from funny and sarcastic to deeply angry and profound like on the track ‘Uncommon Valor’ which chronicles his fathers experience in the Vietnam war, whose exposure to Agent Orange left R.A’s brother Maxx physically and visually impaired and his sister Dee Ann unable to walk or speak.

After his albums were shelved by major labels he took things into his own hands, organising independent shows, pressing his own vinyl singles and racking up one of the most impressive resumes in Rap history.

In 2015, R.A ran a freestyle contest on Youtube for young unknown rappers. It was here he came across A-F-R-O, or All Flows Reach Out (Real name James Gutierrez), a then 17 year old bespectacled afro sporting kid from Southern California. R.A took AFRO under his wing and now the two are partners in paying homage to the rap greats and continuing to push the boundaries of the craft.

Under R.A’s mentorship, A-F-R-O is ushering in a new era of excellence for rap traditionalists, spitting sick rhymes over simple beats. No auto-tune, no trap breakdowns and certainly no pop starlets in the chorus. This is old school to its core. AFRO raps so fast sometimes it’s difficult to even keep up and his ability to do this straight off the top of his head is nothing short of mind blowing.

Next month’s show will be a rare opportunity to see these 2 hip hop heavyweights up close and personal in an intimate setting and I for one cannot wait!

The show part of the Beck’s Rhythm Series on Monday November 20th and tickets are available on The Sugar Club website for €20.

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LIVE REVIEW: Too Many Zooz go ape at The Sugar Club

New Yorkers and self described ‘Brass House’ trio Too Many Zooz hit The Sugar Club on Saturday night for the first of two sold out shows in the capital as part of the Becks Rhythm Series. The former buskers haven’t been around that long, but in a short time have racked up a legion of followers after a video of them performing their  unorthodox brand of electro-acoustic tunes in a New York subway station went Viral in 2014.

Since then the group have been extremely prolific, recording and releasing 4 EP’s, 6 Singles and a full length album entitled ‘Subway Gawds’. They’ve also toured extensively and even collaborated with Beyoncé at the CMA Awards. Not too shabby!

Support on the night came from Dublin Neo-soul outfit Akora. Having been acquainted with the musical stylings of most of the members (they’re some of the sickest session players in town), this was my first time seeing their new venture live and boy am I happy I did. There are some serious songwriting chops on show here. The kind of complex layered music that takes years of practice to make look this effortless. The bass and drums provide a rock solid foundation for guitars and keys to riff over, while lead singer Ciara O’Connor ‘s vocals drive through the tracks, subtly filling the sonic gaps in the soundscape. The set encompassed elements of soul, electronica, RnB and breakbeats all blended together skilfully into an entirely separate beast. Check these guys out live as soon as you get the opportunity. For now head over to their Breaking Tunes page and listen to their demos, which are as polished and well written as any tracks you’ll find blasting through the radio.
 Too Many Zooz arrived like returning heroes to cheers and screams from the assembled crowd. They wasted no time, bursting in to a set of hi-tempo tracks that really showed off the level of skill all three virtuosos posses on their instruments. Drummer  David “King of Sludge” Parks  is a bonafide human metronome, knocking out ridiculously precise and complex rhythms at a breakneck speed. This would be enough to make your jaw drop, but when it’s combined with the speed and precision of Matt Doe’s trumpet solos and the note perfect groove of Leo Pellegrino’s baritone sax it’s pretty unbelievable. These cats can BLOW!

Leo combines this skill with some pretty killer dance moves throughout the set, bouncing and sliding across the stage at a near constant pace, somehow never missing a beat on the sax. Their stage presence is palpable. The whole scene is a lot of fun and the crowd are loving it! Every single person is on their feet by the 3rd or 4th song, including the mostly seated sections of the venue. Joining in is pretty irresistible. They fill a surprising amount of sonic real estate for such a small group with the trumpet covering the high end and the sax acting like a bass guitar/synth, all the while driving forward with an eclectic mix of percussive sounds and rhythms.

One criticism I would level is that the tracks can become a bit repetitive. It’s difficult to maintain this mardi-gras level of excitement for an hour plus show, but that could just be me. The energy on stage never dips once. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the music takes to stand the test of time, whether more members will join or some texture will be added with backing tracks. Although it could be argued that this would take away from the raw intensity on display, which would surely be a shame. One thing is for sure, these guys are definitely worth checking out the next time they swing by your neck of the woods.  Kudos to ChoiceCuts for continuing to book such brilliantly eclectic acts that you just don’t get anywhere else in the country!

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