Review: Ciaran Mac (@CiaranMac2014) ‘Took Your Time EP’

There’s an unfor­tu­nate opin­ion that’s far to com­mon on the hip-hop scene that rap is only accept­able if it’s delivered in an Amer­ic­an or Lon­don accent.  This is ridicu­lously stu­pid and those that live by this are only really hurt­ing them­selves ulti­mately because there are so many awe­somely tal­en­ted MCs who have accents oth­er than this that are put­ting out some of the highest grade hip-hop around at the moment.  For­tu­nately, the age of you­tube and band­camp has made it more pos­sible for artists to put out what they want to and for us, as listen­ers, to change what we hear out there, and there have been many hip-hop artists that have embraced this oppor­tun­ity.  One such artist is Glasgow’s ‘Ciaran Mac’ who recently released debut EP ‘Took Your Time’ via band­camp.  Ciaran made his debut at a secret coun­cil estate party in Glas­gow in 2013 and has stead­ily been build­ing his name on the Scot­tish hip-hop scene with vari­ous fest­ival appear­ances and gigs.

The EP opens with ‘Arrog­ance’, a track that’s the audio equi­val­ent of a punch in the face, in a good way, it leaves it’s impor­es­sion.  There’s no mess­ing about, Ciaran’s flow goes straight in fast and furi­ous to the point where you’re left won­der­ing how he man­aged to breathe.  The beat sits per­fectly under the vocal with the two wrap­ping around each oth­er flaw­lessly.

Track 2 ‘Go With It’ is one of the best tracks on the record.  The beat is sim­ple but effect­ive, start­ing with the kind of beau­ti­fully reflect­ive string arrange­ment you could expect to hear in a Michael Kamen score, which is then accom­pan­ied by a shuff­ling beat and more high-grade deliv­ery on the vocal.  Ciaran’s word­play is ser­i­ously spe­cial, there’s tongue-in-cheek moments, which are delivered sim­ul­tan­eously to down-to-earth lyr­ics and harsh real­it­ies cre­at­ing an inter­est­ing and enga­ging jux­ta­pos­i­tion.

Track 3 ‘Advice’ starts omin­ously with strings and synths which are then joined by a drum-machine beat, remin­is­cent of 80s hip-hop.  This old-skool vibe in the drum pat­tern fits per­fectly as when Ciaran comes in with his vocal he’s deliv­er­ing lines advising his peers of mis­takes they could make that would neg­at­ively affect their lives, the kind of mes­sage that old-skool hip-hop often used to be a vehicle for.  The sub­ject mat­ter and the lines delivered belie the MC’s age of just 21 and the hon­esty in the lyr­ics add an ele­ment of relat­ab­il­ity that isn’t often present in mod­ern rap.

‘Good Even­ing’ fol­lows as track 4 and is instantly dif­fer­ent to the pre­vi­ous track, with a rag-time sampling beat and much more light-hearted lyr­ics includ­ing the geni­us ‘They say you can’t stop time I have, but / just to prove a point I get my fuck­ing watch smashed up’.  The deliv­ery is again on top form, with Ciaran employ­ing some expert tim­ing that makes it hard to believe this is his debut.

Track 5 ‘Repet­it­ive Beats’ put us back in a more ser­i­ous tone with some more geni­us word­play and Ciaran demon­strat­ing that he can deliv­er a great hook.  His Glas­gow accent means that this track is prob­ably the only time you’ll hear the words ‘house’ and ‘youths’ rhyme.

Light-hearted ‘Wind Yer Neck In’ fol­lows as track 6 and will prob­ably have you nod­ding along with the smooth beat after a few bars.  Def­in­itely another high­light of the EP this track prob­ably best demon­strate Ciarans abil­ity and tal­ent for tongue-in-cheek lines and meta­phors, this is the kind of word­play that brings a grin to your face and the rhythms cre­ated by the flow are gold-stand­ard and innov­at­ive.

The EP closes with ‘Alone In A Crowd’, a bril­liant track that makes great use of sampling and has a heavy beat that powers away along with the vocal line to cre­ate hip-hop gold.

This is an amaz­ing record, and when you con­sider that it’s Ciaran Mac’s debut, it becomes even more amaz­ing.  In a sim­il­ar way to how Nas’ ground-break­ing debut ‘Ill­mat­ic’ cre­ated an audio sound­scape that gave insight into New York life, this record does that for Glas­gow, giv­ing the listen­er a per­fect sample of real-life grit, truth and social con­scious­ness but retain­ing an ele­ment of fun at the same time, just how hip-hop should be.  The pro­duc­tion through­out the EP (Bunty Beats, Sound Thief, Dis­co, Konchis, Cab Beats and Scat­ab­rainz) has been handled mas­ter­fully, the pro­du­cers have suc­ceeded in bring­ing out the best in the MC and have cre­ated some breath­tak­ing beats in the pro­cess, pro­duc­tion by Sound Thief on ‘Go With It’ being a prime example.  All the tracks have been kept short, the longest is 03:19.  This is wise as the qual­ity is so high each track invari­ably leaves you want­ing more, a great place to be.  Ciaran Mac has proved any­one who doubts rap with an accent oth­er than Lon­don or Amer­ic­an wrong and this record should see him pro­pelled from the Glas­gow scene were he has made his name, to the UK scene as a whole where he has the poten­tial to be a big play­er.  Highly recom­men­ded, the best hip-hop record I’ve heard so far this year.

Took Your Time EP by Ciaran Mac

Micky Roots

Micky Roots

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Micky Roots

Micky Roots

Micky roots is one of the edit­ors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visu­al artist he brings his strong know­ledge of hip hop, social con­scious­ness & polit­ic­al con­cern to No Bounds.

About Micky Roots

Micky Roots
Micky roots is one of the editors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visual artist he brings his strong knowledge of hip hop, social consciousness & political concern to No Bounds.

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