Widely hailed as one of Dublin’s best rappers, and more recently garnering a degree of web fame from his battling exploits on Don’t Flop and DFI, Balleyfermot emcee Nugget enjoys a pretty high status in the Irish hip-hop scene; however his life couldn’t be further from the attendant glitz and glamour one might expect accompany such stature in the music biz: he’s unemployed, destitute and overweight with heart problems, and with seemingly no long-term career prospects he’s about as far removed from the boastful, blinged-out, narcissistic rap caricatures we all are used to hearing in the mainstream. Pursuing rap music with little to no remuneration, Nugget is very frank about the fact hip-hop will never be a viable career, let alone a means of paying the bills. In Ready To Diet however, he overcomes, emotionally at least, the inevitablity of his situation with a blithesome Irish wit, an arsenal of multisyllabic rhymes and a natural ability to storytell. Featuring a plethora of the Emerald Isle’s finest hip-hop talent, including Dublin hip-hop stalwarts Redzer, Siyo and Collie, Nugget’s sophomore album far surpasses his 2009 debut release The Nugget You Love to Hate in terms of subject matter, confidence of self-expression and overall weightiness (if you excuse the pun).
An openly vulnerable and amiable character, Nugget (real name Gary Nugent) is fully open about his feelings: like a good book, the album shifts seamlessly from one chapter to the next with a narrative punctuated by uninhibited bouts of self-loathing, self-deprication and intimations into his frail psyche. Nonetheless, this seemingly desultory narrative is held together firmly by an overarching positivity exuding from the author, and an uplifting sense that things will work out and that he’ll remain happy, despite the grim reality of his largely self-imposed predicament. The self-depricating antithesis, not only of the champagne-swilling chart rapper du jour, but also of the archetypal saturated-in-bitterness underground emcees, Nugget is able to channel his pain and anguish through, not only his humour, but also through his tight, solidly structured emceeing skills — it’s is a reminder how fun and how serious hip-hop can be at the same time.
A work overseen by Irish hip-hop mastermind Terawrizt, Ready to Diet features production from such homegrown Irish talent as Tony Mahoney and Noize Thievery, as well as international underground producers Wyze Intellect out of Canada and UK beat maker extraordinaire Pro P out of Manchester. Lamenting keys and acoustic guitar loops are held together by magnificent analogue production that provides a vivid, but not overbearing backdrop to a series of compelling narratives. Don’t expect dance-floor stompers or a blending of experimental styles in this one: Ready To Diet is about as orthodox and old-school as it gets — both in terms of production and themes/content.
A rapper as well as an able chronicler, Nugget is evidently more comfortable telling tales of life on a track rather than fussing over which punchline works best (though dope punchlines aren’t entirely absent from this, they’re not used at all gratuitously). Indeed, he surpasses the common stylistic stumbling block of battle emcees in translating a typically ‘braggadocious’ style into something that works musically — though an overbearing ego and an unenlightened sense of self-importance are things Nugget is evidently mature enough not to subscribe to. Travelling with a disheveled swagger, but endlessly charming with it, Ready To Diet proves that all you really need to make thrilling hip-hop is to rhyme from an authentic place.
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