This Side Up hail from Sligo, not the first place one thinks of when trying to visualise the Irish equivalent to Compton or New York. Yet it would be a grave mistake to judge this book by its somewhat unorthodox cover; to do so would be to overlook an interesting and innovative musical endeavour. ‘3075’ is a collection of songs that boasts some great samples and a clear old-school hip hop influence. When they reference the Beastie Boys on True School it comes as no real surprise given that the album seems to pay homage to their classic album ‘Paul’s Boutique.’
The trio have clearly been raised on a hearty diet of high-quality hip hop, and their long hours of study have paid dividends – the tracks are slickly produced and each member has a masterful rhythmic flow. Standout track Nod Your Head, an elegantly composed metaphor for conformists of “sheeple” mentalities, has a hypnotic beat and engaging refrain. “In the morning/My phlegm sticks to the porcelain”, the opening line from Vice Grip, will ring poignantly true to anyone who has woken up after a night out with lungs filled with tar and gives an honest, even nightmarish account of one night rolling into the next, knitted together by wake’n’bakes and hungover days.
The album’s title itself – ‘3075’ – further nods to This Side Up’s position as outsiders in the rap world living as they do 3075 miles away from the birthplace of hip hop, New York, and this acknowledgement of their distance and willingness to engage it in a playful manner is one of the best things about the EP. Thematically, the album hits the right notes – touching on isolation, anger, alcoholism, conformity and on the group’s relationship with hip. However, the execution leaves much to be desired; lyrically, This Side Up sound graceless and unnatural at times due to the use of overly formal and verbose language, which is a pity, because it detracts from the numerous things ‘3075’ has going for it. When they relax and express themselves in a more natural vernacular they provide the most stimulating and insightful moments of the EP.
This Side Up have attempted to make hip hop from the ‘Wesht’ sound plausible and they just about pull it off on ‘3075’. It’s an enjoyable debut that shows a lot of promise, chalking off more than a few of those 3075 miles in the process but, it also shows that This Side Up’s journey is far from over. ‘3075’ is also available to download from Bandcamp here.
‘3075’ is also available to download from Bandcamp here.