Rusangano Family win Album of the Year at Choice Music Awards

The Limerick hip hop crew are celebrating tonight, as Let The Dead Bury The Dead earns them the top prize of €10,000

Ireland has a new set of heroes for the modern era. Hot Press favourites The Rusangano Family have beaten off the competition to snatch the Choice Music Prize for 2016, with their superb album Let The Dead Bury The Dead.

Beating off challenges from Lisa Hannigan, All Tvvins, Overhead, The Albatross, Katie Kim, James Vincent McMorrow, Bantum, We Cut Corners, Wallis Bird and The Divine Comedy, Rusangano's debut album Let The Dead Bury The Dead was the well deserved winner of the Choice Music Prize tonight at Vicar Street.

The third-from-last act to perform on the night, Rusangano took the crowd by storm with their performance, leaving no one in any doubt that they were seriously in contention.

There were wild and emotional scenes in Vicar Street when the result was announced. It was a major coup for the band, given the strength of the other contenders – notably the widely supported Lisa Hannigan’s At Swim, James Vincent McMorrow’s We Move and We Cut Corners' The Cadences of Others.

Let The Dead Bury The Dead has been critically acclaimed not just for its socially and politically engaged songs about modern Ireland, emigration and social problems but also for its musical ingenuity and power. However, there is little doubt that the decision of the judges also reflected a strong desire to embrace diversity, in a world where far too many countries have been regressing into a narrow-minded, mono-cultural – and generally white – nationalism.

The band themselves – comprising God Knows, MuRli and MynameisjOhn – were on an emotional high when the verdict was announced and they made no secret of it, talking ten to the dozen. "We are so shocked! We don't have any words and I'm an MC! We are so shocked! The one thing we have on our side is that we don't have a record label, we did everything on our own."

They also reflected the tough reality of what it is like trying to be a musician in Ireland.

"We wrote that album through pain and struggle and we all work – we all go to work in the morning and we will be celebrating this win with the kids we teach in Limerick and Clare. Big up Limerick and Clare!"

So great was their enthusiasm and so profound the generosity in their message that it was hard to keep from bursting into tears.

"We want to thank the Irish people. You guys made us! I wanna thank my mum, my lady – you gotta do that! – family first. Thank you!"

"I have to thank my mother – a legend! My girlfriend – a legend! My sister – a legend!"

By then, the floodgates really had opened!

“I am thrilled for The Rusangano Family,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “This is a real coming of age for Irish hip hop. There is so much great music being made by the new Irish and hardcore local hip-hoppers alike. But, as we have long believed in Hot Press, these guys are really special.

"I hope that their success tonight triggers an international breakthrough for them. Great young Irish artists like The Rusangano Family make music against the odds. They do it because they are passionate about wanting to express themselves – and also about making a positive impact on the world and on their community.

“We need to properly waken up, as a society, to just how important this is. The new breed that are coming through should be nurtured and supported. But that isn’t happening right now, with the extent to which the arts in Ireland are underfunded. That has to change.

“The recognition accorded to The Rusangano Family tonight should be the start of a complete reappraisal of priorities. They are a great band, with the potential to conquer the world. But they – and others like them, of every musical stripe – need far more support and encouragement than the current structures provide."


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