- 31 Dec 20
The Irish rapper, also known as Paul Alwright, has forged a reputation as one of the pillars of homegrown hip-hop. Active since 2006 and with four albums under his belt, Lethal Dialect has never lost sight of the need for the music to speak on behalf of – and to support the interests of – the disadvantaged, the marginalised and the deprived. During 2020, the artist returned to action, releasing the acclaimed 'LD50 Part 3'.
Lethal Dialect is back – and with a memorable scorcher of a gig too!
In a powerful set, broadcast on the Hot Press YouTube channel last night, Lethal Dialect showcased his fearless commitment to elevating personal stories of his local community.
The Button Factory performance was kickstarted with a guest feature, with female actor and voice-over artist Eva-Jane Gaffney telling the tale of an ex-heroin addict named 'Emily'. With hypnotic lines depicting the struggle a lone woman had to undertake to seek help for her addiction, Lethal Dialect acts as the voice of the Government in his part of the track - essentially asking for a boost in the polls and a guaranteed vote from Emily in exchange for placing her on a "database" that leads to nowhere.
In his customary style, Lethal Dialect lifts up those who society attempts to forget, with "unmarried young mothers" shoved to the bottom of the pile. Ending the track with a past clip of a politician denouncing this section of the public essentially as welfare cheats, LD effectively highlights Irish culture's ruthless treatment of the most marginalised people.
Homelessness, addiction, crime and isolation are recurrent themes throughout Lethal Dialect's impressive back catalogue. Tonight, the rapper uses lo-fi beats as backing tracks that put the spotlight firmly on his powerful words. Never one to hold back, his lyrics seem more relevant than ever now, given the current feeling of chaos and loneliness, as a result of the pandemic and the resulting widespread unemployment. With a consistent mental health epidemic on the island and a shocking lack of services, the way in which Lethal Dialect illuminates the stories of real people is intensely valuable.
Moving on to his track with GI, 'Outstr8', Lethal Dialect spits of the wealth gap between those stuck on the streets and those reprimanding them. Hailing from Dublin's Ballymun, LD observes the world around him with a grim sense of sadness – for those who have lost their lives and for the potential they once possessed that is now irredeemably lost.
Referencing drug dealers, lawlessness and a lack of education and public services in his local community, he sheds light on a reality far too many run away from. The power of the music lies in the empathy Lethal Dialect shows for Ireland's lost souls.
"To earn power and respect/ You have to learn the power of respect/ I learned it where it's needle infested/ Where dealers are vested..."
His 2019 single 'Red Hot' featuring Fly – one of his finest tracks – is delivered in a commanding style. With Cali-inspired beats and storytelling that speaks to the hard-working grafter, this is perfectly crafted lyrical hip hop.
He introduces a special guest, in the form of "elusive character" 4Real, to support his 2014 track 'Beast Mode' - and the duo's voices blend together in style. The song appeared on Lethal Dialect's 1988 with JackKnifeJ, and its take on the troubling form of masculinity which young men growing up in a difficult environment feel they must embrace still rings true.
The sense of abandonment felt within many working class communities is palpable, with 'Beast Mode' describing fearful scenarios and "wolves in sheep's clothing." It's a jungle setting with seemingly little chance to escape.
He signs off with 'Keep It Real' - taken from 2019's ld50 Pt. 2. Lethal Dialect dedicates the track to the late Tony Marshall from Cabra, with the song touching on a wide range of themes – from emigration, through the destructive nature of capitalism, to mass surveillance and disinformation. Finishing off in style by downing a pint of Guinness, Lethal Dialect thanks fans for tuning in:
"See you in the new year with a new album, new shows, new everything. Keep the faith."
Watch the powerful show in its entirely on the Hot Press YouTube channel below:
• This project was part-funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, the Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.