- 30 Oct 20
Clonsilla rapper explores loss and vulnerability on debut album.
With unabashedly earnest, heart-on-sleeve lyrics, former law-student-turned-dog-walker Nealo has emerged as an unlikely hero of Irish hip-hop. All The Leaves Are Falling arrives on the crest of a sudden but mighty wave of expectations and adulations – with the Dublin rapper’s central message of love and positivity focused into one full-length project for the first time.
Packed with localisms, Nealo shines in tales of the ordinary – with realist stories that twist around Dublin estates, J1s and Chinese takeaways. And while other successful Irish rappers have leaned heavily into humour as a lyrical device – a reflection of our own historic discomfort with taking ourselves too seriously – Nealo’s project is notable for the sheer fact that it is unapologetically sincere, in a manner that would usually make Irish audiences wince.
In many ways, Nealo frames All The Leaves Are Falling as an Irish answer to Saba’s CARE FOR ME – delving into loss in a similarly introspective and vulnerable vein, while also making jazz-flavoured musical references to the Chicago rapper’s grief-stricken masterpiece. It’s through this ability to find strength in raw expressions of emotion that Nealo marks himself as a unique force in homegrown hip-hop – an emissary from an emerging generation in Ireland that no longer wants to hide from its pain.