KNEECAP announce debut album ‘Fine Art’

KNEECAP press photo
Press shot credit: Sarah Ellis

Irish rap trio KNEECAP have announced details of their debut album, ‘Fine Art’. Released via Heavenly Recordings on June 14 and produced by Toddla T, the 12-track album, which seamlessly merges Irish with English and satire with socially conscious lyrics, is fiercely intelligent, consistently hilarious and genuinely thought-provoking. Theirs is a voice which comes screaming from the too-often deprived areas of the North of Ireland, speaking in a language which is too-often ignored.

The trio of Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap, and DJ Próvaí, who recently took this year’s Sundance Film Festival by storm with their self-titled Rich Peppiatt directed semi-biopic film starring Michael Fassbender, have today also shared the video for Sick In The Head, the latest track to be taken from the album.

The sound of the Wu Tang’s 36 Chambers hidden behind a doorway on the Falls Road, Sick In The Head features a chugging old school hip hop groove and dual voices frustrated at reaching the ends of both their overdrafts and their tethers. Talking about the track, KNEECAP said: “When working on the album we had periods of great productivity but also periods with a total lack of anything creatively. Towards the end of recording we hit a proper wall and this is the result. Our mental health was being tested and we said f*ck it it we’re doomed to mental torture we want to have some money to get through it. We’ve had enough of it while being broke round Belfast.”

Watch the video for Sick In The Head via YouTube below or listen via all platforms here.

Tour Dates

Mar 30 – New Parish, Oakland, CA (w/ Revival Season)

Apr 02 – Voodoo Room, San Diego, CA (w/ Revival Season)

Apr 04 – Echoplex, Los Angeles, CA (w/ Revival Season)

Jun 15 – Bergenfest, Bergen, NO

Jul 05 – Rock Werchter, Werchter, BE

Jul 11 – Mad Cool Festival, Madrid, ES

Jul 13 – Bitterzoet, Amsterdam, NE

Jul 18 – Heineken Big Top, Galway, IE

Jul 20 – Super Bock Festival, Lisbon, PT

Aug 23 – Reading Festival, UK

Aug 24 – Leeds Festival, UK

Nov 14 – Foundry, Sheffield, UK

Nov 15 – New Century Hall, Manchester, UK

Nov 16 – Barrowlands, Glasgow, UK

Nov 19 – Rock City, Nottingham, UK

Nov 20 – SXW, Bristol, UK

Nov 21 – O2 Forum, London, UK

– – – – – – – – – –

When KNEECAP entered the studio with producer Toddla T in the summer of 2023, they quickly decided to scrap everything they had already prepared for the album they were about to record. Instead, they decided to build a pub together.

Built on a West Belfast side street, The Rutz is a community boozer, in that the entire community uses it. All human life is inside, either thriving, striving or skiving.. Religious affiliations are irrelevant and the chatter is an intoxicating blur of English and Irish.

Although the pub is currently just a figment of the band’s imagination, all of the action on Kneecap’s exhilarating first album – ‘Fine Art’ – takes place in The Rutz immersing the listener in a world thus far unrepresented in modern music.

Across the record’s twelve tracks and the interconnecting moments between them (recorded by the band and friends including DJ Annie Mac), the pub comes to life vividly, providing the perfect backdrop for the cast of characters that join the dots throughout the album. From the moment the idea was born back in Toddla T’s studio, it was the obvious location to base the world of Kneecap in.

Mo Chara “When we got into the studio with Toddla T, we scrapped every song we had and started from complete scratch. T’s idea was to tell the story of Kneecap. So the record was conceived as the listener stepping into Kneecap’s world. That’s where the idea came to set whole thing in a pub. You walk into a pub at the start, there’s someone offering you a drink, there’s a singsong… really, it’s us taking you by the hand and leading you into our world.”

KNEECAP’s story began in 2017 with the release of their first single – C.E.A.R.T.A. (Irish for ‘rights’). The lyrics document a near miss with the RUC on the way to party, loaded up with enough illegal substances to warrant a stretch inside. While the track was quickly banned by Irish language radio station RTE for ‘drug referencing and cursing’, C.E.A.R.T.A. saw the band help usher Irish into the modern era thanks to some much-needed creativity with the terminology.

Mo Chara “We’re Irish speakers living in an urban area, the first or second generation to be born in the city. Traditionally it’s a rural language after colonialism pushed it out west towards the sea. We wanted to bring the Irish language into the modern era by incorporating aspects of youth culture into it. There’s a different lifestyle in the city to rural areas. There were no words for drugs in the Irish language so we had to invent them. We’d recycle old words and apply them to modern things. That’s part of the world we want to create, where the Irish language is central and it’s modern.”

Moglaí Bap “The beauty of Kneecap is that we not only piss off people from the Unionist background, we also piss off people from the Irish community.. We don’t discriminate who we piss off. There’s conservative people in the Irish language community who think that the language should be sustained as an ancient language in all its beauty. They think we’re ruining the language with the words we’re using. But you start to hear young people using some of the words we use in our songs, referring to drugs or party life. That feels like we’re having a positive effect on youth culture.”

Featuring vocal contributions from Lankum’s Radie Peat, Grian Chatten of Fontaines D.C. and Jelani Blackman, that positive effect comes into its own on Fine Art. A hip-hop record in the sense that the glorious sprawl of ‘Check Your Head’ was, its approach to modern music is magpie like, reflecting how an evening of music might evolve at a festival, or inside the right kind of pub. Where the band’s previous mixtape 3cag reflected life and issues in Ireland at the point of recording, ‘Fine Art’ was always intended to be about the band themselves.

KNEECAP Fine Art cover artwork

‘Fine Art’ track listing

1. 3CAG (ft. Radie Peat)

2. Fine Art

3. Ibh Fiacha Linne

4. I’m Flush

5. Better Way To Live (ft. Grian Chatten)

6. Sick In The Head

7. Love Making

8. Drug Dealin Pagans

9. Harrow Road (ft. Jelani Blackman)

10. Parful

11. Rhino Ket

12. Way Too Much

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