Seanchai and the Unity Squad started off as a hip-hop side project for Black 47’s uillien piper and sometimes vocalist, Chris Byrne, when he released “Come on ye Boyz in Green” back in 1994, to celebrate the Republic of Irelands World Cup campaign in the US that year. eMC Byrne became Paddy-a-go-go (along with Eileen Eivers and Pat Maguire) and subsequently Seanchai, as the others moved onto other projects.
While I liked the early releases, I never really rated Celtic-Hip-Hop as anything more then an enjoyable novelty. So when “Rebel Massive” arrived I was certainly curious (this is the first Seanchai release I’ve heard since the debut.) On paper, the whole concept of the Unity Squad just doesn’t work – a rapping, uillien pipe playing Irish-American ex-cop with a passion for reggae. A Dublin born, female DJ with an angelic voice and finally a big riffing NYC guitar player. On CD it’s pure genius. “Rebel Massive” is way more then a novelty CD, it fact it’s just a great CD, no matter what box you try and fit it into.
Must hear tracks include; the title, “Missa Erin” with Shane MacGowan and Damien Dempsey, the 2004 remake of “50 Pints of Stout” (House of Pain have been booted for the Dropkick Murphys), “New York Fenian Bhoys” (to the tune of “McAlpine’s Fusiliers”) and the absolutely must, hear incredible cover of The Clash’s “Straight to Hell” sung by Miss Rachel Fitzgerald. In fact the only song I don’t like is the plodding “We’re in Seville” – I suppose if Celtic had actually won things would have been different.