There is no doubting that eighteen-year-old Wexfordian rapper and Hip Hop artist Evan Murphy is a poet concerned with social justice, the travails of modern youth, and the pointlessness of politics. How brave of Murphy (or ‘Evolution’) to put himself out there and speak for his generation through the medium of music. Evolution’s lyrics perfectly embody the common concerns and struggles faced by young people. He alludes to his own experiences of bullying, pressure to conform and the inadequacies of the ‘powers that be’ to address major world issues. “The World We Live In” is his first EP, and I really must say that he has made a decent job of it.
As a whole, the EP has an undeniably classy feel to it. This is particularly evident in the backing tracks, which include violins, harps, piano and trumpet, all kept together by a steady drum beat. This generally runs smoothly. At times, the accompaniment feels like a 1930’s film soundtrack, particularly in the song “Time Waits for No One”, which towards the end evokes thoughts of classic Hollywood. On other tracks it unexpectedly flips to a sound more redolent of the iconic early 1970’s movie “Shaft”. This is refreshing to hear in a world where music is becoming increasingly dominated by layers of synthetic white noise generated by machines. ‘Evolution’ stands out for not conforming to this trend – one that is quite common in much of the rap music we hear in the charts. He has his own style and his own sound, which sets him apart from the crowd.
The one criticism I would have to offer for the backing music is that at times I felt as though the drum beat could become somewhat intrusive, contrasting too much with the rest of the sounds and taking away from the quirky uniqueness of the songs– this was especially noticeable in “Honesty” and “These Bars”. When I first listened to track number five, “Make My Own Dream”, I did a double-take. The backing-track is almost identical to the 1980’s song, “Money for Nothing”. Obviously and delightfully, it would seem that Evolution is influenced by the marvellous “Dire Straits”!
Another unusual departure manifests itself in Murphy’s voice frequently assuming a quality that is too rough for the work being performed. His accent also strangely alternates between that of Wexford and Dublin – though this is only a minor criticism for which he can be forgiven, since he did not commit the mortal sin of trying to sound ‘American’.
The sentiments on this EP are definitely ones that a young audience can relate to – and Evolution deserves to get that audience. Though despite all of the good points there is just something about the sound that does not seem to come together in a unified way. As standalone entities, each unique element is laudable, but the songs more resemble a lucky dip experience than a ‘single flavour’ one. I am guessing that is because Evolution is only eighteen-years-old who is experimenting and trying to find his voice. This lead in time is perfectly natural in any artistic field.
On countless occasions I have wished that I was in Greenwich Village in the 1960s listening to the Beat poets. Evolution might be Ireland’s poetic equivalent in 2015.