Rusangano Family is made up of God Knows, MuRli and mynameisjOhn — two MCs and one DJ. Based in the west of Ireland, the trio has been steadily building their own brand of dynamic bass-led music that doesn’t conform to genre clichés or style restrictions. Exploring issues such as identity and belonging, Rusangano Family deliver a hefty dose of honest double-edged lyricism over skewed soul samples, 808 beats and sliced-up breaks. They lit up the stage at SXSW in 2016 and were awarded the Choice Music Prize for 2016 Irish Album of the Year.
MynameisjOhn, MuRli and God Knows first appeared in 2014 with an album called Rusangano / Family, a title that laid out where the collective exist and where they’ve come from: Ireland, Zimbabwe, and Togo; Clare and Limerick. Wearing their hip hop and electronic influences proudly on their sleeves, Rusangano Family aren’t an act willing to conform to the styles associated with their respective backgrounds. Instead of struggling with the idea of being different, they celebrate it. On their album, they trade lines about what it’s like to arrive in a new land and feel out of place and also grapple with the identity crisis of feeling just as out of place in the traditional settings of their family home because they’re trying to fit in to new surroundings.
God Knows was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in Limerick. His fellow frontman MuRli was born in Togo before arriving in Ireland as a kid. Together with John Lillis, a County Clare native better known as MynameisjOhn, they formed Rusangano Family in 2014, formalizing a musical relationship that had been developing for years. Lillis’s production brings together hip hop, dancehall and grime, as well as the indigenous music of Togo and Zimbabwe, to provide a platform for the pair’s lyrics.
Photo by Kathrin Baumbach