Belfast isn’t widely known for its hip hop. That could all be about to change next month when Jun Tzu releases his album ‘The Troubles’.
‘The Troubles’ is about much more than the music. It’s a very personal record that has been 7 years in the making. All the music was contributed by Jun Tzu’s family and friends. For those who still like to read the lyrics there are 16 pages of beautiful artwork with the cd (for details how to win a copy of the cd see below).
‘The Troubles’ will be like nothing you have heard before. In a world of conformity and imitation this is a genuinely unique piece of work stuffed full of style and substance. It’s a musical and lyrical autobiography that wrestles with the head melting dichotomy of growing up British in Northern Ireland and Irish in Britain. It’s about coming to terms with growing up as the son of a political ex-prisoner in Northern Ireland. It’s about the day to day struggle of a young man trying to make it. It’s an antidote to cynicism.
Jun Tzu doesn’t pull his punches. In ‘Wee Jonny’ he explains his frustration with much of the music industry:
‘I’ll tell you what pisses me off, right? See all these rappers? There’s loads of them. And they all sit there and they all write their songs their whole lives and it’s just lyric after lyric of bullshit. They have nothing that they feel they need to say. There’s no real content.’
‘The Troubles’ is a collection of stories told with brutal honesty that move effortlessly between anger, humour, compassion, and confession. There are stories about growing up, trying and failing to make it, and watching while everything around you goes to hell. These are songs that will appeal to people who feel they are on the ropes and battling against the odds. In ‘Irish Eyes’ Jun says:
‘It’s hard to smile when your life is a shambles’.
Photo by Darren Anderson
Fans of Jun Tzu will love new versions of ‘Born in Belfast’, ‘Wee Jonny’, and the powerful ‘Here lies a Soldier’.
The album is packed full of humour and self depreciation, classic Northern Irish traits. ‘My Daddy’ recalls growing up in Rathcoole, eating sliders (ice cream), and visiting Belfast zoo. Newtownabbey has never sounded so cool.
‘Bloody Brothers’ follows Jun when his family moved away from Northern Ireland, first to Wales and then to Manchester. In Manchester Jun and his brother were labelled Irish by their peers – a strange experience for the sons of a former Loyalist prisoner – and they didn’t take it well, getting into all sorts of trouble on the way.
‘A Cause Worth Living For’ is written from the perspective of Jun Tzu’s father ‘Packie Hamilton’, who was brought up in Rathcoole and lived near a young Bobby Sands before the conflict erupted in the late sixties. He recalls being beaten up and thrown into a river by a gang of Catholics as a child. From this experience he learnt two things: how to swim and not to play to Catholics.
The song goes on to tell how Packie later got involved in the conflict and joined the Tartan Gangs and the UVF. He was then sentenced to spend time in the Maze prison, being labelled a ‘hopeless case’ by his mother, before undergoing a religious conversion while still in jail.
‘Here lies a soldier’ is the final song on the album and deserves a special mention, not just for how it is crafted musically but for the maturity of the lyrics. It’s a song about the futility of violence and the human cost of conflict, and pays tribute to combatants from all sides who lost their lives in the conflict. It ends with this dedication:
‘This song is dedicated to the men who have laid down their lives, to the men who have fought and died in the wars of mankind. This song is dedicated to the women, all the women who have suffered, and to the children, the children who have been scared and affected by the Troubles.’
To be entered into a draw to win a copy of ‘The Troubles’ just do two things:
1. Share the public post about this article on my facebook page before 11th August
2. Like Jun Tzu’s facebook page.
Winner will be announced week beginning 12th August.
Jun Tzu will be performing the full album live at the Stendhal festival, Limavady, on Saturday 9th August.
You can buy the cd version of the album through this LINK or at shows from 9th August, or on iTunes from 29th August.
Check out ‘Born In Belfast’, the first track on ‘The Troubles’, below: