Kneecap: six songs to listen to first from the west Belfast trio

Here’s where to start with Ireland’s most controversial musical export

 Kneecap: Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Próvaí
Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Próvaí make up the Irish rap trio
FOLLOWING Kneecap’s US TV debut on The Tonight Show, we thought it best to service new fans of the Belfast trio who are dipping their toes into their music for the first time.

If you are still in the dark about who Kneecap are, then look no further than our explainer on the group and their meteoric rise so far.

If you have seen their new film, their appearance on the Late Late Show (which certainly turned a lot of heads and let the wider community know what they’re about) or their pre-recorded appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but still don’t know where to start, have no fear - we’re here to help.

Liam’s three Kneecap songs to check out...

1) Better Way To Live (feat Grian Chatten)
West Belfast rap trio Kneecap pose with a red 1980 Mazda 626
Kneecap being Kneecap with a classic 1980 Mazda 626. Picture: Peadar Gill

This tune is set to a 90′s-esque backing track with some nice piano flavour to suit the themes approached in the song.

The lyrics tell the listener about the struggle for a better life for those who have fallen on hard times.

Kneecap speak about making the most of what you are experiencing the most out of life and not letting things grind you down, a message that we can all follow.
2) It’s Been Ages
A photo of Kneecap doing their messages, which include Tunnock's Tea Cakes and Windowlene
The band's new single Sick in The Head is out now. Picture by Sarah Ellis

This song pokes fun at the headlines Kneecap has had from local news outlets regarding their music and what they represent, with references to the Belfast Telegraph and the Sunday World.

They seem to say that they’re relishing being back in the limelight and poke at the irony that they were out of the headlines for a while before being thrust back into the fray.

In the song, the group say that the bad press they receive is not affecting them and is giving the group more of a platform if anything.

Set against a steady rhythm which makes the song even more catchy, the song can be summed up in one lyric, “Take more than that to tame us, All your fault cause you made us famous.”

3) H.O.O.D.
Mo Chara  and Móglaí Bap from Kneecap
Mo Chara and Móglaí Bap from Kneecap

H.O.O.D. is a song about the perception that some groups in society (with the police mentioned in various parts of the song) see young people in Northern Ireland as thugs or ‘Hoods’ who just do nothing except cause trouble.

This song starts in an aggressive manner with Mo Chara basically shouting into the audience’s ears as is the chorus, to match that image of aggressive young people that the older members of the population view the younger generation.

MY FIRST KNEECAP PLAYLIST: David’s three essential tracks for newbies

Kneecap unveil their new mural in Hawthorn Street in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann
Kneecap unveil their new mural in Hawthorn Street in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann

The tune that started it all: a great rolling groove, reality/fantasy-blurring lyrics and that irresistibly catchy dual-language vocal hook.

A blueprint for what was to come.

2) Get Your Brits Out

This one epitomises the band’s ability to poke the PUL hive mind with deliciously lewd lyrics involving a drug-addled night out with a who’s-who of unionism, while also delivering a banging yet minimalist dance tune.

3) Sick In The Head

One off the forthcoming album, this was the song the trio performed for their recent US TV debut on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Sick In The Head has a nice retro hip-hop feel to it while remaining utterly 2024 in terms of its mental health-themed lyrical content.