In terms of Irish hip hop, Louth, Ireland’s smallest county, punches way above its weight. Drill crew A92, the first Irish drill act to chart both in Ireland and the UK hail from Drogheda, Dundalk is home to Reggie B while alternative hip hop duo RÓGAN & ØMEGA came up in Ardee. But talking to Strangelove, one half of Hot for 2022 duo Negro Impacto, you garner the sense that when he started out, he wasn’t working within a scene, rather, he was working from within his own bubble. Indeed, the path to Negro Impacto is a rather circuitous one, Strangelove tells it – “when I started, I guess you could say I was making beats, I was making ring tones, remixes of things like the Apple ringtone. The people I was hanging around with, would have been into electronic music mostly.” The other half of Negro Impacto, Chi Chi lived on the same road as Strangelove and they began hanging out, shooting the breeze, skating, chatting music. They started sending beats back and forward, and as Strangelove simply puts it –
“One day I sent her, the Lockdown Syndrome beat, and she sang on it, what you hear is pretty much the first song that we made.”
The lo fi process continued throughout the whole process of recording last year’s eponymously titled debut EP, recorded as it was in Strangelove’s bedroom. He credits Lilo (Blues) of Noisy House –
“ He mixed the whole EP for us, if you listen to the raw vocals, you can hear Chi Chi’s younger brother in the background, we embrace the edginess and the rawness of recording.”
Releasing the single through the normal channels, Spotify, Apple music, the duo was surprised when they started receiving airplay on national radio stations such as 2FM and 98fm. Fortunately, the song and EP hit at the same time that restrictions were being lifted, exposure on media such as District Magazine and Nialler 9, resulted in a supporting slot with national treasures The Mary Whallopers – “as soon as the EP was released, we were gigging, it was sort of overwhelming. But it was cool. It was fun. And, you know, we definitely are very thankful that we got that chance. We played in the new Workman’s venue, the Cellar, the Spirit Store in Dundalk on Halloween night and Limerick at Dolan’s Warehouse.”
Tagging the Negro Impacto sound is not easy, perhaps alternative R&B, but Strangelove doesn’t know nor refreshingly really care. Speaking about the remix EP – Negro Impacto: Strangelove Edits, Vol.1, that they released in late December, he says –
“Whenever Chi Chi gives me the vocals for a song, I just find it natural to remix them afterwards. And then in the same way as the EP, I, I sort of found myself with a with a bunch of remixes. And I figured why not release them.”
When arranging this interview with Strangelove, he told me that Chi Chi would be unable to attend. I presumed that a work or family commitment had intervened, however after the interview, I discovered the reason was that Chi Chi was recovering from surgery after being diagnosed with a tumour around her pituitary gland and will begin radiation therapy shortly, in order to remove the remainder of the tumour. A Go Fund Me page has been launched in support of Chi Chi, to assist in alleviating the financial pressure faced by her and her family in recent weeks. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, please God we see Negro Impacto on the festival circuit this summer delivering their genre-defying, soul-lifting tunes.