Irish language hip-hop trio Kneecap have Michael Fassbender in their biopic, and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and they haven't even released their debut album yet

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Belfast rap trio Kneecap have scored rave reviews after premiering their new biopic at the prestigious Sundance film festival in Utah.

Kneecap, a semi-fictionalised origin story set in west Belfast which features the hip-hop band alongside celebrated Irish actor Michael Fassbender, was the first Irish language film ever to premiere at the festival. The film, described as “a true-life fable about man’s intrinsic urge for identity, the allure of drugs and a passion for life”, has now been has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, who will screen it in North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East... all this before the Irish language-speaking trio, comprised of Mo Chara (Liam Óg Ó Hannaidh), Móglaí Bap (Naoise Ó Cairealláin) and DJ Próvaí (JJ Ó Dochartaigh), have released their debut album.

The Hollywood Reporter calls Kneecap, "gleefully irreverent", and makes comparisons between director Rich Peppiattto's debut feature, co-written with the band, and Danny Boyle's cult classic Trainspotting, while Screen Daily says, "The film is clearly destined for cult status."

Kneecap, who take their name from the Provisional IRA's traditional punishment of shooting those accused of drug dealing or 'anti-social behaviour' in the knee, have attracted a certain amount of controversy since their inception, not least when they unveiled a mural depicting a PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) Land Rover in flames in 2022, alongside a slogan stating that the police were not welcome in west Belfast.

“Anti-police sentiment has been longstanding in the hip-hop community,” Móglaí Bap told The Guardian. “This isn’t new. We didn’t burn a police Land Rover, we painted one. Some people are more worried about a piece of art than the effigies of real politicians hanging off bonfires. We don’t want to be fighting or advocating violence. We want people to be thinking.”

Kneecap's debut album is expected on Heavenly Records later this year. 

Watch the film's trailer below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.