Tebi Rex Plant Their Roots on the Emotional Journey 'It's Gonna Be Okay'
Imagine a tall tree, centuries old, calmly weathering human history as it observes our desperate struggles, both firmly rooted against time and hyper sentient. Now imagine that tree can share its wisdom, offer its oracle-like knowledge to those in need, specifically you, granting you an epoch of awareness in resolving your individual woes. Tebi Rex, an indescribably imaginative hip-hop duo from Maynooth, Ireland, have stumbled upon such a tree, the creative genius for their second full-length release It's Gonna Be Okay.
The collision of influences, brought by the dissimilar protagonists of the project, Max Zanga and Matt O'Baoill, takes this American artform and spins it into a world of deep intimacy and poetic wellspring, one as rich in trials and travails as the best of Éire's famed literature. The conflicting mesh of the group - in talents, approach and sentiment - drives an originality most groups struggle to achieve even in deliberate reduction. But, on this second full-length, a true maturation in songwriting is evident. The honesty and conviction of the project is immediately notable, and while the future for the next project isn't yet plotted, the potential these two poets enjoy is palpable throughout It's Gonna Be Okay.
The meta narrative of a mythical tree is so cross-culturally expansive it defies quick summary (think Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden as one prosaic example), but the origin of Tebi Rex's tree was from a novel, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. The source of narrative was driven by both personal strife (Max specifically was dealing with his brother's battle with cancer, which appears lyrically in the album as well) and of course the physical separation and isolation the pandemic cast upon everyone.
Broken into three parts, the album doesn't have a true resolve. But, if learning and process are rewards, it does arc into a version of hope. In Act I, the "miserable" tracks comprise the first four songs, with "Deadman," a diary of daily struggles lashed with meta-existential dread, arriving as a true angst-laden standout.
Act II has the "miserable but happy" songs and is the emotional bridge of the work. It rests on "Oh It Hurts" and another crescendo of near-resistant optimism in "It Will Never Be Enough" that embodies the true range of Tebi Rex - two distinct voices that then blend together in chorus with collaborator Rebecca Locke before unraveling again.
Act III is the "upswing" of the album and alludes to not a true resolution, but from "Fear Lasta Lampai" onwards, a therapeutic journey begins. "I Hate Everything, I Love Everything" is a personal favorite. It’s my self-aware soundtrack for daily perseverance. (For those always curious about the purpose of individual art, the stories hidden in "Happy To Be Here" are excellent reveals). In its fullest state, Tebi Rex are a knowledgeable tree of their own, too young and new to be fully rooted, but surely able to encamp the human journey, reminding us all that it will be okay.
Listen to It's Gonna Be Okay below: