Source: Donal Moloney/Vimeo
TOMMY KD HAS been homeless, battled drug addiction, and knows what it’s like to live on Dublin’s streets.
But now the rapper (who you may recognise from Love/Hate) is giving back to those who helped him, by donating the proceeds from his latest single, Homeless, to Merchants Quay Ireland and the Simon Community.
The song contains the refrain: “I’m homeless, but I’m human too”. “I just wanted to create awareness of the homeless problem and my experiences with homelessness,” Tommy, a former heroin user who has penned an anti-drugs rap, told TheJournal.ie.
“The two organisations that the money’s being given to, they’ve helped me out greatly when I was going through homelessness,” he said. Tommy is technically still homeless, living on his sister’s sofa until the New Year.
One of the biggest challenges for homeless people is rent allowance, said Tommy.
Landlords that won’t accept rent allowance - there’s only a certain amount of rent allowance that you’re allowed. And landlords are putting the rent up. It’s not just homeless people like single guys like myself; it’s whole families that are winding up homeless.
He has some critical words for the government on its plans to eradicate homelessness in Ireland.
I don’t understand all the politics of it but in a developed country like Ireland… we’ve got a good economy and all this shouldn’t be happening.
It isn’t just 2015 that’s been bad for homelessness in this country. “It’s been like this for the last seven or eight years,” said Tommy. But he said that from what he can see, government attempts to end homelessness just haven’t been getting off the ground.
Every few years you hear the government saying we’re going to eradicate homelessness by 2008; then they’re going to eradicate it by 2010. It’s nearly 2016 now and it hasn’t been eradicated. It’s just empty promises all the time.
“I’m hoping that the government do something, some sort of legislation where guys aren’t left sleeping rough on the streets,” said Tommy. “There are over 500 people every night in the emergency accommodation, and then there’s another over 100 sleeping rough on the streets because there’s nowhere to put them.”
It saddens me when you ring the freephone [number] looking for a hostel and they tell you you’ve no hostel [bed], you have to go to the back lane for a sleeping bag like you’re a dog. I’m homeless but I’m human too – I’m no different to any of you.
‘We’re not asking for the moon and stars’
He said that it’s also hard to get into a hostel, while you could be on the waiting list for council housing “for years”.
“We’re not asking for the fucking moon and stars – we’re just asking for affordable housing,” said Tommy.
“And stop making all these private houses – stop privatising everything. Make some public housing. Housing is a human right and everybody is entitled to a roof over their heads, whether you’ve got drug problems or not.”
“They need to build at least 100,00 houses,” he said. “That would cost about €10 billion and it’s not like they haven’t got it. I just don’t think that the homeless crisis is on their list of priorities.”
He said that the left-leaning parties are particularly strong at campaigning on this issue.
When you’re on the street, “people do look down on you; they want to brush it under the carpet”, said Tommy. “They don’t want to deal with homeless people.”
As for himself, he is glad to be able to help those who have helped him. “It feels great to give back,” said Tommy. “I think if everybody in the world gave back a bit, it would be a much nicer place. I think giving is better than receiving, because it might not make you rich in pocket but it will make you rich in spirit.”
Tommy hopes to sell a few thousands copies of the single: “A few thousand euros, that’d make a huge difference to homeless people”. For him, services by the likes of Simon Community and Merchant’s Quay have been a godsend.
He can get respite with Simon Community, while at Merchant’s Quay “you can go there every afternoon for a cuppa, soup or a sandwich”.
Tommy, whose socially conscious style is influenced by the likes of Immortal Technique, describes his musical abilities as “a blessing”.
God looked down on all these other lads and he says ‘out of all these lads I’m gonna pick you and you’re gonna have the ability to get things off your chest through rhyme’.
His debut album is due for release in the new year. “I never got into this for the money. I got into it to spread the message, and for people to identify with what I’m saying. The way I see it, if I do make money from it that’s a bonus but I primarily do it because I love it, and I just love entertaining people and telling a story.
You could say I’m a politician with rap songs.
Tommy and RTE presenter Joe Duffy will launch the Homeless single this Thursday, 3 December at 11am in the Merchant’s Quay Riverbank Centre in Dublin city centre.