When rap first properly emerged in the late 70s and early 80s, it was easy to see why many dismissed it as a novelty, as there was no other music genre which lent itself so well to parody hits.
Even some of the greatest rap groups and artists found it hard to move outside this prejudice, while legendary groups such as Run DMC and the Beastie Boys even used novel ways to plant themselves into the music industry.
Run DMC were already blending rock and rap in a perfectly sensible way, seeing as many of the hip-hop drum breaks of the 80s came from rock in the first place.
It took their huge reworking of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’ to make them go global, and in the same way, the Beastie Boys, from a punk background, were using massive rock drums to bring a sense of shock to their music.
Spearheaded by Rick Rubin on Def Jam, their music was sonically powerful, but the Beastie Boys hammed up the more childish elements of being young men too, and suddenly White America was awake and paying attention.
2 Live Crew were even more shocking, and more of a horror story for middle America.
Their music was sexually explicit and very raunchy, much to the horror of parents who campaigned against it, but really only succeeding in making it even more notorious and popular and, as is often the case, more desirable.
2 Live Crew were far from stupid though, and they put up their own legal fight, even drawing support from mainstream artists such as Bruce Springsteen, who lent them his music for their powerful anti-censorship message in ‘Banned in the USA’.
Over on the west coast, N.W.A were heavy on shock value, and on, gangsta rap reached its biggest moment, with tracks like ‘Fuck The Police’ proving popular with youngsters in particular, but also with music fans worldwide.
The controversy only got bigger, as did the sales, and rap was truly a big deal by the early 90s.
It took another few years for the industry to move much of the big money from the labels to the artists, but — as discussed here recently in my article on Dr Dre — soon those artists started making cash too. Some of them ended up even running things.
That’s all a far cry from Cork City in 2019, but it’s great to see youngsters using rap music positively. In some ways, Cork is the benchmark for youth culture and hip-hop in Ireland, as there is nowhere else where the kids have the influence of what GMC, Music Generation, and others have been doing with The Kabin in Knocknaheeny and The Hut in Gurranabraher.
GMC, a hitmaker in his own right at one time with the huge single ‘Not Tonight’, has laid the foundations for years of great music and work on Cork’s northside, and even though much of it was behind the scenes, people are starting to pay more attention now.
In many ways, Cork is in the spotlight because of the success of, which GMC has contributed to, and some of Cork’s rap youngsters even play a part on the new series.
Brendan Canty’s short film, which previewed at the Cork Film Festival last week, is also bringing some of these youngsters to the fore.
There was an iconic moment outside The Everyman Theatre last Saturday, when a stretch limo brought down some of these fantastic youngsters to the screening.
Danny Power and the rest of the cast were there, including two of the youngest members of the gang — Darren and Jamie — who are gaining lots of attention with their forthcoming ‘Yeah Boy’ single, which they performed outside.
These kids are winning hearts of everyone they see, and they are doing it with a swagger and confidence that would make the Beastie Boys and Run DMC proud.
It’s 100% Cork and while for many it’s a novelty, listen and look closely and you will see skills that are incredible for kids of their age. They can write, rap, and perform amazingly and they’re a credit to GMC, The Kabin and Cork City.
‘Yeah Boy’ is coming to you soon and there’s nothing you can do to stop it!