Stevie G: Ireland’s hip hop scene is hopping

Hip-hop in this country is stronger than ever, and it’s only getting more popular, so says Stevie G in his weekly column

IRELAND’S new wave of hip-hop has received a lot of media attention, but Ireland has been making great hip-hop for a long time, and just because acts such as Sons Phonetic, G.I., Costello, and even Lethal Dialect slipped through the radar for the masses, it doesn’t mean they weren’t creating great music.

The widespread media support for hip hop now, whether in print or on radio, is a game-changer, and there is also more direct support for the scene, such as District magazine.

For decades, there has been a specialist support network here, but hip-hop is now at it’s strongest commercially.

On the big scale, we have a bona-fide successful hip-hop export, in the form of Rejjie Snow, who has been popular abroad since he was a teenager, and who is respected internationally.

The controversial Dublin crew, Versatile, are perhaps the next best-known Irish hip-hop act, and played a sold-out gig in the Marquee here this summer, and will soon do the same in Dublin, at the 3Arena. Their music is not really for me, and I can understand why they have so many critics, but with youngsters, they continue to draw massive numbers.

Kojaque and the Soft Boy records crew have been building something massive for a few years now and with artists such as Luka Palm and Kean Kavanagh also a part of it, things have been gathering pace in a big way.

Their gigs get better and better and so do their releases. The whole Soft Boy story has been an impressive example for young hip-hop groups to follow.

Rusangano Family’s importance in this new wave cannot be overestimated.

Their Choice music prize a few years ago was a huge breakthrough for hip-hop in Ireland. MynameisjOhn, of Rusangano, is a hip-hop veteran here by now, and, alongside Murli and Godknows, they created one of the best albums this country has ever seen, with Let the Dead Bury the Dead.

They were also one of the first to elevate live performance to a level rarely seen since the heyday of Scary Eire, and MC’s Murli and Godknows and another protege, Denise Chaila, continue to make some of the best music here. They are all getting better with time.

In Belfast, the scene is developing rapidly, too, and one of the most exciting MCs in the country, Leo Miyagee, is coming to Cork on the jazz weekened, to showcase some of the greatest jazz and hip-hop styles seen since the heyday of Guru and the Pharcyde.

Limerick, Galway, Waterford, and many of Dublin’s satellite towns are all bringing out impressive MCs at a rapid rate, and it’s becoming almost a full-time job keeping up with the progress. Let me quickly shout out Alex Gough, Tebi Rex, Pat Lagoon, Mankky, The Unscene, J.B2, CelavieDMai, and 7th Obi, but this is not a comprehensive list or attempt to mention everyone. There are far so many great rap acts here.

I haven’t even mentioned much of Dublin yet, but Jafaris and JYellowL, my guest on last week’s radio show, are as good as anyone around.

The live ability of these artists is incredible, but, lyrically, they are both on fire, and they are bringing out music to match, too. Dublin has a drill scene, and grime and garage are also evident in music from the likes of Mango x Mathman, while young producers, such as Marcus Woods, have helped put Burner records on the map.

Nealo is newly signed to Diffusion lab, while Fynch is another one worth watching, but I could have done this article on Dublin alone, such is the strength of the scene there. Cork is probably lagging in some ways, but we still have GMC and Ophelia helping generations of kids, while Spekulativ fiktion, JarjarJr, Corneyboy Muzik, Craicboi Mental, adopted son Outsider YP, Kestine, Salamay, LG4 Tray, Bony, Jay Ronic and a whole hosts of others are making big noises. Our soul scene here is very impressive, too. Hip-hop in this country is stronger than ever, and it’s only getting more popular.

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