Stevie G: When Cork was home of hip hop

In his weekly column Stevie G takes a look at where all the rappers from the early 2000s have gone...
Stevie G: When Cork was home of hip hop

Trigger: Cork rapper has had an album produced by An Buachaill Dana.

IT’S hard to believe that Cork once had the best hip-hop scene in the country. In about 2006, we had the best young MCs and a bunch of kids who were the envy of many. There were young producers and musicians aplenty, plus an infrastructure that included local radio support (pirate and commercial), workshops, and gigs in both big and small venues, such as the Savoy, City Hall, Triskel, and more. The Echo was quite vocal in its support and stalwarts such as Don O’Mahony were, as always, pushing the music. Cork was buzzing and rap was huge.

Unfortunately, it was never gonna last. Different people went different ways, but, in fairness, lots of the youngsters kept their hands on the music to some degree.

Being a musician is a terrible career choice for many, and rapping has rarely led to streets paved with gold here. Young rapper GMC took his skills into the studio and spearheaded a whole new generation of young talent with a decade of workshops that have had a lasting legacy here. He now operates in the Kabin studios in Knocknaheeny, and, in partnership with the likes of Music Generation Cork, he has been one of the main reasons why we still have a healthy underground scene here.

Most other rappers from around then have had to face the reality that it is next to impossible to make a living solely from it, but many of them have kept their hands in the music, too.

Brozy and Mickey Gatch hosted a legendary hip-hop show on UCC radio, while the young DJ Ian Ring became one of the best producers in the country for Young Wonder and other projects. Samir and the Aosdana crew were amazing and the former is back writing rhymes, as is the legendary Bony, who has appeared on a recent Kalabanx track, too.

Anto Yau continued with his music, as did Cliff from the amazing group, the Impressionists, regulars in this column at the time. Bubba Shakespeare came soon after and is still about pushing music on Lab TV, with Fortune Sibanda. Lots of the best Cork rappers were battlers, such as Nash, and continued to showcase their talents. B Wonder and Buachaill Dana are still around, and still revered in Cork, and elsewhere, by those who know, while others, such as David Jackson, went down a different path.

He is now a highly respected spoken-word artist. The breakdancers from those days were the amazing Rhythm Rebels, and they all have done some amazing projects elsewhere, such as art and graf and promoting and Djing.

The Cuttin Heads collective was partly born out of these talents and they are one of the best hip-hop evangelists in the country in 2019. Many of those working in hip-hop 12 or 13 years ago have had to realise that the real world isn’t a place that rewards DJs, rappers, artists, and dancers, but as someone involved back then, I’m quite proud that most of that generation are still passionate about the art form. Even those not involved remain in love with the music and the culture.

Where is Cork in 2019?

There is still a hip-hop scene and there are more rappers and producers and singers than ever. There are a number of significant collectives and plenty of young talent from a generation where the options are limitless.

I do think we fall behind Dublin when it comes to the industry side of things, and attending recent shows in both Cork and Dublin, it was easy to see that, sometimes, the artists up there were a bit more accomplished and polished.

There is more industry support up there and the geographical advantages have always helped, but there are many youngsters here who have been doing great stuff. I’m as guilty as anyone for not always being able to promote everything, but there is talent and hunger here, just like there was back in that golden era of the mid 2000s.

We have some of the best music producers in the land here and the likes of Jar Jar Jr are as good as anyone in Europe right now. There’s loads more.

Hip-hop has been fashionable again for a few years and I’m sure that cycle will change, but I’m also sure that, in Cork, the hip-hop scene will survive and new and established artists will get better and better.

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