Stevie G: Bring the big rap acts back to Cork

In his weekly column Stevie G laments the fact that many music fans will have to hit the motorway to the capital, again this year, to see their favourite hip-hop acts
Stevie G: Bring the big rap acts back to Cork

Public Enemy join Wu-Tang and De La Soul on the Gods of Rap tour, playing in the 3Arena in Dublin this May.

It’s been a week of massive hip-hop announcements — the only shame really is that, yet again, we need to go to Dublin to see them.

As I write this, there are stories hitting the newsstands regarding yet more doubts around our long-heralded events centre, but let’s concentrate on the positive today. Cork’s need for a permanent big arena hosting regular shows has been talked about in detail here and elsewhere for well over a decade now, but in the meantime, we’ll just have to hit that motorway.

Drake is doing not one, not two, but three shows in the 3Arena in March as part of his Assassination Vacation tour. Supported by Tory Lanez, the show is will be sure to include his extensive array of Drake’s huge hits. He’s a rapper turned singer and pop star at this stage, so this is more than just hip-hop. It’s the biggest run of huge shows for a rapper yet in Ireland and it shows the strength of how big hip-hop is now in pop terms. Drake will attract a huge young Irish audience to these shows and I’m pretty sure they will all sell out.

A more mouth-watering prospect for many of my readers will be the arrival of the Gods of Rap tour to Ireland in May. The legendary Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy and De La Soul will play the 3Arena together, backed by the mighty DJ Premier. This is an incredible tour that has echoes of when Public Enemy used first tour Europe back in the day, in conjunction with the likes of LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and Run DMC. These tours were, in turn, echoes of the Motown invasions of the 60s, when the Detroit label sent its premier acts out together, spreading their soul gospel worldwide.

These tours became hugely influential in the 80s, putting the likes of Public Enemy on the map, and even though PE, Wu-Tang and De La Soul are still huge bands, none would fill the 3Arena on their own anymore. What the previous tours have shown is there is strength in numbers and hip-hop acts of a certain vintage are echoing what some of the metal bands do, and are pitching their line-ups together.

It’s a great way of introducing new generations to some of the most important music groups of all time, each of whom will feature one of their seminal albums. It remains an expensive ticket (€78, including booking fee, on sale tomorrow), but a great opportunity to see one of the great rap legends live alongside one of hip-hop’s greatest producers and DJs.

MCD are not content with leaving things there, and have also just announced the final headliner to the already spectacular Longitude bill for early July. Cardi B was supposed to play last year, before the heavily pregnant star was replaced by Sza. This year she joins Future, Chance the Rapper and A$Ap Rocky on a hip-hop line-up that has already been stacked with some of the biggest names in the game right now. Amine, Juice WRLD, Vince Staples, Rae Sremmurd, Brockhampton, Denzel Curry, Lil Uzi Vert, Gunna, Sheck Wes and Slowthai are also there.

Cardi B was one of the biggest artists in the world in 2018, and she remains massively popular now and a very capable headliner for a festival of this ilk. MCD has been very busy and these are some great shows that will attract huge interest from Cork too.

Cork itself is never going be able to compete with these acts while the Events Centre is in limbo, but at least we have Live at the Marquee and also some shows at Independent Park. Versatile sold out the Marquee in no time, so the appetite is certainly here for big rap shows. It wasn’t that long ago that Kanye, 50 Cent, Snoop and Jay Z used come here and sell out shows every summer. Hopefully Aiken and MCD will bring more here soon.

On the grassroots side of things, we still have some shows to look forward to, and on the club scene, my own Jam night continues tomorrow night with a show in Cyprus Avenue.

Ciara Ryan and the Hot Sauce dance crew will be joining me as usual, too. There’s plenty of new music releases lately from Cork including new music from Bony with Kalabanx and also YP with Jay Ronic.

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