The south's got something to say

The Irish drill scene has exploded in the last few years, and it's bubbling along nicely in Cork, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
The south's got something to say

Mayfield drill collective T23 say their music is a release from the “negative things”.

The Irish drill scene has exploded in the last few years and Drogheda artist, Offica, is bringing his collective, A92, to Cyprus Avenue this October. It’s an exciting time for drill here, with a number of acts doing massive numbers and getting attention abroad (A92 have broken into both the Irish and UK charts). It’s still an underground scene and in Cork City things are bubbling along nicely, too.

This week, I’m featuring Mayfield drill collective, T23.

I visited T23 the other day and we spoke about their plans and the scene here.

Marz, RJ, Ehm, and Sheen are only just beginning, but they are attracting attention. ‘No Hook’, by Marz and RJ, is bringing the boys attention with an eye-grabbing video premiering on UK’s PacmanTV, shot by talented local filmmaker, Lovro, who is an essential supporter of the drill scene here. Produced by Dublin-based AKvibes, it’s a dark and menacing track that showcases their flows against the backdrop of Cork’s Shakey Bridge.

Marz has also collaborated with talented young Midleton artist, 3Shade, on the very soulful ‘Different Versions’, while RJ’s ‘Bad to the Bone’ is doing damage on influential Irish drill platform, Dearfxch TV.

All four T23 MCs are hungry for more and they are hoping to bring more attention to the scene here, describing themselves as the “coldest in the south”. It reminded me about Outkast’s famous ‘the south has got something to say’ statement at the Source awards back in the day. Outkast and the other southern rappers weren’t impressed by the less-than-warm welcome they had received in the traditional rap home of New York, and they were quick to use it as a badge of honour. In Cork, a traditionally strong hotbed of rap talent, things have been quiet for too long, so maybe T23, and other young drillers, can help put us back on the map.

T23 are keen to use their music to express themselves, and see it as a welcome release from the “negative things” and lack of opportunities in “council estates”.

Being young in Ireland is tough and it’s no wonder that so many teenagers are turning to a drill sound that is less about flexing and more about the tough realities of street life.

They are keen to get into the studio and record as a collective and they have been working mainly with producers from elsewhere, while recording their vocals in Kitten Lane here.

Aidan, from Kitten Lane, put me on to lots of young Cork drillers, including Coji and Moje, who are also bringing the heat, with tracks such as ‘Day or Night’ and ‘Unsure’. Aidan comes from a different musical background, but he’s impressed with the young drillers, and he’s keen to help give them a voice and push the scene.

A big criticism of Irish drill artists has been the tendency to be too influenced by UK accents, though the likes of Sello, with the massive ‘Dublin’, has shown that it’s not always the way.

Ac-130, one of the artists name-checked by T23 as an influence, has met this criticism head on, while Marz correctly notes that it’s natural for young artists to gravitate towards their influences.

Look deeper and you’ll see the local references, and it’s obvious that most Irish drill acts are proud of their origins, and often wear it even as their name (T23 is the postal code for the northside, a common theme for drill acts).

T23 list Ac-130, Sello, Femz 23, Chukz, Smilez, and others as influences and, like most Irish drill fans, they are proud of the whole Offica/A92 story.

We’ve got talent all over the country and in Cork things are really looking up. King Koko can flow between drill and other more traditional rap styles and she’s got bars to burn.

We’ve also got experienced artists like Salamay on the verge of big things, while Jay Ronic’s most recent release, ‘3am’, is still large. His younger brother, KR, appears on the afro-trap anthem ‘Wavy’ with the mighty S2sav.

There’s many more, too, including a 14-year-old protege from the Kabin studio, RHXS, who’s writing and producing all his own music.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Cork is on the rise with some great young talent, and the south still has something to say!

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