I think it’s fair to say the Irish rap scene has been laying dormant in the capital city and elsewhere for the last decade or more with it’s bare amounts of originality, quality and accessibility. In saying that, i’m well aware there is an underground scene with emcee’s that built upon their skills over the years and those who weathered that very cold storm, those that still rap today, are putting out strong material with a great sense of maturity and direction. I feel Irish rap music is now socially accepted. But first, lets jog back a bit.
Taking a culture that was birthed in the mid 1970’s in the projects of America and making it our own was a long and arduous process. I remember writing my first rhyme at age 14 in 1999 and delivering it in a bogey American accent. Then I met a local producer later that year who told me about some people using their own accents and that I should try use mine from now on which in turn made me even more self conscious about rapping publicly. I was just a child, however I was intrigued, It made perfect sense to me for how else are we going to carve out our true identity as a nation of Rap/Hip Hop artists without originality?
My story is not truly unique though for around the time I start rapping there was no doubt a huge underground surge influenced by Hip Hop across the country that spawned many emcees through the B-Boy Culture in places such as Cork, Limerick, Belfast, Drogheda and Dublin. I seen it with my own eyes as a youth at graffiti jam sessions, break dancing, rap & graffiti art all combined into one forming an expressive movement. It was very real for me, a lifestyle, one I fell in love with.
The Irish rap scene had it’s moments of glory at the beginning, such as the birth of a group of Irish rap pioneers named “Scary Eire” formed in 1992 who for me were defiantly setting things off on the right foot with original vibes and flavor retaining their own accents. Their impact was minimal as Irish society wasn’t really ready to hear rap music in an Irish accent. Strange but true. Catholicism?
Finally, after a half a decade went by, just like the vibrations of a pebble hitting water the idea spread across the country and people began to follow suit using their true voice. Although with one big breakthrough, came another struggle.
It sounded so different that it was passed off as a silly mock imitation of Americas thriving culture here in Irish society. It was very hard to sway someone to take the art serious. I personally hid away my talents for years as a youth as I was slightly embarrassed to rap to general Irish public in fear of being discriminated against. The stigma attached to Hip Hop artists was that of being a “wannabe” rapper (Someone who wanted to be black). Unfortunately this was societies outlook and this tarnished Irish Hip Hop in a way that placed it into a void for many years while mainstream American rap music ruled our media and airwaves. I wasn’t brave or experienced enough to make a stand against the country alone so I put it away for a couple of years and kept my ear to the scene.
Slowly through the cracks of suppression leaked a working class wave of emcees with decent skills and production value. Although young, they showed a great sense of awareness in their lyrics powered off the integral basics, expressing in-dept their personal struggles, social environment and frustrations with political powers whilst delivering clever metaphors and punchlines. Thus, the birth of a new generation.
Still searching for an audience like a deep sea angler fish looking to lure prey, another struggle began. The appeal for social acceptance. This movement of new Irish emcees picked up a cult following on YouTube and sparked interest across the country. Viva la internet !!
Over time Hip Hop artists start to put on small local shows and host rap battles like “Don’t Flop” which filmed lots of episodes of the countries best up-coming emcees in a war of words. (Basically big slagging matches). This brand grew and prospered, bridging a gap between Irish and English emcees helping the scene in a much needed way. It was hosted by Redzer (a Coolock emcee from the group Class A’s) and was an important part of the scenes progression.
In order to induct a musical genre into mainstream Ireland it needs to have high production value and also an experienced emcee to sell it as authentic to the listener. I seen opportunities to create low budget albums on very thin compressed hip hop beats over the years but i waited, almost waiting for our society to move out of its dark age and actually pay attention to the culture aspect of the music which in turn would open their eyes to what we were trying to achieve. I hoped the day would come that we were no longer fighting fire with fire.
I rehearsed in sessions with different bands with various vibes such as reggae, heavy rock and even folk, refining my voice and delivery. It was about 5 years ago I dropped this video under the name “The Dead Poet” with artist Ferdia Kelly Murphy (Click name for links to Ferdias newly released music) titled “Wait for the end” all recorded on a 16 track with live instruments in a home studio.
Irish rap music is now socially accepted
Through the power of the internet Irish Hip Hop is beginning to flourish and has built more momentum in the last 3 years than it has in the previous 10. Another new wave of fresh talented emcees have spawned in this country with access to great Irish hip hop music, producers, quality videos and many contrasts and comparisons stylistically to build upon if they were looking at getting started.
It’s been a long road but the satisfactory foundation has been laid down for the youth to follow. The Irish Rap Scene that once lay dormant is now a volcanic giant re-activated and ready to explode. It stems in so many stylistic directions now that its just became, well…. music. I feel its no longer a taboo to be an Irish rapper. It takes brains and more courage than you know to this stuff well.
I personally have released material with “Soundwave Legacy”, a full band that consists of hues of soul, blues, pop, hip hop and ambient vibes with some poetry. I’ve also emceed on rock stuff being released in a feature film this year. I’m also working on faster grooves with producer Crimes Against building a monster of an album with massive modern Hip Hop influences and also a chilled classic style Hip Hop album with producer Gerryboy is in the works too. Vibes from all across the board and why not experiment because it’s all there for the taken.
What does this say? Well… it’s saying 2016 is the strongest year thus far for Irish Hip Hop/Rap not only for me but for most of the leading acts. At last we have found a true identity, free from the chains that once enslaved us with stereotypical slur and divide. The best work is yet to come in this little talented country, it’s only the beginning of a new age and i’m very proud to be pushing the boundaries with my music. Level up!
I’ll leave you with these words taken from my track “By my side” from my forthcoming album with Crimes Against.
“I played the wall and watched the Irish rap scene develop, subconsciously I was telling myself, I could take it to another level, other artists start emerging, I started soul searching, getting rid of any diversions and maximizing self awareness, It was my calling, and I couldn’t be this far without my circle, and the music is our guide, by our side so it can steer us, you made me the man I am a whole education in your service, I love you hip hop, yours truly, your dearest.”
Feature photo by: Paul Killeen
Photo by: Murmur