Irish hip hop
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Irish hip hop is the response to the hip hop cultural movement that originated in New York City in the 1970s which, at that time, was most popular with members of the African-American community. In the 1980s, breakdancing and graffiti were the first elements of hip hop to find their way to Ireland and, around the same time, an underground scene of hip-hop music began to emerge.
- 1 1980s to 1990s
- 2 2000s
- 3 "The Irish Undaground"
- 4 Irish Hip-Hop releases
- 5 References
- 6 External links
1980s to 1990s
When hip hop got its foothold in Ireland there were many rap groups around to give it a good start, from the late 80s after the Breakdance era, they included groups like The Rathcoole Posse(Colz), Chrome Angels, MC Tyson, Gun Point, Jus Like Family, Death Squad, ScaryEire, Marxman, Ghost'n'Jay all produced tracks and some did live shows, while they were all the very roots of the emerging scene, not all continued on into the early to mid 90s to continue production and live shows, the one's that did pursue were Marxman, Scary Éire ,Ghost'n'Jay and First Kouncil.
Scary Éire were pioneers of the hip hop scene in Ireland and the first Irish rap act to be signed to a major label (Island Records). Although the band had little commercial success, they were said to be excellent live and had a large cult following. The group's name is a play on the Irish language word Éire.
The band consisted of two rappers (frontman Rí-Rá and hypeman Mr Browne), and two d.j's (Mek and Dada Sloosh).
D.J. Mek (winner of 5 Irish Disco Mix Club titles) had met Rí-Rá and Dada Sloosh working in Tullamore's pirate radio station Kiss F.M. in 1987. All three were involved in earlier rap groups (DaBadaPak and Noiz.Inc) but joined forces in 1990 and recruited Dublin breakdancer Mr.Browne as hypeman and second vocalist.
In 1991 they recorded their early demos in RadioActiv Studios, Bray, which included a Hip Hop reworking of Linton Kwesi Johnson's protest song "Fite Dem back". The recordings led to a string of notorious gigs in Dublin rock venues such as Fibber Magees (Parnell Street) and Barnstormers (a biker bar on Capel Street). A bidding war began as U.K. and International record companies tried to sign them. The band almost signed with Mo Wax but eventually went with Island Records as it was home to some of their musical heroes. They recorded a debut album that included contributions from Howie B, Tricky and Cutmaster Swift; but were then dropped by Island Records, who kept the rights to the album but did not release it. The band continued to record and play live, including opening for U2 on their Zooropa tour, and supporting many acts such as Madness, Beastie Boys and House of Pain.
Tommy Boy records featured one of their tracks ("Lost for Words") on the 1993 album Planet Rap.
In 1995 Scary Éire reappeared on London independent label 11 Records and released "Dole Q"/"That's No Good To Me" as a 12" single. The former song is about their various comical encounters on dole day and the latter a rugged, frenzied cypher.
In March 2007, the group released The Scary Era - a collection of archive songs that had been shelved since the early 90's.
Rí-Rá continues to perform live and has released new material including the "Horses work for donkeys wages" album and several singles. He has also collaborated with Sinéad O'Connor, Tricky, Junior Delgado and Adrian Sherwood.
Marxman were two Dubliners (MC Hollis Byrne and electronic musician Oisín Lunny) and two British Jamaicans (rapper MC Phrase and scratch mixer DJ Kay One) who brought out the album 33 Revolutions Per Minute on Talkin' Loud in 1993. The album exercised Irish traditional music within a hip hop framework. It featured collaborations with Irish folk music guru Dónal Lunny (father of group member Oisín Lunny), Sinéad O'Connor (who had also worked with McLyte on the track "I Want Your (Hands on Me)"), DJ Premier (who produced "Drifting"), trad group Storm, and several others. They gained notoriety for the track "Sad Affair," which protested against the presence of British troops in Northern Ireland; the track was banned by the BBC and most other UK radio stations for featuring lyrics such as "A six-county state is a bastard state / Why oh why can't we all integrate". This was followed in 1994 by an EP titled The Cynic, which cut down on the traditional influences and included some mellow instrumental tracks influenced by Massive Attack). In 1995 they released the Time Capsule LP on the More Rockers label, which was received without too much fuss. The band called an end to the project in 1995.
Since then the group has branched out to do other work, including introductory music for the Irish television channel Teilifís na Gaeilge, running their Pawnshop label, Oisin Lunny's soundtrack work, and recording under the name Minatone on Howie B's Pussyfoot label.
Ghost 'n' Jay were part of the first wave of Irish hip-hop that emerged in the late 1980s. The group formed in Tallaght. Sharing similar musical interests; -both were heavily influenced by US legends Such as Melle Mel, Rakim and Ultramagnetic MCs as well as UK pioneers The London Posse. They developed their down tempo underground sound with a string of recordings at Radio Activ studios in 1993 which resulted in their First E.P with the critically acclaimed tracks "2 Innocent", "Good n Evil" and "No Irish no Blacks". The lyrical content showed that Ghost wrote powerful stories about political and social injustice. Their live Shows reflected the DIY nature of the early hip-hop scene – from small venues around Dublin and then on to Fun City in The Point and a residency with Scary Eire at the legendary Barnstormers And Rock Garden gigs as well as other venue's around the country. The band broke up around 95 but reformed 2004 .and the band were greatly credited by new member Colz(DJ/Producer) in 2004 they began playing live shows again, including opening for Lord Finesse and Rahzel as well as regular performance's' in Eamon Dorans including (rouges reunion st patricks day gigs) and the village venues. The long awaited vinyl outing from one of Irelands original rap groups – Ghost'n'Jay 'What do yea want' is on 'All City records' released March 17, 2006. This 4 track 12 inch includes production from colz, and co production by Mek and Jay also contributions from Ri-Ra (ex-Scary Eire) Mr Brown (ex-Scary Eire) and Exile Eye (Equilibrium Records California) both of whom have already released 12s on All City along with Cork emcee/producer Scooby and Dj Mek who has recently been working with artists as Diverse as Ian Brown, Sweetie Irie, and Suggs from madness . The 7th release on the All City label features the title Track, “What Do Yea Want” plus instrumental “Straight n Direct” alongside an Exile Eye remix of Straight n Direct And this 12 is a mix of the old to the new with young emcee/producer Scooby adding to His growing rep and the ever superb RI-RA adding his own brand of youthful experience making This a welcome addition to the growing catalogue of recorded Irish hip-hop music.
First Kouncil began producing hip hop tracks in 1988. Front men Jay Yorke and Al Doyle backed by DJ Producer Mal Watson created quiet a storm when they first began, featuring in Hot Press. Influenced by artists such as Gang Starr, EPMD, KRS One and Boogie Down Productions. Music was politically driven voicing their opinion of the situation in Northern Ireland and the state of Irish Politics at the time and also creating tracks for the Hip Hop Club culture. First Kouncil featured on Gerry Ryans RTE programmes and have supported US3 who were launching their first album "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) at the Tivoli Dublin in 1994, US3 were the first Hip Hop Band signed to Blue Note Records.
Rap Ireland first appeared in the mid-2000s as a printed publication covering both Irish Hip-Hop and Hip-Hop culture as a whole within Ireland. Having enjoyed early successes and developing offshoots into Concert events and DJ Schools, Rap Ireland has become established as the most popular urban brand in Ireland. Dedicated to the development and exposure of new Irish artists, Rap Ireland (through the RapIreland.com website) also cover Hip-Hop from around the world, through a staff of over 20 writers.
Class A'z are an Irish rap supergroup from Dublin,members of this group include Terawrizt AKA Andy Brady,Redzer and Nu-Centz with regular appearances from Collie,Siyo,Nugget and Rawsoul.They recently featured on an RTÉ documentary about the current state of Irish Hip-Hop. The RTE documentary received widespread criticism.
G.M.C. (aka Garry McCarthy)
G.M.C is a rapper from Co.Cork who runs workshops all around Ireland.
DJ Wool (aka Glen Brady)
Irish hip hop failed to break into the mainstream until the 1998 release of Optic Nerve (EP) by Exile Eye. Third Eye Surfers brought their own sound to Irish hip hop with their critically acclaimed album Filthy Folklore, released in 2001 and produced by DJ Wool (aka Glen Brady). Band members DJ Wool, Lisa Dee, Big Al, Richie C and MC Poetic quickly received recognition on the Irish hip hop scene and followed their album's success with a 12" vinyl titled Third Eye Mindstate, which landed them a Best Newcomer Award at the Smirnoff Dance Awards in the Temple Theatre, Dublin. Touring Ireland, Third Eye Surfers began to build a solid fan base, supporting such names as Public Enemy, Jurassic 5, The Pharcyde and Sugarhill Gang. The band called it a day in 2002. DJ Wool is now a founding member of New York-based punk-funk/electronic outfit The Glass and is signed to Stretch Arm Strong's Plant Records. He and The Glass are constantly touring the world and releasing records and remixes by the likes of R.E.M., INXS, Jennifer Lopez, Just Jack, Howie B, Ghostface Killah and Killah Priest. In 2008 DJ Wool engineered and mixed the Billboard Charting Baltimore Club album 12 Steps by Tittsworth, featuring appearances by Kid Sister, DJ Assault, The Federation, Nina Sky and others. His remixes of "Broke Ass N*gga" (featuring DJ Assault) and "WTF" (featuring Santogold and Pase Rock) featured widely on popular music blogs, including Discobelle, The Music Slut, and Brookly Vegan.
Messiah J & The Expert
Messiah J & The Expert are a rapper/producer duo from Dublin, Ireland, originally part of three-piece Creative Controle with DJ Mayhem. Their first release, the single "First Place", came out in September 2003, quickly followed by their debut album, What's Confusing You? Over the years, they have supported Public Enemy, The Street, Gang Starr, De La Soul, Jurassic 5, Wyclef Jean, Buck 65, The Pharcyde, El-P, Jeru The Damaja and others. In March 2006, they released a 12" single featuring New York rapper C-Rayz Walz, entitled "When The Bull Gores The Matador", on their own label, Inaudible Records. This was followed in September 2006 by the release of "Something Outta Nothing". In October 2006 they released the album Now This I Have To Hear, which was nominated for a Choice Music Prize in January 2007. In October 2008 they released From The Word Go, which was nominated for a Choice Music Prize in January 2009.
Adrian Williams (Aidrean Donlon) is a Galway born hip-hop artist who is based in Worcester, England. Adrian goes by the stage name Big Que. He actively started writing poetry/lyrics in 1998, recorded his first track in 2001 when he was 12 years old. He then started recording more music from 2004 and recorded his first single 'Ghetto Suffering feat. Lyrical-J (Known as Blink-J then.)' in 2005. And still continues to the present day. Que has released three EPs & One Album, All under his Independent recording label 'Ender Line Records' with the last album also released through Demon Logic UNLTD.
The Rubberbandits are comedy rappers and producers from Limerick who perform anonymously in costume. Having started off making prank phone calls, they ventured into hip hop in 2008. They have supported Ice Cube and Alabama 3. Their track "Bags of Glue" became an underground hit in 2008. Another track, "Up Da Ra" (a satirical song about Irish history) created much controversy on YouTube and MySpace. Nialler 9 of State magazine has listed the Rubberbandits as his number two international act "to watch for 2009."
The Infomatics are an Irish hip hop musical ensemble from Dublin. They consist of Bugs, BOC, Steo (aka Konchus Lingo) and Mr. Dero. Steo's brother, Damien Gunn, was lead vocalist and saxman with DC Nien, a 1970s band who at one stage rivalled U2.
The Infomatics have released one album titled Kill or Create. They participated in interactive music television series The Raw Sessions in 2009, winning the overall series. Since winning they have been dubbed "the loudest voice in Irish hip hop". They have been awarded the title Sony Ericsson Artist of the Year.
Rob Kelly is a rapper from county Wexford, who was discovered in 2003, and has since become a major figure in the Irish underground hip hop scene. Artists such as the American rapper Slaine, have performed with him on songs, and he has supported live acts from artists such as, the American rapper Game.
Paul Tall-Order Ritchie is a rapper Born in Greenfort, Clondalkin. Tall-Order is owner of Ireland's biggest hip hop label Bloodshed Records. He's worked with Kool G Rap, Wu Tang Clan, Immortal Technique, Vinnie Paz, Roc Marciano, Block McCloud, Diabolic, Apathy, Ill Bill and many more. His debut album The Tree of Life and Death is a concept story telling joint being critically acclaimed worldwide from fellow peers and critics. Its driven by real 90s hip hop lyricism & story telling content. Tall Order is being described by Kool G Rap as the meanest lyricist he's ever came across & Block Mccloud said recently When he gets his flow polished nobody in hip hop is getting close to his raw story telling lyricism. Nas was recently quoted as saying his album is the best concept album he's ever heard, with tracks including 'A Thorne in Roses Side' & 'Life in a Colouring Book' these lyrical bombs about cancer & drug abuse are a must hear. His track titled 'Sobrietys Vines' was critically acclaimed by writers in the uk & Ireland as shocking how he can depict life in rhymes. The Tree of Life & Death including full scale book/magazine also named The Tree of Life & Death was released on December 13 on iTunes and in stores.
Sons Phonetic are a Hip Hop group formerly known as Correkt Minds who are dedicated to keeping raw uncut Hip Hop alive. Their style of music can be described as Hard Hitting thought provoking Lyricism over Heavy Sample based beats. Their debut album is entitled Twelve Labours.
Bigsnap (Dylan Jackson) is a rapper located in Galway. Known for his rap, videography and has done graphics for many mainstream artist such as Tay Dizm, Bobby Brackins and Steven Jo.Co-founder of a rap group known as Big Entertainment. The group consists of Bigsnap (Dylan Jackson) and Lil M (Ryan Doyle). The duo will be releasing their debut album in 2015.
"The Irish Undaground"
The Irish Undaground has evolved through various forms, including an eColumn authored by Kounter Kulture that first appeared in 2003, and an extensive album collection of Kounter Kulture's personal songs, collaborations, radio interviews, music videos, a documentary and Ireland's first Top 10 chart show for Irish hip hop, which began on 1 April 2006. On 20 April 2010, the Irish Undaground launched a radio station that plays Irish hip hop all day.
Irish Hip-Hop releases
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- Marxman - 33 Revolutions Per Minute
- Ghost'n'Jay - 2 Innocent EP
- Marxman - The Cynic EP
- Scary Éire – Dole Q (12")
- Marxman - Time Capsule
- The Illdependents - EP
- The Assassin - Lyrical Assassination EP
- Exile Eye - Optic Nerve EP
- The Illdependents - Back In The System EP
- Rí Rá - 40 Shades Of Greed EP
- 3rd Eye Surfers - Filthy Folklore
- Rí Rá – Front Bar (12")
- Exile Eye - Pressure Points
- Metabollix - Done & Dusted EP
- Hazo - Trippin Thru Me Dreams (12")
- Messiah J & The Expert - What's Confusing You?
- Relevance – Mushee Peas EP
- Rí Rá - 25 O'Clock In The Morning (12")
- Urban Intelligence - Demo
- Mista B - Just A Fraction...
- Rob Kelly - The Kellection
- Urban Intelligence - The Urban Intelligence EP
- Big Que - End Of The Line EP
- Collie - Is Ainm Dom
- VA - HomeMade Bombs Mixtape
- Captain Moonlight - Agroculture pt. 1 (Live From The Farm Shed)
- Dutch Gold Kid - Silence of The Shams
- Ghost and Jay - What Do Ye Want EP
- GMC - Diggin' A Hole
- Messiah J & The Expert - Now This I Have To Hear
- Nu-Centz - Why Be Modest?
- Rawsoul - Here's What I Did Last Summer
- Redzer - Dublife
- Rí Rá – Madd Axxe EP
- Rob Kelly - Bragging Rights
- Captain Moonlight - Agroculture pt. 2 (Return of The Barnstormers)
- Collie - How Things Change
- The Elements - B-Sides
- Maverick Sabre - The Demo
- Nu-Centz - Hardest Working Man
- Rí Rá - Clash-In Riddim (7")
- Rob Steenson - Whats the Story?
- Scary Éire - The Scary Era
- Terawritz - Art Immatain' Life
- Terawritz - Blank Canvas
- VA - The Proof Mixtape
- The Assassin - Lights Cameras Assassin
- Class A'z - The Drink Money Mixtape
- Correkt Minds - Figure of Speech
- The Infomatics - Kill Or Create
- Intox - Rugged Gurrier
- Jonny Boy - The Gospel According To John
- Lineage - From Here And From There
- Rob Steenson - Sense Makes Cents
- Sleepy - Music For Buses (Instrumental)
- Bradshaw- The Karen EP
- Captain Moonlight - Agroculture pt. 3 (On the lough)
- Class A'z - The Drug Money Mixtape
- Danny Diggs - Introducing EP
- Exxon Valdez - The Exxon Valdez Mixtape
- GMC – Fillin’ The Hole EP
- Jonnyboy & Intox - The Propaganda EP
- Lunitic - Based on a True Story
- Maverick Sabre - Speech and Beats EP
- Messiah J & The Expert - From The Word Go
- mo-t - The Twixtape
- Neddy Arkins - The Boy In The Sky
- Nifty Skillz - 16 Years (And A Bit) In The Makin
- Nu-Centz - Hardest Working Man Vol. 2
- Nu-Centz & Terawritz - Sense The Terror
- Nugget - The Nugget You Love To Hate
- Ol' Dirty Chancer - Don't Dwell On It
- Rí Rá – Horses Work For Donkeys Wages
- Rob Kelly - St Patrick's Day Massacre
- Roysta - Thundercock
- Siyo - Fresh Out The Gaf Vol. 1
- VA - Dread Room: Heard and Unheard
- Dexter - Project 2501
- Dynamic Grammar - The Grip Tape
- Genesis - Outsiders Perspective
- GMC – Shiny Filth
- Kounter Kulture - H2Eire
- Lethal Dialect - LD50
- Nifty Skillz - This Is Me EP
- Nu-Centz & Rawsoul - Hot Property
- Siyo - Weapons of Mass Creation
- Spekulativ Fiktion - Living Proof That The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword
- Street Literature - Products of Our Envoirnment
- Terawrizt - Written In Stone
- Allee - Game Time
- Ath Cliath Records - Dawn Till Dusk
- Big Que - The Room EP
- Class A'z - The On Tick Mixtape
- Collie Collins - The Aul' Sod
- Collie Collins & Monto - Keep Her Lit EP
- Genesis - Technical Simplicity
- Gerard i2 - What I Like and Love
- Jun Tzu - Belfast Baby
- Noize Thievery - Beyond The Interface Vol. 1
- Nu-centz & Terawrizt - Sense The Terror 2
- Nugget - Ready To Diet
- Rawsoul - The Raw Deal
- Rob Steenson - First Up, Best Dressed
- The Rubberbandits – Serious About Men
- SertOne – The View From Above
- Sketch Nine - The Expenses of Living Free
- Sons Phonetic - Twelve Labours
- Spekulativ Fiktion - mother earth/other earth (Instrumental)
- Terawrizt & Tony Mahoney - Revisited
- VA - DFI Vol. 1
- VA - DFI Vol. 2
- Tall-Order - Depths Of Despair ft Kool G Rap
- Big Que - This Is What Feel
- Big Que - Music Box EP [Original & Re-Issue]
- Costello - Illosophical
- CmX aka Mexy - Split Mode Vol 1
- Deviant - Lookin Fancy In The Pantry
- Deviant & Spekulativ Fiktion - 48
- Dusty Residents - Seabury Heights
- The Elements - The Lost Archives: 2006 to 2008
- The Expert - Neckbreakers (Beat Tape)
- Flying Buttresses - Orson Welles EP
- Gerard i2 - Out On The...
- G.I - Underworld
- Good Vibe Society - Have A Good Weekend
- Jambo - Intervention
- Jee4ce - Gingers Have Souls
- Jee4ce - NOW: That's What I Call Jee4ce 2012
- Lethal Dialect - LD50 pt. 2
- Monto - Best Boy EP
- Moschops - Prophecy
- mynameisjOhn - The Focusing Effect
- Naive Ted - Swoon & Doom
- Noize Thievery - More Soul Than A Sock Wit' A Hole (Instrumental Album)
- RíRá - Demo Straights : Unreleased & Underplayed
- Seaz420 - Sewer Rats
- SertOne – Shapes In The Sky EP
- Siyo - The Real Simon Young
- Sketch Nine - Darwin
- Temper-Mental MissElayneous - Proletarian Restitution EP
- Terawritz - Silence Is Consent
- Terawritz - Reign of Tera
- Tall-Order - One Life ft Killah Priest,Rhyme Asylum,AOTP,Caxton Press,Kool G Rap,Lowkey
- Deanie - Champion (Debut Single)
- Allee - Game Time II
- Class A'z & Funzo - Twenty 13
- "The Animators - Sketch EP"
- Rew - Hurt Myself
- G.I - Black Tuna (Instrumental Album)
- Rob Steenson - Throwin' Rocks EP
- Temper-Mental MissElayneous - Big Words
- Collie ft. Funzo - No Matter What You Do (single)
- Tall-Order - The Tree of Life and Death
- "Diatribe and the Crimson Underground - Information Age"
- Cyril - The squirrel is under the table, Ram it up my arse!
- Kloud Nine - The Incredible E.P
- "The Animators - Drawn Together"
- Icarus Rising - Lucky Seven"
- "Class A'z - Trinity"
- "GI & Costello - Mary Jane"
- "DJ Moschops & Costello - CosMos"
- "GI - Bobby Tuna Diares"
- "4Real - Armageddon"
- Tall-Order & Rew ft Terri Grey - You Know How I Shine
- Ricishade - Keep it lit
- Inception ft Tall-Order,RV,5TH Element,4real & G.I - The Aftermath
- Funzo - The Great Lonesome
- Noco - Isolation (Instrumental Album)
- Cool Breeze - The Cold As Ice Mixtape
- Lethal Dialect - 1988
- Veritaz - Genesis
- Collie Collins - "The Bitter Truth
- This That & The Other - This That & The Other EP
- dsgrace - Adoxography (produced by Noize Thievery
- Noco - Open Minds EP (Instrumental Album)
- "Marxman Biography". Pandora Media, Inc. Retrieved May 6, 2009.
- Caldwell, Johnny (June 2008). "Troubles tunes which annoyed Auntie". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- Choice Music Prize for The Divine Comedy. RTÉ Entertainment. March 1, 2007.
- "Choice Music Prize - Shortlist Announced". IMRO. 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2009-01-16.[dead link]
- My ones to watch for 2009. Nialler9 Music Blog. January 6, 2009.
- http://www.irishundaground.com - "The Irish Undaground" Website