“Any good music scene is built on that sense of community…”
When speaking about the new wave of hip hop to crash onto Ireland in the past few years you cannot at least mention Dublin duo Dah Jevu.
They brought a style to the table unlike anything the scene on the Emerald Isle had witnessed before, blending dark lyricism with more obscure production.
Chris Montana (aka Tafari Pesto) and Bobby Basil are the two brains behind the Dah Jevu project, and as of September of this year they have decided to part ways. For the the time being at least. They played their last show at Electric Picnic to a crowd of dedicated fans and now they are releasing solo music.
We met up with Bobby Basil to discuss his plans and how he sees the landscape of Irish hip hop going into 2017.
So you’re going it alone now. Is that daunting?
It feels different, but I did start out on my own so it’s just going back to those roots.
Is it less nerve-wracking as a duo when you get up on stage?
I suppose I’m not sure yet because the biggest crowds I’ve played in front of have been with Chris. For all I know I could feel more pressure on myself.
I’m still collaborating with people and performing on stage with friends too so that helps. I did that track a couple of months ago with Wastefellow, then I’ve a track with Huva and Major Grave coming out soon.
Speaking of talented friends, everyone is talking about Irish hip hop right now, that it’s the best it’s ever been. What’s your honest view?
I like to hear about people’s real lives. Artists like Lukey (Luka Palm) and Kojaque, are those young, honest voices. What it’s lacking is a community though, and I think that’s always been the case.
Until that happens it’s always going to stall. When you have more people working with each other, collaborating, that’s when it will press on. There are some little cliques popping up, but there are still not enough. I’m not sure why it’s not happening though.
What type of communities exactly would help?
More artists working together and more music coming out. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite, because I haven’t been producing that much music with people, but I’d certainly like to, and I think things like that will generate a bit of a buzz.
Any good music scene is built on that sense of community. At the end of the day, I like to work with people that I know and that I’m close with, most people do, but that’s limiting yourself. Everyone tends to stay in their coop, but venturing out is how we’ll evolve.
It’s also up to certain blogs and magazines to write about what we’re doing. To show off what’s happening. Instead of just focusing on the big names that everyone knows about.
So moving on a bit. The visual aspect is obviously a big part of what you do. Your videos always have an attention to detail.
Yeah absolutely. It’s an exciting part of what I do. I love working with Hugh Mulhern. When we have a track it’s great working with him because he has all of these ideas.
I kind of just leave the concepts to Hugh. I try not to input too much. I’ll do my thing, so he’ll trust me and I’ll trust him and his ideas.
Yeah, historically hip hop artists tend to work with a whole host of creative people, outside of just music. That seems to be the case with you?
Instagram is good way to put yourself out there and people follow your buzz, they like what you’re about. Then they get in touch, say a photographer, and ask if you want to work together. You also meet these creative people on nights out. Dublin seems to be good for that. It’s small. Like that Major Grave track we have coming up. I know him from Shankhill and we met on a bus recently and got chatting.
Do you think Shankhill had much bearing on your musical taste?
Yeah I’d imagine so, all of my friends are from around there and a lot of them make music now. Plus my dad as well. He would have been the first person to introduce me to hip hop. It would have been Tupac and Eminem.
And what about now, what do you listen to? There’s obviously this whole debate about Lil Yachty going on…
I have no problem with these new rappers. I like Lil Uzi Vert for example, I like what they’ve got going on. I don’t enjoy Lil Yachty, but I have no right to comment on him. We were talking about this today, Hugh made a good comparison between these new artists and the punk movement. People used to look down at punk because it was done by poor kids and it wasn’t respected because people thought it was dumbed down rock, but it’s not about that. It seems like it could be the start of something else.
Hip hop always had elements of punk, going against the regime. We shouldn’t forget that.
Bobby performs live on Thursday November 16 alongside Luka Palm in The Bernard Shaw.