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9 acts that need to make their Irish debut

Words: Dylan Murphy
Photo: Ashnikko by Vasso Vu

From internet-breaking singers and enigmatic RnB stars to the new kids on the block we’ve gathered the 9 acts that we need to perform for the first time in Ireland when it is safe to do so.

Everyone’s fingers and toes are crossed for the imminent return of packed crowds and sweaty basements. With festivals in England announcing their lineups and rescheduling performances for the late summer, the possibility of live music feels more tangible than ever.

Moreover, there’s a curious development arising of new artists reaching swathes of new fans during lockdown but are yet to play their music to a live crowd. With that in mind, we’ve curated a line up in no particular order of the acts we need to see make their debut on Irish soil, including some familiar faces who incredibly haven’t touched down in Ireland yet and other newer acts.

9

Smino

St. Louis native Smino was scheduled to perform in Ireland for the first time in March of last year. For obvious reasons, he couldn’t make it, but it means the hype for his headline show has been steadily building and by the time it eventually comes round the energy will be off the charts.

With Smino being part of two supergroups there’s scope for performances of legendary proportions were he to tour with either crew. Ghetto Sage features fellow midwesterners and frequent collaborators Saba and Noname. Meanwhile, Zoink Gang sees Smino link with JID, Buddy and Guapdad 4000.

Wild Irish Roses’ is a cert to go off live on Irish shores.

8

NAYANA IZ

NiNE8 Collective is a conveyor belt for DIY creative talent. Having kickstarted the careers of Biig Piig and Lava La Rue, NAYANA IZ is next up from the London-based crew.

Marrying her Indian heritage with her experience growing up in London over a myriad of forward-facing instrumentation, the young trailblazer’s records defy categorization. Her latest SMOKE & FLY EP feels like a late-night trip down memory lane, exploring the experiences that made her the artist she is today.

Only at the start of her journey, we’d love to see her grace Irish shores in an intimate venue before she inevitably packs out bigger shows.

7

Channel Tres

There’s a basement rave-shaped hole in my heart at the moment and once things are back to normal we are going to need a quick injection of dark and dingy nights to make up for the time spent drinking cans on our sofas.

Compton native Channel Tres is a childhood friend of August 08 and DUCKWRTH and narrowly avoided a career in EDM in order to develop his beautifully dense sound.

Having remixed Tyler, The Creator’s ‘Earthquake’ and later invited the Odd Future co-founder for a guest verse on ‘Fuego’, he’s got what it takes to coax established stars off-piste. Tres was scheduled for a few European dates prior to the coronavirus outbreak and he’s top of our list of electronic acts that need to shell it here.

6

Pa Salieu

Coventry’s Pa Salieu is one of rap’s most resilient young up-and-comers – not even getting shot in the head can stop his rise to the top.

Following his debut mixtape Send Them To Coventry, Pa won the BBC Sound of 2021 confirming his status as one of the most exciting trailblazers in the UK right now.

Possessing a truly unique sound that blends elements of afroswing, drill, hip hop and dancehall he’s at the forefront of a new wave of UK artists unbeholden to any one style or sound.

5

House of Pharaohs

UK rap is having a moment. There’s no shortage of variation and different styles and House of Pharaohs are perhaps the greatest examples of the indefinable quality that is rampant in the genre right now.

They don’t fit the traditional UK rap group mould. They aren’t on the drill wave and aren’t restricted by any of the quintessential tenants of grime. With ‘RWM’ being played on Blonded radio it’s just one example of the level of co-signs they’ve been routinely receiving.

Made up of six rappers and numerous other creatives, it’s a collective that is defying genre. Sam Wise, Blaze, Bandanna, Kevin Taylor and AJ were set to grace the stage at The Road To The Great Escape in Dublin, but will no doubt be back in Ireland once it is safe to do so.

If no one books them I’m starting a petition to get them here.

4

Ashnikko

Ashnikko is the larger than life singer and rapper that’s dominated Tik Tok for the past year. If there’s an artist to help you shake off the monotony of life during a pandemic then the North Carolina hitmaker is a sure bet as any.

Underneath the blue hair and otherworldly attire, there’s a sharp edge to her lyrics that challenge patriarchic structures and celebrate body positivity.

Hits like ‘Cry’ and ‘Daisy’ that feature on her DEMIDEVIL mixtape form the blueprint of the utopian vision she has for a better world. The missing component to the Ashnikko universe is hell-raising live shows and we wait patiently for her to tear up stages soon.

3

Darkoo

At just 19 years old, Darkoo is providing the hip-shaking hits that were made for the summer blow outs that never happened.

Her breakout anthem ‘Gangsta’ highlights the borderless approach to craft that sprinkles inspiration from the UK underground into danceable cuts with international appeal.

We could definitely envisage her on a Longitude lineup providing those peak summer glow up anthems.

2

Chika

Whether it’s making the 2020 XXL Freshman class, receiving co-signs from Barack Obama, dropping a stunning Tiny Desk Concert or getting nominated for a GRAMMY this year, Chika is a rapper living up to the hype.

Feeling as comfortable gliding over thumping trap production as she does on more traditional sounds, Chika is carrying the torch for hip hop’s history of storytelling without compromising her forward-facing sound.

Having just dropped her ONCE UPON A TIME EP, it’s time one of rap’s most compelling storytellers gets to deliver her sermons to her attentive listeners in a live setting.

1

Brent Faiyaz

Brent Faiyaz took the past year by storm.

Unconcerned with modern ideas of clout, Brent is relatively quiet on social media and leaves his music to do the talking. 2020’s Fuck The World EP provided a hazy mish-mash of conflicting emotions that coalesced to form the backbone of his hedonistic songwriting.

His enigmatic status subscribes to the same school of thought as Frank Ocean and the early works of The Weekend, leaving live shows feeling like a rare entry point into the glamourous lifestyle he writes about. With a collaboration with Tyler, The Creator under his belt already this year, it feels as though the Maryland native is on the cusp of something special.