Words: District Staff
Photography: George Voronov
Are you an MC with the goal of following in the footsteps of Ireland’s most exciting acts? If so, Havana Club and District have teamed up for BREAKTHROUGH; a competition to find Ireland’s next breakthrough MC.
Rap in Ireland is having a moment. Last year, Denise Chaila followed in the footsteps of close friends MuRli and God Knows when she collected her award for the RTÉ Choice Prize Album of the Year for her stunning mixtape Go Bravely. Meanwhile, with the increasing number of modern poets taking to the art form we’re losing count of how many MCs have been nominated in the past five years for the coveted prize.
These accomplishments have been made against the odds and even in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, rappers from across Ireland are continuing to defy expectations even without the opportunity to cut their teeth in the live arena.
At District, over the past 6 years, we’ve watched acts like Kojaque, JyellowL, Jafaris and more go from fledgling acts spitting bars in their bedroom to boundary-pushing artists with swathes of listeners across the globe.
Likewise, Havana Club share the same appreciation for the burgeoning Irish hip hop culture and with this in mind, we teamed up with Havana Club in 2019 to bring four acts from Ireland on the verge of breaking out to Cuba. Here Nealo, Fehdah, Denise Chaila and God Knows soaked in the exotic surroundings and tapped into the once in a lifetime experience before respectively releasing some of their most seminal work.
Since the trip, the artists involved have gone from strength to strength and we thought it’s only right we join forces with Havana Club again to pass the torch to the next generation of Irish artists in a new educational programme.
Enlisting the help of none other than God Knows, MuRli and Nealo as judges and mentors, the programme will see one rising artist guided through the process of writing a single with three of modern Irish music’s most celebrated acts.
God Knows is Ireland’s most important musical connector. Alongside MuRli and mynameisjohn, they wrote and produced the first hip hop album to win the RTE Choice Prize. So I guess you could say they know a little bit about writing.
Having worked extensively with Ireland’s most recent breakthrough star Denise Chaila and earning co-signs from everyone from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon to Run The Jewels, it’s hard to emphasise the pedigree of the pair’s work.
Nealo made waves when he dropped his debut solo album All The Leaves Have Fallen and subsequently was nominated for the RTÉ Choice Prize Album of the Year. Finding support in the likes of Jay Electronica, the Clonsilla MC’s unique career path lends itself to crafting compelling songs.
Artists submit music between 1-3 minutes showcasing their lyrical skill and songwriting ability.
A shortlist is drawn up of 10 potential candidates and the winner is selected a panel consisting of the District team, MuRli, God Knows and Nealo.
The winner will get one-on-one studio time with MuRli who will produce a bespoke track.
God Knows and Nealo will mentor the candidate and provide advice throughout the process.
Once completed District will provide a full suite of assets to ensure the candidate obtains premium experience in the art of music rollout. This includes:
A photography session to get your press shots; a bio and press release; cover design for your single; social posting and a premiere of the single on the District website.
Send a Soundcloud link, MP3 or Wav. file no longer than 3 minutes of you rapping over the beat of your choice to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading ‘Breakthrough Competition’.
This competition is open to people over the age of 18 only.
The winner must be available to record the track at a studio in Dublin between July 2nd – July 12th.
Please enjoy Havana Club responsibly
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