We’re all aware of those behind the mic in Ireland pushing hip hop closer to the place it deserves to be in 2017. A new wave of MCs and singers have breathed new life in to a genre that has fought against all odds to take its place as one of Ireland’s most exciting and multi-cultural movements.
We now shed light on those behind the scenes, the beats, the nights and the visuals who are just as vital to keeping the scene evolving over the comings months and years.
Mo K has been championing Irish Hip Hop for over 15 years from starting out spinning hip hop on Vibe 99.1, a pirate radio station in the early 00s, to DJing for acts such as The Elements, Rob Kelly and Class A’z.
Now as a leading figure in the scene, Mo regularly premieres the best of Irish rap on his 2fm and RTÉ Pulse shows. He has kept an ear to the street and regularly champions not only the OG’s in the scene but also the younger crews coming up with his new cypher series.
In terms of hip hop in this country, Stevie G has been down since day one. Starting out DJing in the legendary Sir Henry’s in Cork, Stevie has gained a reputation as one of the corner stones of hip hop and R&B in Ireland.
Stevie continues to run hip hop nights and has had a hand in Cork city’s scene for decades. He has championed artists like GMC, Bony, Nash and even released the old school legend Tommy KD’s record ‘Karma’s a Bitch’ on his label, Anam Records. He also showcases the best of hip hop, grime, R&b and soul on his hugely popular show on RedFM, ‘Black on Red’.
Gav and Mark are two former school friends who came back in contact with each other by finding out they were both trying to make the same documentary simultaneously.
After combining forces, the two men behind ‘The Truth About Irish Hip Hop’ spent over a year and a half travelling across the country talking to every rhymer from Sligo to Sillogue Gardens to find out the current climate of the scene in 2017.
The documentary is a fantastic representation of Irish hip hop music from all angles, ages and sounds coming from the country today.
Choice Cuts are the blue ribbon bookers of hip hop, soul and funk in Ireland. Looking at the plethora of artists they’ve brought to Dublin, you can find anyone from Rakim to Roy Ayers, De La Soul to Danny Brown. After hopping around from The Village to The Button Factory they have set up home base in The Sugar Club on Leeson Street.
They consistently put Irish artists on for support duties and have everyone from the new school such as Jafaris to originators like DJ Mek grace their stage. Their next big hip hop gig in The Sugar Club is the legendary Pete Rock and CL Smooth.
MathMan has been on the hip hop scene in Ireland for over a decade now as one of the main taste-makers and contributors to the community.
Whether organising the cypher series with Mo K, curating all Irish stages at festivals such as Forbidden Fruit, hosting events such as the infamous Boom Bap BBQ with former crew The Animators, or Beat Club (a producer battle series held in The Bernard Shaw), MathMan has helped nearly everyone in the scene prosper in any way he can.
He also is known for his stellar production, mainly for MC Mango who he also performs live with.
Dublin Digital Radio presenter Staxx Lyrical is relatively new on the Irish circuit but has quickly established herself one of Irish hip hop’s leading voices.
Blending great independent and classic rap tracks every Saturday 3-4pm on DDR, she also includes as much Irish hip hop as she can, not only on the airwaves, but also playing at gigs. Her regular interviews with Irish artists gives a much-sough after insight into the inner-workings of these rappers.
The Ballymun native has been instrumental in forging the careers of so many northside Dublin MCs. Starting out with Lunitic and Urban Intelligence and creating the platform for Workin’ Class Records, the home of Costello, DJ Moschops, Lethal Dialect and G.I. who have created some of the most memorable Irish rap albums of last few years.
His work with youth clubs and the Axis centre has seen the introduction of using hip hop to help social change and encourage young people in Ballymun to engage with music and art. He is still currently managing Paul Awlright, fka Lethal Dialect.
What started out as a showcase for Irish singer songwriters in 2003 has morphed into the premiere showcase of not just great Irish music, but also international acts.
Hosted in a church in the cultural hotspot of Dingle, Co. Kerry, OV has hosted some legendary performances from acts such as Amy Winehouse, The XX and Damien Dempsey. With producers Aoife Woodlock and Tina Moran keeping an eye on the music that is forward thinking they have included some amazing hip hop acts in recent years from both abroad and Ireland such as Lethal Dialect, Rusangano Family, Young Fathers, Kojey Radical, Damola, Rejjie Snow, NEOMADiC and plenty more.
The Souletiquette collective have become a staple in the more wavy sounds in Ireland’s hip hop scene. DJ Scorpio, Rinkie, Mona Lxsa and other surrounding members have been running a label and radio show for over three years, pioneering producers, DJs and MCs who create a more abstract sound, from murky boom bap to trap soul.
They are regularly running nights and creating fantastic mixes that represent another side of hip hop in Ireland.
Mona Lxsa also works as the DJ behind rapidly rising vocalist Soulé.
Abbey Street is lucky to have two pretty iconic venues in Wigwam (formerly Twisted Pepper) and The Academy. The former has always been known for envelope-pushing electronic music, but in recent years The Academy has stepped up to the plate as one of the best bookers of hip hop.
Bringing the likes of Flatbush Zombies, Earl, Angel Haze, plus many more to Dublin, and hosting a memorable headline show for hometown hero Rejjie Snow have been just some of the jewels in their hip hop crown. They also regularly give local artists support slots, boosting their burgeoning profiles.
With shows from the likes of Joey Bada$$, AJ Tracey, Saba, and their now monthly It’s A Movement live Irish hip hip night all on the horizon too, it seems they’re not slowing down when it comes to top end bookings.
One of our favourite labels around, Soft Boy Records is spearheaded by producer and musician Kean Kavanagh and fan favourite rapper and producer Kojaque.
They’re pretty limitless when it comes to the type of music they sign and push, but when it comes to hip hop their ear is impeccable. Their next release is with Henry Earnest, and Kojaque himself is nearly finished with his next project.
Also, their merch promo game is incredibly strong…
Joining forces at a drum & bass night in the basement of the Twisted Pepper, Ivan and Chris started out to create a production facility for young urban music in Dublin.
Joined then by producer and engineer Marcin, the trio went on to make Diffusion Lab one of the premiere labels in the country. With artists such as Soulé, Jafaris, Killa Yan and Rushes on their roster they have the eyes of the music business, not just in Ireland but also overseas firmly locked on the output of the label.
They have made their studio available to the cream of the young urban musicians in Dublin to give them a space to be creative and record their own records.
Perhaps Ireland’s most successful export when it comes to radio, Annie Mac has one of the most trusted voices on the airwaves. When she says music is deadly, you know it’s probably going to be deadly.
That’s why when she spins an Irish hip hop record on air, it’s amazing for building hype around the genre in this country. She’s championed the likes of Hare Squead, she’s had Rejjie Snow in the studio, and more. Annie has gone beyond grassroots, but it’s good to have someone on our side pushing it to such a huge platform.
You might know mynameisJOhn as the selector and beat-maker behind Choice Music Prize winners Rusangano Family alongside MuRli and God Knows. However, that’s not where his immense contributions to Irish hip hop ends.
He’s known for promoting other acts from the west of Ireland, recently bringing fellow Limerick heads Same D4Ence to Townlands Carnival, as well as selecting them for support duties when touring. Him and his Rusangano crew also have a sharp focus on the spoken word and thought provoking side of hip hop, working with Blindboy from Rubberbandits and Emmet Kirwan.
Plus on his Still Breathing mix series you’ll find anything from Kendrick Lamar and Led Zeppelin, to Rejjie Snow and Contours.