The hip hop community is much like Ireland, in that it loves an eccentric. Someone who lives on the fringes, but dips into the mainstream to scare the locals and delight other outcasts. From Lil B putting curses on sports teams, to Young Thug wearing “women’s clothes”, to Lil Ugly Mane exploring dozens of aliases, rap fans are drawn to enigmas.
There’s something incredibly punk about Craic Boi Mental.
While his vocals and lyrics don’t always hit the mark, he’s not in music to make masterpieces, he’s here to fuck with your perception of an artist. Along with his wife Whip Girl, he’s been releasing tape after tape, track after track, video after video, and now he’s shared a new project called ‘Cork City Anthems’, which features Invader Slim, Fynch and lots of production collaborators.
While Craic Boi is the alias most aligned to his ‘true’ personality, he’s challenging what a ‘real’ personality is. We find out who he really is.
You’ve got a lot of artists on your side right now, why do you think you speak to them so much? Why are you the rapper’s rapper?
I guess rappers love me ’cause I’m one of the very few artists in this country that can express my art uninhibited and many wish they could do the same. I never cared about what other people thought of me cause I’m secure in myself and the art I put out there. I guess as fellow artists they respect that. Some of ’em think there’s something wrong with me so they share my shit to laugh at my expense with their buddies, that don’t bother me either, they the ones hyping it up.
You’ve also got people like Blindboy bigging you up. Is mainstream Ireland ready for you yet?
Yeah Blindboy’s always been sound and very supportive. I guess we come from the same planet of mickery. I used to listen to the classics like ‘Spoiling Ivan‘ and ‘Bags of Glue‘ on repeat growing up so it’s great to see he rocks with my stuff now. It was Irish hip hop legend Rob Kelly that put him onto me.
Not sure if mainstream Ireland will ever accept me, I’m probably a bit too far over there for your aunt Betty to be jammin’ to while she puts the clothes out on the line. All good though with the internet I managed to build a cult following of mostly American fans at one stage.
What do you say to people who say you’re not being genuine, that it’s all an act?
Who are they to say that? I mean I feel like I’m artistically fluid if that makes sense, someday I’ll wake up and want to make a funny song, someday I’ll wake up and want to make a fire beat or someday maybe something more serious. I don’t know what percent of the time I’m “genuine”. All I know is I’m free artistically and if people want to put me in a box for how genuine they think I am then that’s on them.
How tongue in cheek are you though? How much of Craic Boi Mental is you?
Before I made music I was Craic Boi Mental I was always that crazy funny feen growing up and my music is a reflection of that.
We interviewed Kojaque before and he mentioned that the character of Kojaque is conceptual. How different is each of your aliases?
Well all of my aliases have many of my own personal characteristics, Dudewithswag was my more extreme confrontational side, King Flora was my self-righteous side coming to the fore, Oscar Benso was my triumphant return as my softer side, Yung Gowl was the furthest out I’ve been been from myself, but I do have a fondness for selection boxes. Mili$ was my gangster feminist side and Craic Boi Mental is the truest reflection of who I am; a mental feen having the craic out in the Irish countryside.
Does it get hard juggling your alter egos?
[Laughs] I normally get rid of the former alter ego before I venture on to a new one. Back in like 2016 I was juggling three different personas and sometimes when introducing myself onto a track I might shout out the wrong name.
Are they concepts each time?
Yung Gowl and King Flora were, but most the time I come up with a cool name and I let their character develop from there.
Speaking of Kojaque I’ve seen him retweeting your stuff recently. Did you squash the beef with him after you dropped ‘DAT BOI A LAME‘?
I always liked Kojaque, he’s extremely creative both sonically and visually. I just had to diss him to keep him on his toes and let him know who’s truly the realest G.
Did he ever clap back with a diss?
Nah not that I’m aware off. Maybe someday…
Speaking of beefs too, where is the Nialler9 spat going? Do you think it’ll spill onto the streets?
Nah, he owes me three packs of Polos and two mixtape shares for me and my wife to make things good.
Tell me about your creative relationship with your wife Whip Girl, did you meet through music?
Yeah, through music we went back and forth online for a week about how we didn’t feel supported in our music then we met up a few days later and got married on the Cliffs of Moher four months later.
Does being creative together put a strain on your bond or does it make it stronger?
Definitely stronger, Whip Girl is a perfectionist while I’m a one take man. Get in done get it out, but we work together well. Many women wouldn’t understand me or my art, so it’s great that she’s also an artist and an outcast too.
How was the honeymoon? You didn’t stop making music even while you were on holidays.
Music keeps me sane, we fell in love after meeting through music so it only made sense we would make music vids on our honeymoon. We saved up for six months and travelled nine different locations. We found out she was pregnant out in Rome but unfortunately the baby was lost in January so we’ve been going to the gym and I’ve been working on my mixtape ‘Cork City Anthems‘ to cope with the loss.
You released ‘Ireland’s Greatest Popstar‘, what made you try and move away from being called an Irish rapper?
People would always be listening to my music for “bars”, I don’t write or put thought into my lyrical ability, I’m a hit maker so the title of popstar fits me more. I’m still the rawest mofo in the underground though.
You wore a dress during that stage, do you think it’s important to subvert masculinity?
Yeah for sure, I used to piss a lot of people off in the past in my diss vids for wearing women’s coats. In general there is a lot of toxic masculinity in Irish hip hop, I can see why many women or people of other genders would be afraid to join the scene. I think Irish rappers should put together a festival where they all perform in dresses
with the proceeds going towards noble causes.
Where do you see music in Ireland going in the next few years?
I see it heading in a very positive direction. Team Sesh and people like them are really giving the Irish hip hop scene a chance, with brownsauce’s amazing visuals and collaborations. People like Kojaque, Luka Palm, Burner Records and Unscene Music are doing amazing work too across the country.
What will you contribute to it?
I’m in the process of trying to create a lo-fi pop sound through my label Sham Rebel Records. It’s the kind of sound you can here on my collaborative project with Whip Girl called ‘Da City People’ EP and on the ‘Ireland’s Greatest Popstar’ song. I have recently put out a solo mixtape ‘Cork City Anthems’ which is mostly produced by myself.
I want to continue to collab with talented Irish acts like Invader Slim, Fynch and Fomorian Vein who I collaborated with on the latest project. I have a gig with Good Name in Kaizan at Yamamori Tengu up in Dublin on March 28. Apart from that I’m going to continue doing what I do, make catchy hits and confuse people.