It's been quite the summer so far; whether you've been glued to the telly watching the World Cup or hooked on Love Island, we really can't complain. On top of that we've been having some glorious weather which makes you question what country we're actually living in. Meanwhile, for a new generation of Irish artists the summertime feels like the perfect moment for them to make their mark. The likes of Jafaris, Tebi Rex, Soulé, JyellowL, Kojaque and Hare Squead are making waves outside the Emerald Isle and it seems like they're really coming of age as artists.
If you have been following the Irish music scene for the last few years you will be well aware of how a new generation of artists are reshaping the sound of the country. It's one thing for us to recognise the talent in our midst but it's another for those further afield to take notice. Out of this new crop of artists, Hare Squead were the first act to really announce themselves on an international stage, touring with Dua Lipa and teaming up with hip hop sensation GoldLink. They recently released their new single Flex on You with producer Zdot, and with plans for more music on the way they continue to be trailblazers for this new generation.
The superbly talented Jafaris has always been highly regarded in Ireland but it's taken time for him to grow his reputation abroad. Sometimes though, all it takes is that one song - for Jafaris that was Found My Feet, an incredibly apt title as it's clear he's really maturing as an artist. Complex UK recently premiered the video for the single and the reaction has been nothing short of stellar, the song and video give you all the summer vibes you could want. It feels like the start of something big for an artist who we've been raving about over here for quite some time.
— Complex UK (@complex_uk) July 5, 2018
Jafaris isn't the only one who has being making noise this summer - the flamboyant duo of Tebi Rex are also gaining notoriety for their eclectic brand of pop and hip-hop. Their new single Peggy's Bus garnered attention abroad as it was included on the New Music Friday playlist in the UK. There is a level of respect that's been earned by Irish artists in recent years and they no longer have to prove themselves for people to give them exposure. There is also the likes of up -and-comer Kojaque who really seems to be finding his voice as an artist.
— i-D (@i_D) July 10, 2018
Kojaque's brilliant debut LP 'Deli Daydreams' sees him draw inspiration from fellow Dublin rapper Rejjie Snow in terms of musical influences, with a backdrop of R&B and jazz. While there's a political edge to his music, there's also a focus on the mundanity of life. He sings about working a dead end job or nursing a hangover after a heavy night out. These themes are contrasted with a direct sense of anger and frustration of being part of the working class, and how he's viewed societally as a result. Politicksis deals directly with these issues as he laments about not having enough money to eat, let alone trying to buy a house. It's this sort of insight into Irish life that has seen him get attention across the Irish sea with a recent interview with i-D magazine in the UK.
While Kojaque deals with the issues facing us on our doorstep, another superbly talented Irish rapper, JyellowL, turns his attention to global issues. In the past, he has dealt with topics such as the migration crisis in Europe and police brutality in the US. His new track Medusa points the gun at hip-hop itself and questions the attitude of modern rappers. He examines the substance of modern hip-hop as he proclaims: "I’m sick of hearing things I sense no effort". JyellowL is also someone that respects the history of the genre and knows how powerful an art form it can be: "This metaphor is important to me, I paid hip hop respect now I wants the receipt."
There is another element to this group of artists that is refreshing to see, and that's their undisputed sense of identity. We are used to a lot of US and British rappers having a big part of their image centre around where they're from. This new generation of artists are proud of where they're from as well, and they know that it is intrinsically linked to who they are. They aren't afraid to say where they're from because they know that the Irish hip-hop scene has progressed massively in recent years - the quality is there for all to see. They even throw a few cúpla focial in there for good measure.
Conas ata tu nigga ?? pic.twitter.com/7uNHHKxH2z
— HARE SQUEAD (@HARESQUEAD) June 27, 2018
Repping Éire ??
— SOULÉ ( SOUL EAZY ) (@SouleOfficial) July 6, 2018
It really is an exciting time for Irish music with these new artists continually changing people's perceptions of what Irish music is and what it can be. The great news is that you will have had a chance to see some of them at Longitude earlier this month.
If you have the chance to see some Irish acts over the coming months, do it, because this summer feels like it has been a seminal moment for this young group of talented artists.