When Rusangano Family won this year’s Choice Music Prize, it signalled a real shift in Irish musical tastes, It was also another sign of Ireland’s growing and very welcome musical diversity.
It was the first time in the Choice Prize’s 12-year history that the award went to an act largely made up of black artists. Long overdue because let’s face it, the Irish music scene has never been so vibrant and so diverse.
So as we celebrate St Patrick’s Day and notions of Irish identity become more fluid, here’s some of the most ‘cúl’ Irish tracks from the New Irish artists to get you feet jigging this weekend.
Rusangano Family: Lights On
Anyone complaining that there isn’t enough Zimbabwean/Togolese/West of Ireland hip-hop can now relax. Rusangano Family are the most exciting contemporary acts on the Irish music scene right now and their win at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize last week (Let The Dead Bury The Dead) was richly deserved. Spilling out lyrics that reflect their diverse backgrounds, they are creating some of the freshest beats on the Irish scene right now.
Hare Squead: If I Ask
Describing themselves as «three black Irish kids making waves», this trio from Tallaght and Blanchardstown in Dublin certainly have been just that. Mixing RnB, hip-hop, soul and pop to good effect, their best-known tune If I Ask is a tune and half and one for the dancefloor. Watch this space and mind the dresser!
Soulé: Good life
Is this London-born Dublin lass the future of Irish music? God we hope so. Cooler than a polar bear’s paw, the talented singer-songwriter cites Erykah Badu, Macy Grey, ASA, and Nneka as her influences and it shows. Her new track is a banging 90s slice of delight and deserves to go to number one for a long, long time.
Bobby Basil x Wastefellow: Poppybella
Dah Jevu were one of the freshest acts on the Irish hip-hop scene, thanks to their dark lyrics and clever production, but sadly Chris Montana and Bobby Basil decided to go their separate ways after their final gig at Electric Picnic last year. As they move on to other projects, this collaboration between Basil and producer Wastefellow proves that Irish hip-hop in 2017 remains in rude health.
Jafaris – Love Dies
Last year, Jafaris aka Percy Chamburuka had a part in Sing Street, the feelgood tale of one boy’s dream of rock stardom in Dublin of the 1980s. Things have certainly changed. Dubliner Chamburuka is an inspiring actor and shows real promise but he’s also been proving his talent for RnB, rap and hip hop. He impressed many at last year’s Hard Working Class Heroes and in 2015 and in 2016. Jafaris is one to watch.
John O’Driscoll/Alan Corr