01. Jar Jar Jr (or ｊａｒ ｊａｒ ｊｒ, to use the proper nomenclature) is the nom-de-plume of Cork beatmaker Robert O’Halloran.
02. He’s amassed quite the cult following for himself, particularly in the last year, where fan-made videos of his tracks have racked up massive views, including over 300,000 for fan visuals for his track ambitions.
03. The wider music internet has taken notice, with playlist site/aggregator Indie Shuffle placing him in their hip-hop best-of for 2016, alongside DJ Shadow, Chance the Rapper and Jurassic 5. As you do.
04. Streaming above is the video for ah well, released last month via his own Soundcloud, and featuring UK rapper/poet Looms. Visuals directed by Aleks Podhorowska.
Thoughts: Progressing from jazzier beatmaking to lo-fi compositions and collaborations in recent times, Jar Jar Jr.’s 2016 surely serves as a portent for bigger things this year.
Strangefish – Irish hip-hop superteam from the archives
What you may need to know…
01. Strangefish was/is a collaborative effort between Northern emcee Jee4ce, Belfast beatmaker SertOne, and Limrock cutman(s) Deviant & Naive Ted, operational between 2012 and 2013.
02. This self-titled E.P. was assembled inbetween shiftwork and fits of existential crisis in bedrooms in Liverpool, Dublin and Edinburgh, with ideas and bits flung back and forth over the interwebs.
03. It’s streaming and available for download in the widget above, releasing via Liverpudlian label Fly High Society.
04. The blurb/copy accompanying this record states that this is the “first compilation” from the outfit, implying either more archive material or fresh cuts down the road.
Thoughts: With the recognisable sonic fingerprint of each participant evident, this extended-player provides plenty for Irish hip-hop heads to dig into, while the EP’s digs into psychedelia and playfulness ought to appeal to first-timers.
01. Co-founder of the Community Skratch Games festival, and founder of the Unscene label/collective (see yesterday’s YMLT), Naive Ted is arguably one of the cornerstones of independent music in Ireland, in addition to his own ever-expanding body of increasingly experimental beat-tapes and production credits.
02. We’re reliably informed the follow-up to 2015 magnum opus The Inevitable Heel Turn is on the way.
03. Streaming above is a video released on the quiet over the post-Xmas/pre-New Year fug, for single Post-Factual (That Old Chestnut).
04. Appearing next at Quarter Block Party on North Main Street, Cork, from February 5th to 7th, where he’ll be performing all-new material which may or may not be new-LP-related. More info here.
Thoughts: More oddball beats and pieces with a reliably lo-fi feel, albeit a tad more ’90s-feeling in places. Looking forward to hearing where this might lead.
Mankyy – Clare beatmaker gets in with the first new release of the year
What you may need to know…
01. Mankyy is the beatmaking pseudonym of Clareman Daithí MacCrúitin. At a tender eighteen years of age, he’s already been up and down the country, sharing stages with This Side Up and the Cuttin’ Heads Collective.
02. Debut extended-player Character Development guest appearances from a litany of Irish hip-hop leaders, including Limerick trio Same D4ence, fellow prodigy Jonen Dekay, and Spekulativ Fiktion.
03. The E.P. is available for streaming and download in the widget above.
04. Technically the first release of the year in Ireland, the E.P. dropped in the early hours of New Year’s Day, via Limrock beatgods The Unscene.
Thoughts: Some absolutely scorching guest bars are the cherry on top of a well-developed, dense and eclectic collection of beats.
This year has been the strongest in recent memory for Irish music, managing so despite the dissolutions of a great many leading outfits in the community in times of yore, among them this year Fight Like Apes, Enemies and Funeral Suits.
In the eight months your writer has been doing daily explainers on Irish independent music, there’s never been a morning where we’ve been without content, a story to tell, something that’s exciting to put in post and press ‘publish’ on.
What a lot of us figured would be a passing golden era a few years back has become the foundation for something far more sustained – without so much as a look from daytime radio or television, and with minimal coverage from our country’s mainstream media (all this despite good people in each, fighting the good fight, might I add).
Ireland’s music scene is easily the equal of any other offering, anywhere in the world, and arguably, pound-for-pound, the best in terms of quality of releases.
With that being said, let’s dig in to the list.
The divisively-named Top Ten Irish Records of 2016 does come with a caveat, though – joint winners (both ranked #1, with the #2 spot vacated, for the pedants among you).
02. The Kralbum is the result of their collaborative labours, dropped by surprise last night via Limerick weirdo music propagation magnates The Unscene.
03. The twelve-minute, one-track mix can be streamed above, and downloaded for free from the project’s Bandcamp.
04. Other than telling us that apparently “Jukes reign supreme over nearly everyone“, there is literally zero other information on this particular project. This was an intentional move, according to the Unscene’s crack PR team.
Verdict: More handy, weirdy, noisy beats from the sweet spot of Irish hip-hop.
T-Woc – new album Sentinelas due soon on Rudimentary
What you may need to know…
01. Last we checked in with T-Woc, aka beatmaker Mick Donohoe, he’d just released his Jetstar E.P. on Limerick label The Unscene.
02. His follow-up is the first ever long-player released on Belfast hip-hop label Rudimentary, and comes from a trip to Brazil. Happening across Sao Paulo’s Feirão de Uma Milhao LPs market, Donohoe went digging, and among the stacks were some children’s comics that boasted of soundtrack 7″s that had long gone missing. A soundtrack for a lost kid’s comic, then, is Sentinelas, named for the comic’s villains.
03. Pre-orders are available now via Rudimentary‘s Bandcamp. Streaming above is a two-song preview, including lead-off tune O Tronco.