Erin Go Hard: Ireland’s Biggest Hip-Hop Stars

By Travis Helwig

It’s St Patrick’s Day and in America we usually celebrate by drinking green beer and vomiting into public trashcans. To help you get an early start on the festivities, we compiled a list of Ireland’s biggest hip hop artists for all your mid-week partying. While these rappers have yet to make an impact here in the States, give a listen to this group of Irish artists currently on their grind.

Messiah J. and the Expert

Nominated in 2006 for Ireland’s Choice Music Prize, this rapper/producer duo are based out of Dublin. Messiah J sports a clean shaven head, a goatee and a flow reminiscent of Aesop Rock. The Expert’s producing style is on the slower side, often looping old strings and horns that would work perfectly under Talib Kweli vocals. Arguably the most respected Irish artists in the hip hop game, Messiah J. and The Expert have performed with Public Enemy, Jurassic 5, De La Soul and Wyclef Jean.

The Rubberbandits

According to the Irish Recorded Music Association, there is no hip hop artist in Ireland bigger than The Rubberbandits. A comedy rap dup composed of Blindboy Boat Club and Mr. Chrome, The Rubberbandits perform every show wearing white masks framed with large, jutting beards. The Rubberbandit’s new single “I Want To Fight Your Father” is currently #13 on the Irish Charts, and it’s music video focuses on two traditional Irish Step Dancers getting down in bright pink valor sweat suits. You know, real Irish hip hop.

GMC

Type “Irish Hip Hop” into YouTube and you’ll see one name over any other: GMC. GMC has a thicker Irish accent than Messiah J or The Rubberbandits and comes with a level of higher intensity. He proudly references the Irish rap scene and spits over catchy electronic dance beats similar to those produced by UK rap unit The Streets.

Rob Kelly

Rob Kelly calls himself “The Nicest Rapper You’ve Never Heard Of.” He’s aggressive, confident and shares the vocal syncopation of Dr. Dre. Kelly uses metaphors, similes and wordplay similar to what’s dominating the current American mixtape scene. In a just a brief listen, you’ll hear references to Lauren Hill, House of Pain, The Dropkick Murphys and endless other artists you know.