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Playback X Review: Is Hip-Hop In Ireland On The Rise?

Is the hip-hop scene in Ireland about to take flight?

Suppose you have sat at the kitchen table and debated with your parents about the popularity of hip-hop. Here, Playback X is the perfect reference point to show how artistic the contemporary genre has become. Erica Coady has meticulously curated a fine collection of some of Ireland’s most popular and up-and-coming artists. The artists are diverse and showcase the highly talented musicians Ireland has to offer. 

Playback X was commissioned to establish the hip-hop genre as one of the most popular types of music in the country. Coady was assigned the duty of hand-picking each video to showcase Ireland’s talent. Each music video is accompanied by a Zoom interview with the artist.

Primarily, the film poses the question to viewers – “Why do we make music videos?”. The answer for this is explicit throughout the piece, highlighting the importance of bringing music to life. Gemma Dunleavy’s video for “Up De Flats” epitomises the sense of unity music can bring to us all. Watching her family and friends dance around the streets proves the point that we don’t need glitz and glamour to show happiness in our own skin regardless of location. That is what Gemma was attempting to display in her music. And it is brought to life in her video. 

Underground Hip-Hop Rap Battle. Photo by Aleksandr Neplokhov from Pexels

Each music video brings something different to Irish music. Whether it’s vibrant or colourful visuals or intimate imagery, each video brings something different to the table. There’s plenty of naysayers out there who believe the future for Irish hip hop is non-existent. They’ll tell you it doesn’t suit our culture.

That our accent makes it off-putting. More importantly, they’ll argue that our lives here in Ireland do not compare to the grime streets of London or the gang-run communities of Compton. This film demonstrates that they are wrong. There is a multitude of talented Irish hip-hop artists out there, and their messages are as bold and unique as their American counterparts. 

The trailer for the film can be viewed above. Here, you will catch a glimpse at some of the videos on display in the film. Check it out!

A vast array of visually-gripping performances from James Vincent McMorrowTolu Makay, and Rejjie Snow captivate the different styles emerging from the Fresh Èire – a term used to describe the up-and-coming hip-hop artists of Ireland. The zoom conducted interviews about each project give us a deeper insight into their minds and where their inspiration came from.

From what is on display, it is evidently clear that rising stars are conveying their messages through film on an unforeseen scale. That scale had never been imagined possible from an industry that is not well documented by conservative-based media outlets.

Whether you’re interested in listening to sick new grime beats by the likes of Mathman or Rebel Phoenix. You could even enjoy listening to poetic-driven lyrics by artists like Denise Chaila. This collection will interest and intrigue you, and you may end up part of the Fresh Èire movement. Some of these performances are gripping and imaginative. Still, they all have the common goal to bark down on the cultural door of Irish society.

Kojaque’s “Shmelly” video has been praised by many. In 2020, he even managed to record a Colors’ version on their YouTube channel. Check it out!

As Coady stipulated towards the end of the piece, she could have chosen a list of 50 different songs and artists to fit this film. To those naysayers who believe there is no future for this genre in Ireland, please watch this film and tell me you are still correct.

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