Irish Contribution to Hip Hop

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With St. Patrick’s Day this month, we here at the Hip-Hop Culture Center decided to take a look back at some of the Irish contributions to hip-hop. With the Irish having such a rich culture and hip-hop being an avenue where cultures flourish together, we thought it would a Pot of Gold to look at what the Irish have given the hip-hop nation. Of course, there’s no way this could be completely comprehensive, but we hope you enjoy what you hear and it moves you to check out what the land of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Swift have done with hip-hop!

Sinead O’Connor and MC Lyte – “I Want Your Hands on Me” (1987)
In 1993, an Irish hip-hop collective called The Marxman released 33 Revolutions Per Minute, an album combining traditional Irish music with elements of hip-hop. Included with the compilation was this 1987 collaboration between Sinead O’Connor and MC Lyte from theA Nightmare On Elm Street 4 soundtrack.

House of Pain – “Shamrocks and Shenanigans” (1992)
Of course the first name that comes to mind in terms of Irish hip-hop is House of Pain. Frontman Everlast, DJ Lethal and Danny Boy wore their proud Irish heritage on their sleeves, bringing a different definitively Irish sound to hip-hop. While this wasn’t the first time we saw Everlast or the last, this follow-up single to “Jump Around” was unquestionably the man at his most Irish.

Slaine – “99 Bottles” (2010)

Part of rap supergroups La Coka Nostra (with the aforementioned House of Pain) as well as Special Teamz (with Boston favorite Edo G.), Slaine’s been making a name for himself over the past five years for both his music as well as his acting, most notable a memorable role in Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone. The look and feel of his 2010 single “99 Bottles” is something of a spiritual successor to “Jump Around,” and makes for perfect St. Patrick’s Plundering.

Macklemore – “Irish Celebration” (2009)

Seattle-based Irish rapper Macklemore has been having quite the 2012. Appearing in both “The Source’s” Unsigned Hype column as well as “XXL’s” Freshmen 2012 list, he’s got a lot of eyes on him looking for what he’s going to do next.

Mac Lethal – “Jake & Olive” (2011)

Off his latest album Irish Goodbye, named for the act of leaving a bar without saying goodbye, former Scribble Jam battle champion and YouTube pancake-flipping sensation Mac Lethal brings us “Jake & Olive,” a touching true story about his Ireland-born grandparents who came to America and…well, I’ll let Mac take the story from here.

Rap Battle: Oshea vs. Nugget

Ireland has its own rap battle leagues as well. The biggest one, DFI, features some of the top Irish battle talent battling both one-another as well as established names overseas who have traveled to Ireland to take part. Here, Irish favorite Nugget takes on UK’s Don’t Flop battles champion Oshea is one of the most anticipated battles of 2012.

Irish Graffiti

Of course, the Irish have contributed to the other elements of hip-hop as well. Here’s a 1997 news feature on the beginnings of Ireland’s graff scene. As you can see, they’ve developed a very fresh and definitively Irish approach of their own!