Dublin, Ireland – Hip Hop’s “face” continues to change as the musical genre becomes a global phenomenon. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that Ireland has come out with their own brand of rap music in the form of Chasing Abbey, whose debut EP, The Odyssey Project, debuted on Billboard last month.
Chasing Abbey consists of three Tullamore (a tourist mainstay; look it up) lyricists by the name of Ro, Bee, and Ted.
And, according to Bee, the mere existence of “Irish Hip Hop” is a continuation of a fine tradition of lyricism native to the Emerald Isle.
“Irish people have always been known as great storytellers by nature — [we have] poets such as W.B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde and lyricists like Shane MacGowan and Damien Rice,” he told HipHopDX. “Then there’s the Irish musicians, in particular, the Traditional Irish/folk musicians such as Finbar Furey and Christy Moore. We feel that’s where our way with words and melody’s stem from. It’s a fusion of Irish storytelling and traditional Irish melodies combined with influences from American Hip Hop/UK Grime that helped initiate Irish Hip Hop. For us personally, we’re mainly inspired by American Hip Hop artists like J. Cole, Kendrick, Migos, Post Malone. We also take huge inspiration from old school artists like Dr. Dre, Biggie, Tupac, and Eminem.”
A bit strange, really, to hear Slim Shady’s name mentioned in the same breath as the rabble-rousing lead singer of The Pogues, let alone in the same breath as the bard behind “Leda and the Swan.” Nevertheless, it makes sense: if Lil Nas X can fuse country western and Hip Hop, there’s no reason why Chasing Abbey can’t strum a lyre while spitting 16.
But don’t think of this Hip Hop trio as a gimmick: these guys have played sold-out shows with The Chainsmokers, and have opened up for a virtual who’s who in Hip Hop, including Travis Scott, Migos, Tyler, the Creator, and Post Malone. And while, yes, they did start out singing traditional Irish tunes (to be sure, no true Irishman would be allowed to leave his home without knowing all the words to “Molly Malone,” “Finnegan’s Wake,” and “Red Is The Rose“), they eventually transitioned to a respectable, and yes, rabble-rousing version of Hip Hop that’s gone over well with American audiences.
“We’re very happy with how American audiences have responded to our music. America is No. 3 in our top streaming countries and we’ve been picked up by various American media outlets. We feel that America could be the place where we truly achieve our dreams,” said Bee.
And they’re well on their way to achieving their dreams: The Odyssey Project, which was released as part of a joint venture with Universal, made its debut on Billboard.com when it was first released last month. This premiere, needless to say, got the group their flowers in their native homeland, and the Irish blog-osphere went wild with the news that one of their own had hit American shores — a Beatlemania for the 21st century, if you will.
The EP has gone on to be streamed hundreds of thousands of times and earned them a sold-out show at the Olympia Theatre in their native Ireland in June. They’ll then hit the summer festival circuit with A$AP ROCKY, Cardi B, and Chance The Rapper.
All of this is impressive, to be sure. But for Chasing Abbey, there’s one Hip Hop legend that they’d like to work with whose presence remains elusive.
“It would have to be Dr. Dre,” said Ted. “We grew up listening to his music. Whether it was directly him or music he had produced. We can relate to him a lot because he is both an artist and a producer and we feel that’s what we are. I guess before we started actually making this type of music we just admired and loved his music, but as we dove deeper into the production and sounds, we began to study his work — how he made the drums sound so good, how he found space and frequencies.”
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