"I'm The Chazz Michael Michaels of this shit."Share
Rob Kelly is fast becoming the main man on the Irish hip hop scene. With two mixtapes under his belt and gearing up to a full release, Wexford native, Kelly has already had a big hit in the form of "Dropkicked," which sampled the Dropkick Murphy's song "Shipping out to Boston." A massive internet star and a Myspace featured artist, he is burning a trail as Ireland's premier rap star and future hip hop legend and has even been featured in premier rap magazine XXL in the states.
Kelly collaborated with Mr Green and La Coka Nostra/Special Teamz member, Slaine from Boston on the song "Dropkicked." The song took Myspace by storm and had thousands of plays within its first few days of being uploaded to the site. The track was inspired in part by the relationship Rob formed with boxers Oisin Fagan and undefeated rising star Andy Lee of the world famous Kronk Gym. Andy Lee used the song to enter the ring in his homecoming fight in Limerick, Lee also appears in the video.
The man himself answered some questions For Scruff Daddy.
How did you get into rapping?
I used to watch a show in the early 90's when I was around 11 or 12 called "Dance Energy." It was on BBC2 and presented by Normski. They had some excellent live in studio guests and it was a fantastic introduction to hip-hop music. Also I used to have a thing for Betty Boo, remember her?
Who are your influences?
I am influenced by all the great emcees and lyricists. I don't know if I can list them all in one go. People who beat their wives, tortured geniuses like myself and Bobby Brown.
What influences you when writing?
I don't write, I'm like Biggie, Jay-Z and Stephen Hawking a bit like that. Genius but it's not written down
Do you think that being Irish affects how you write? As in do you write from a different perspective because you're Irish, or do you think it matters?
I am a very proud Irish man so of course it influences everything, my slang, my behaviour, so of course it comes through.
What's your opinion of the Irish hip hop scene?
I don't really hold any opinion on it. Thats not a dis, but to me a scene comprises of some sort of activity and unity and on the surface it would appear there is not much of either.
How does the Irish hip hop scene compare to other scenes you have encountered?
In France, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Germany, all of these places, they support their own. In Ireland we don't really like to congratulate our own when we do well. I think that goes across the board though not just in our scene but its a very Irish mentality. A lot of people always look to what was done in the past, what came first and while you have to respect that and I do, I don't feel I get enough credit for taking it as far a field as I have. I'm not going to start listing achievements but give me some credit for what I've done. In hip-hop people hate you when you are doing better than them. In Ireland people hate to see people doing well so its a bad combination. I work alone. I'm a lone wolf I'm the motherfucking Chazz Michael Michaels of this shit.
Whats the Irish audience like?
If you work on your live show then the audience will respond to you. It doesn't matter where they are from. I always get good responses from audiences no matter where I go, so I can't complain about them. So many shit live hip-hop acts in the world today. Irish rap acts like to rap to the ground and forget that they are in front of an audience and curse out the soundman.
What is the perception of Irish rappers from people you have encountered in the media and in general?
They don't really understand it until they hear it. Probably because most Irish Rap is not good enough. There are a handful of a few very capable acts but after that its actually a joke. Like you know when you watch Fair City and its so bad its good, but this is not even funny.
Rob and Andy Lee on the set of Dropkicked video.
How receptive is the Irish media to hip hop acts?
Irish media, they like the friendly acts and safe acts and gimmicks, they love gimmicks. Its funny I'll give you two examples. I couldn't get playlisted on Spin FM or FM 104 with a song I could get on BBC. The guy from 104 was actually cursing out the kids ringing in looking for me and said, I quote "We will never play an artist like that." The same day I had an e-mail from Lenny S who was A&R at Def Jam. I can get airplay in London and New York but two Dublin stations won't play me. There was a time I was about to do a lucrative pay per view tv show in the USA. It was a fairly big deal. The Late Late show passed on me because they said I wasn't suited to their audience. The other week they had "The Satanic Sluts" on it...fuck sake. As much as I like "Hot Press" they only called when I did a song with Bleek. Reviewers always have a little jibe and all that about it not being the norm.
Then when you do get air time they are all, "Do us an aul rap there now." Like I don't do anything except freestyle? Bitch go ask fuckin Snow Patrol or The Script to sing you an aul impromptu song. While we are on it. RTE. How come that little lad has three presenting jobs in the middle of the credit crunch? Ya know him? Little fella off the cafe, he is spinning the wheel and all now, fuck sake.
How have the mixtapes gone down in Ireland and overseas?
Really well, the mixtapes have just been preperation for the album. That was it, preparing for the album. They have all sold out. I am doing one more mixtape with my DJ, Mo-K and after that the album will be out. And the album is sounding big, I promise.
Do you feel you will have to leave Ireland in to order to make a career from rapping?
It will all depend on what is on the table when we pitch the album. I have already had an offer from a major digital label but we will have to see who comes up with what when its all done.
What's your opinion of hip hop in 2008?
I still love hip-hop as much as I always did. There is plenty of good music out there. Tell you what I don't like, Kanye's new beard, I'm not feeling that, or Wayne Rooney stealing my red beard. Beards are hip-hop these days. Shout out to Peter Beardsley.
Rob Kelly, Andy Lee and some hotties.
How important has Myspace and the internet been in your career?
Its been everything, without Myspace I wouldn't have a career so to speak. I am reaching so many people all over the world, day in day out.
Where do you see it going in the future?
Its constantly changing I guess some digital changes to combat piracy would help rejuvenate the flagging sales of music would be nice or just helping to catch predators is good.
How important is collaborating with different producers and rappers in hip hop?
It depends, I guess it adds variation. I'm lucky because my main producer Mike Donnelly can work in many different styles, his new stuff is so far ahead of anything that's ever been done here. I don't care who takes offence to that because I'm telling the truth. I could kill him sometimes because he is so slow but thats a different issue. Scooby is another great guy from Ireland.
Any dream collaborations?
I just did something with Mik from Republic of Loose. I'd love to work with Shane McGowan or Cathy Davey. As far as hip-hop it would probably be DJ Premier just to get something timeless. I would like to collaborate with a midget at some stage, a real one with the big heads and all, Is there any midget singers? Get a little midget, ya get them for half nothing anyway and just have him drive me around and all and be my hypeman. Mo is small but he is not a real midget. I want a little fella. I'll get him the same pairs of runners as me and all.
Whats been your career highlight to date?
Seeing a bunch of people wearing my t-shirts and singing the words to my songs in different countries is priceless. I never envisaged that could happen when I started. Having the boxers use my stuff to walk to the ring was huge for me cos im a big boxing fan. Oh and getting in XXL was cool or when I was doing a gig with Collie one time in Ri-Ra and his dj's girlfriend walked into the door. Thats probably the biggest highlight.
Whats next for Rob Kelly?
I don't really know. Like I said it will depend on who offers what. I have big plans for a particular song in 09. Expect some new videos and Youtube shit and the new mixtape with Mo and we will see what happens. It took a minute for me to get focus back after I had to shelf Dropkicked over sample clearance issues. That disoriented me because I was on my way. I had one major label in the states contact my publicist the day that video dropped and XXL called the same day and i had to put it all on hold. But I'm back working hard again now and I am nearly finished the album so I'm not done yet. I also want to get into FÁS, robbin bastards.
Check it: www.myspace.com/robkelly