Dublin rapper Kojaque is an artist steadily gaining ground on the Irish and international music scene. He mixes sampling and jazz beats with poetic, autobiographical lyrics which paint a vivid picture of life in Dublin.
Kojaque, the rap alter ego of Kevin Smith, first caught attention with his 2018 album Deli Daydreams, released on his own Soft Boy Records. Ostensibly chronicling a week in the life of a Dublin deli worker, the seven-track record meanders through Smith’s daydreams about love, loneliness and Dublin life in the lead up to the annual work Christmas party.
In a similar way to The Streets’ Original Pirate Material, Deli Daydreams manages to vividly capture the cultural environment of the city that spawned it. From abortion rights to the homelessness crisis, Kojaque rattles angrily through the issues that he sees plaguing Dublin – all the while jolting back to the depressing Secret Santa preparations and awkward coffee rounds at the deli.
Heartfelt, sombre and cinematic, it’s an unusual and brilliant record. One of its best tracks is the opener ‘White Noise’, a song about the north/south divide in Dublin: “That’s two steps the wrong direction, don’t you be here / Say that post code wrong, I wanna break you”. With the musical accompaniment reduced to woozy synth drones and Fender Rhodes twinkles, it’s a pretty fearless track to start with – a declaration that Kojaque needs nothing to hide behind.
A further standout is ‘Politicksis’, whose seductive jazz grooves are the backdrop to another lyrical tirade lamenting Dublin’s divides: “Misinformation’s been rife in my city / So we erect the murals / Let art paint the heart of the grit of your mouth / Still scream “Up Da Ra!” when we never set foot out the South.” This one features the silky vocals of Soft Boy Records pal Luka Palm, another promising figure in Dublin’s hip-hop scene.
In a similar way to The Streets’ Original Pirate Material, Deli Daydreams manages to vividly capture the cultural environment of the city that spawned it.
Making further use of the musical affinity that the pair enjoy, Smith and Palm have just released a collaborative mixtape entitled Green Diesel, which features three familiar tunes as well as six new tracks. More extroverted than Deli Daydreams, this record sees the pair’s egos a little more inflated, and the swooning jazz beats given a rawer, modern edge.
In terms of his recent live shows, Kojaque has been putting in serious work. He toured with Palm in September, supported Slowthai in October is now embarking on a hefty headline tour of his own. Balancing on-stage confidence with humble appreciation, his shows are consistently praised for their effortless dynamism. With an inkling that he’ll be graduating to larger stages pretty soon, we can’t wait to catch Kojaque at Soup Kitchen this December.