Jonnyboy Onstage in Dublin

HOMETOWN HERO JONNYBOY CATCHES UP WITH RAP IRELAND

“On the last album 99% of the beats were ripped off, as the whole purpose of the album was so I could have material to get gigs, get noticed and have funds to work on this album.” – JONNYBOY

Jonnyboy is part of the new breed. Straight-talking and hard-hitting, the Dublin Northsider is on the verge of releasing his latest album, an album that has tightened up the rhymes and content without losing the unique gritty sound that has gained the young rapper such a strong local support. However, local support can only carry you so far, so we decided to sitdown with Jonnyboy to see just what it is like for an upcoming artist in Ireland to promote releases with little or no financial backing.

You’re going for a different sound with this album, with a much stronger production team – who do you have working on the new release?
Well we have all the beats done and it should be tied off in very soon. Collie is doing the mixing and mastering and it will consist of about 13 tracks, all from Irish Hip Hop producers. I have Scooby and Danny Digs working on it, both savage producers who worked with Rob Kelly and Killa Priest from Chicago. It’s the first time I have released material on original beats. On the last album 99% of the beats were ripped off, as the whole purpose of the album was so I could have material to get gigs, get noticed and have funds to work on this album.

What process was involved in putting together this album, and what kind of sound were you aiming for?

I chopped up a lot of samples, anything I liked really, especially 70′s soul tracks. Anything with a good drum I would take and chop to bits until it’s unrecognizable. All the beats tie in together. It’s relatable working class music. There’s a similar theme to the first album, no bling bling tracks, just proper honest music. When it comes to the writing it depends on the beat, we write around that. Once you get the melody you download a sample, chop it up and put drums to it. I discovered a much easier way to create beats, rather than banging away on a keyboard for hours, is to just sample a drum in a good song, ‘The Game’ for example, then chop it up to bits; nobody knows the difference. We use all proper Hip Hop beats on this album, some maybe more accessible than others but Hip Hop nonetheless. There are only five decent producers in Ireland and I have two of them on my album.

Irish artists have been releasing albums for a long time but most ultimately fail when it comes to promotion. How are you going to ensure this gets heard beyond your circle of loyal fans?

Project Hip Hop is on board and at the moment they are planning to manage and promote this album but if not we will do it ourselves. We’ll press a load of cd’s and harass people on the radio! To get radio play in this game it’s who you know. The plan is to basically promote the hell out of it. I’m confident knowing it’s a solid album with all Irish beat makers. It will be far superior to other Irish albums. This is my full time job so I have plenty of time on my hands to promote it.

Bypassing traditional media seems to be the way Irish hip hop is going and you have already generated quite a buzz on the internet…

Yeah the videos we put up on Bebo and YouTube have got over 125,000 views which is pretty good considering we made it in my kitchen and recorded ourselves! Somebody in Irish Hip Hop needs to get on the radio though and get some airplay, not at 1:30 am when nobody is listening. If one track went mainstream nationwide it would kick off because the quality is there. If you get tracks played on the radio you get recognised.

You have supported Olivia (G-unit) Styles P and Republic of Loose… How did that come about?

Live gigs in Dublin at the moment are saturated with Indie bands and organising Irish Hip Hop gigs is expensive and then you hardly pocket anything from them. I’ve done a few gigs in Eamon Doran’s and rocked the house but didn’t even get a free drink. You need to build a good relationship with promoters and have tracks played on radio… there is no infrastructure in place for Irish Hip Hop artists at the moment.

What does the future hold?

Going forward I’m hoping to get the album up on I-tunes and continue making beats. There is money to be made in beatmaking, you can pocket a few bob, the sky is the limit doing beats, you can be anywhere in the world and sell them.

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