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Dublin’s once-insular music scene is being transformed by a global-facing DIY hip-hop scene. It’s a long way from the hackneyed Irish music stereotypes of Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl
Down a dingy industrial backstreet, a queue assembles outside Hangar, a former shirt factory in the heart of the creative quarter of Dublin. Guests, unperturbed by the rain drenching their outfits, are gathered for a regular rap, trap and R&B club night. Inside, there is a welcome lack of posturing and posing; instead, dance-offs and school-disco snogging are scored by Big Sean, Travis Scott, A$ AP Rocky and Fetty Wap. Three men in particular – one holding court on the dancefloor with his top off, the other two behind the decks – are orchestrating the mood of the club. Jessy Rose, Tony Konstone and Lilo Blues, otherwise known as Hare Squead, are a local group who are about to go global.
Squead are pioneers of a creative boom taking place in Dublin. Their music is a very contemporary fusion of trap, rap, R&B, pop, jazz and electronics; their song Zoo of the New was inspired by a Sylvia Plath poem, while Christian music is a big influence on their chords and harmonies. They have Ed Sheeran’s business savvy, compositional expertise , plus chiselled jaws and puppyish enthusiasm. So much so that, when we meet Rose, he tries to insist we go trampolining rather than do the interview.