Dublin Duo II.Kojaque

THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING IN THE WATER IN IRELAND. I mentioned it last week, but even though there country’s rap scene hasn’t got a lot of attention yet, they got some incredible fucking artists out there. JyellowL is there rapping about the political topics not everyone wants to hear. Irish Godfather of drill, INK, represents the aggression and anger that can surround the experiences of a mixed race youth. Then there’s Kojaque, one of the most unique and creative rappers I’ve come across.

I’ve had a ton of conversations about how much I appreciate albums that tell a cohesive story and aren’t just a bunch of random ass songs thrown together. Sure some tracks will stand out, that’s a given, but to understand the artist’s complete message, you need to listen to the project start to finish. It may never be considered a classic album by anyone, but I really loved Big Sean’s I Decided. because of how conceptual and personal it was, opening up a new side of Sean that can only be obtained by listening to the whole album. That’s why discovering how much I liked Kojaque’s Deli Daydreams (DD) didn’t surprise me in the slightest.

DD is a semi-autobiographical project told through the lens of a Dublin dude working a dead end job as a deli clerk. The project focuses on different stages of life, whether it be the struggles faced growing up in Dublin (White Noise), the country’s political highs and fuck ups (Politicksis), a night out after work (Last Pint), or dealing with a crush who doesn’t reciprocate those feelings (Bubby’s Cream). Yea, some songs on the surface may be more geared toward Irish-specific topics, but diving deeper proves many of the concepts Kojaque approaches can be applicable regardless of where you’re from. On these songs, he opens up in a real vulnerable manner, only making him a figure anyone can vicariously attach global and personal problems to, something he’s built off of in many of his more recent songs (No Hands is a great example of this, exploring grief and mental health). Choosing to tell this through the perspective of some working man character makes it that much more engaging.

To understand what makes Kojaque such an impressive artist, you have to understand that when you call Kojaque an “artist,” it goes a whole lot further than just music. A graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology, he studied fine art which he takes advantage of in a ton of his visuals. None of his music videos are just videos, they’re legit art - either in the form of a short film, performance piece, documentary style, or spoken word poetry videos. Regardless of which medium Kojaque uses, he always builds out a beautiful finished product that has you feeling some type of way after watching. And honestly, most of his work you end up watching multiple times, not because any of his visuals are over-the-top but because the portrayal of his messages are so captivating.

Take his video for White Noise where he goes for spoken word poetry. The video in itself isn’t anything crazy - black and white shots of him rapping at the end of a pier. What stands out is the aggression and pain and deep emotional connection he’s able to produce from the inflection of his lyrics to his intense camera stare down. He wears his heart on his sleeve, pouring out as much emotion as he can give to such a simple video. His visual for Midnight Flowers is cut from the same cloth. For this video, he raps with his head underwater - passing out by the time you get to the end of the song. This video could get a complete run down on its own, but to keep it quick, the song takes you inside the head of a person who’s lost someone incredibly important and the emotions they go through. To heighten the sense of despair of drowning in your thoughts, Kojaque literally drowns himself in the video. The final result is incredibly powerful and in my opinion represents everything good that art can be.

Musically, that’s where I think Kojaque could lose potential fans. Much of his music is kinda sleepy sounding or slow, utilizing a lot of jazz instruments that seem to be falling further out of style in modern music. If you like that type of music, I see absolutely no reason why Kojaque wouldn’t immediately become a favorite. But for those who don’t, I unfortunately see that keeping him from getting the complete recognition he deserves. Doesn’t help that he don’t really got bangers for easy listening. Dude will 100% be a niche superstar, I got no question about that, I just doubt he’ll get that mainstream success. Then again, he’s totally fine with that. A direct quote from a Complex interview: “Once you start caring about what other people think, in terms of music, I don’t think that’s very true.” So uhhh yeah, he should be fine with whatever result he ends up with. Listening to him may never be an easy thing - he commands too much of your attention - but the things that are most worth it are never easy. Kojaque is a true artist, one you won’t regret having in your life.

PERSONAL FAVORITES: Eviction Notice (feat. Kean Kavanaugh), White Noise, Midnight Flower, No Hands, Coming Up, Date Night (Kojaque x Luka Palm)

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