- 06 Jul 19
Jafaris, one of Irish hip hop’s most revered heavy hitters, earned widespread acclaim with the release of his debut album, Stride, earlier this year. As the Zimbabwe-born and Dublin-raised rapper continues his journey to stardom, it’s clear his roots have remained firmly intact.
“As a teenager, when I started rapping, there was a communal vibe in Dublin,” he says. “There were shows in hotel function rooms, shows in churches that people rented out for a day. There was a lot happening, and there definitely a vibe of ‘We’re coming up together.’”
Now one of the country’s most playlisted acts, his days of function rooms and church halls are far behind him.
“These days the favourite I’ve played in would have to be the Button Factory (Curved Street, Temple Bar, D2),” he enthuses. “The engineers and the lighting people are great there, and we’ve built up good relationships. The vibes are always amazing.”
He also has his own wish-list of Dublin venues to play in the future. “The Olympia Theatre (72 Dame Street, D2) gets some amazing artists as well. The 3Arena (North Wall Quay, D1) would obviously be my dream venue to play: it’s incredible. But before I get there, the Olympia is an important milestone to get to. It’s a rite of passage.”
The Academy (57 Middle Abbey Street, D1) is vital to the hip hop scene, with stars like Snoop Dogg, Odd Futures and Azealia Banks having played there – and lots of Ireland’s leading young rappers too.
“I love to go see and shows at The Academy. There’s something about it that attracts really great artists. I’ve gone to a lot of shows there with my friends, to check out the artists coming through.”
Does Jafaris have any other music-heavy hang-outs in Dublin?
“There are some great record shops in Dublin,” he notes. “Tower Records (7 Dawson Street, D1) is an amazing spot. I did my signing there for my album, and played a few songs. Everyone treated us so well.
“For instruments and equipment, Musicmaker (29 Exchequer Street, D2) is the spot. My drummer and my keyboardist go there all the time. There are other music shops around the city, but that’s the best. I went in there recently to get my in-ear monitors, and the staff were really helpful.”
Jafaris is one of an impressive generation of Dublin DJs, rappers and soulsters getting ready to take on the world, with artists and bands as radically different as Reggie Snow, Hare Squead, Soulé, Barq, Kojaque, Versatile and DJ Mona Lisa (previously featured in Best of Dublin) all making a big impression. Despite being involved in the urban scene since he was a teenager, it wasn’t until Jafaris teamed up with Ivan Klucka’s hip hop and R&B-centred production group, Diffusion Lab (12 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, D2), that things took off.
“I met with Diffusion Lab two years ago, when I did a feature with Precious from Super Silly,” he recalls. “A few months later, another friend of mine wanted to record there. That’s when me and the producer started creating a relationship. Then Ivan stumbled upon a show of mine in The Workman’s Club (10 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, D2), and was like, ‘I’m interested’. That’s when this all started to bubble up for me.”
With creative minds and collectives blossoming across Dublin, Jafaris feels that there’s a lot to be proud of in the city.
“Dublin’s music scene is definitely growing and progressing in the right direction,” he says. “Hopefully more and more opportunities will open up to help Irish artists really thrive. I think we’re on the way there.”