“The psyche of social consciousness, the moral pinnacle of music, the revolution of rhyme, the heart-pumping feminine blood through hip-hop in Ireland”…how could any female not get excited by that description? MissElayneous AKA Elayne Harrington is a young, vibrant rapper from Dublin who happens to be a girl.
In feminist theory, this shouldn’t be a big deal. So what, she’s a girl, girls can do what they want, no biggie! But in reality, rap has always been, and still is, a predominantly male profession and interest – Straight Outta Compton Anyone? Males were there to spit rhymes, females were there to wear little and have good times. MissElayneous isn’t necessarily breaking any barriers, but she is brave and gutsy to do what she’s doing. And what’s that you ask? Well, she’s combining well-written, profound lyrics with funk/rock guitar riffs on a background of Irish trad instruments and modern hip-hop beats to create something really unique, novel and exciting. I for one have never heard anything like it.
On her Bandcamp page – which is well-detailed and respectfully credits all musicians on her songs – ‘Heart Lose Tempo’ is the most recent song she has released. The drum beat is old school, almost Run DMC like, and the guitar has a rock n’ roll feel to it. The saxophone adds a unique, backstreet jazzy vibe that shouldn’t work, but does. The vocals are strong and sassy, but not in a cringe-y way. MissElayneous is more than a novelty, she can actually rap – she has pace, rhythm, and control over her vocals. Lyrics are heartfelt but not soppy or cliché. She is clever with words so that her word play is effortless and almost unnoticeable, like (early) Eminem. The second song on that EP, also available in vinyl which fits in with her retro persona, is ‘Tir na n-Og’; a clear reference to her interest in all things traditionally Irish (she enjoys playing the bodhran at live shows), MissElayneous continues the effortless, spoken word intensity on this track. Instrumentally, the two songs are quite similar, both dense and textured musically, and a little different and more daring than mainstream, formulaic hip-hop.
The second EP available to listen to on her Bandcamp is Big Words. There are five tracks on this, each as experimental as the next. ‘There’s only 1 You’ and ‘Exception to the Rule’ both send the strong message about being true to yourself, and standing up for what you believe in. The strong snare beats, thick guitar layering and distant but effective backing vocals on both tracks act as a perfect foundation for her message. MissElayneous is a girl with something to say, that is something worth listening to. ‘Cailin Rua’ is a short track that references the traditional Irish song of the same name. Adding her own lyrics, the song opens as acapella spoken word adding only intense bodhran beats toward the end, and showcases the performance aspect of MissElayneous. There are four other tracks on her Bandcamp, all definitely worth a listen. This is an artist that needs to be heard, not just read about.
MissElayneous recently graced the Word Tent (twice) at EP 2015, and it’s no wonder people want to see her live. This lady’s energy and intensity were made for a live audience. She is a rapper with a positive message and influence – taking part in local creative writing workshops to help youngsters, and inspire both young men and women to pursue any career or hobby they want, regardless of the norms around it. She’s definitely an artist to try and catch live, as fans eagerly await her next EP release.
Top tracks: Heart Lose Tempo, Exception to the Rule, Step in the Ring