Irish artists to look out for: Kevin Smith aka Kojaque

Marianne Foody

Dublin born hip-hop artist. Poet. Filmmaker. Visual artist. Producer. Founder of his own record label Soft Boy Records with friend and co-producer Kean Kavanagh.

Kojaque has got it all going on right now and has grown from strength to strength since the launching of Soft Boy Records back in 2015.

This February saw the release of ‘Deli Daydreams’ which captures a raw and honest look at the average week of a deli worker in Dublin.

The video for ‘Bubby’s Cream’, which was recorded in a Cabra shopping Centre carpark, features Kojaque talking about love and heart break in a desolate setting while reflecting critically on himself,

This approach to hip-hop goes against all the stereotypical misogyny and seemingly emotionless bravado that has come with the genre in the past.

Throughout the video Smith is pictured in a white Soft Boy t-shirt to emphasise that.

The other video that has been released is ‘White Noise’ which was dedicated to Coolock’s Paul Curran – a spoken word artist whose pieces such as ‘Dear James’ inspired Kojaque greatly.

White Noise’ deals with other peoples’ perceptions of us because of where we come from and gets very political in parts when Kojaque mentions ongoing abortion debates in Ireland at the moment, rapping “Sovereign State they’d rather see my mother bleed out than build a clinic/ you leave abortions to the backstreets”.

This is a very powerful piece of music and voices the feeling of injustice felt by many young people in this generation in Ireland.

Smith is a graduate of DIT Dublin School of Creative Arts and winner of the 2017 RHA Graduate Studio Award which gave him access to a studio space for one year.

The winning entry ‘Love in Technicolour’ was displayed at the Visual Arts Awards RDS last October.

It was a short film put to poetry which explored the issues of masculinity, love and identity in a very graphic and true to life format wherein Smith was pictured downing cans of lager alone until he vomited, shaving his head bald and drawing a smile on his saddened face in the mirror with his beloved’s red lipstick.

It portrayed the fragility of young men who may feel socially obliged to act in a macho fashion and feel like they have nobody to turn to in times of heartbreak or struggle.

Kojaque’s take on hip-hop is fresh, honest, and conceptual, taking inspiration from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and DanielOG.

This humble young man from Cabra has said it feels “very odd” to see people now wearing the Soft Boy merchandise as this all started with “a few friends who had similar tastes and talents” including Sam Smyth who shoots many of Kojaques music videos.

Kojaque has been announced for Indiependence this summer and after just finishing up his Deli Daydreams tour with a sold-out gig in Button Factory Dublin on March 28th, there’s no doubt that there are amazing things in store for this Soft Boy.