For Fans Of: Rejjie Snow, Chance The Rapper, Jay Prince
Hip hop collective Hare Squead are the pioneers of proving the diversity of Dublin’s music scene.
Forming in 2014, 2019 was the year the now-duo are making their comeback after their incredibly successful formative years. Once a trio made up of self-taught multi-instrumentalist and producer Lilo Blues, poet Tony Konstone and singer Jessy Rose, Hare Squead fought long and hard to show that Ireland is more than just Ed Sheeran’s stereotypes, and that the culture and music is as diverse as ever. Producing a contemporary fusion of trap, rap, R&B, pop, jazz, gospel and electronics, they became the forefront of their local hip-hop uprising, but they didn’t stop there.
The then-three-piece chose their name in tribute to the fact they all had high-top fades (or “square heads”) when they first met, having no idea that this would soon be the moniker on every major labels lips. Their single ‘If I Ask’, an upbeat R&B hit, immediately put them on the map and they were soon touring with Dua Lipa, Joey Bada$$ and the legendary Nas, as well as making festival appearances. Soon they were inundated with label interest and eventually signed to Columbia Records.
They then dropped their Supernormal EP in 2016. The standout single off the EP, ‘Herside Story’, quickly became a favourite, which led to US rapper Goldlink including a remix of the group’s song on his At What Cost album in 2017. Combined, ‘Herside Story’ has amassed over 60 million streams on Spotify to-date. Also in 2017, the group released two acclaimed singles ‘Flowers’ and ‘Pure’, which earned more than 7 million combined streams on Spotify alone.
However, you often can’t experience the good without the bad, and Hare Squead had this in the plenty. Rose began suffering with his mental health, and unfortunately had to step down. The group made the decision to put their musical endeavours on hold and left their label. Blues stated “It was a lot of things going on internally, serious issues at that. […] We pray for his well-being everyday and we go see him a lot. It’s so unfortunate but it’s life and it could have been anybody. It’s a very serious and delicate situation.”
In time though, Blues and Konstone felt ready to face music again. Speaking of their return, Blues said “I know that there was this magic there with the three of us and I know that there’s magic here with just the two of us.” In February last year, Hare Squead made their return with ‘100 Miles’, a bubbly, guitar-driven single that was inspired by the emotional vulnerability of Aretha Franklin’s ‘I Say a Little Prayer’. Despite their 18-month hiatus, they were met with a warm welcome back. They’ve since released three singles: spicy Afrobeat summer anthem ‘Petty’ feat. Shauna Shadae and Wusu, mental health preach featuring organ melodies ‘Meeting With Myself’ feat. Jay Prince, and brooding trap track ‘Minor Gangsters’ feat. Gully.
The latter track, released last week, follows their surprise encounter with Rory Stewart, an independent candidate running for Mayor of London later this year. While walking down London’s Brick Lane in October, Hare Squead and friends were caught off-guard by the politician who asked them for a filmed interview. Unaware of the interview’s purpose, they said yes but quickly responded with “I don’t f**k with politics” and politely walked away when their views were questioned. The clip went viral on Stewart’s Twitter, and at an event promoting his use of social media during the campaign, he said “One thing about social media is that it allows people to see politicians listening […] I can go to Brick Lane and three sort of minor gangsters can come up to me and spend a minute telling me I’m an idiot. And I can film it on my phone and put it up. And people love watching people being rude to politicians.”
This lead to immediate backlash for him as he was labelled a racist for referring to a group of black men and “minor gangsters”, and the duo fought back, living up to such assumptions with their tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but also bringing in home truths with lines like “I don’t take advice from a n*****, they tried to bleep me, I say it how I like it, problem in the industry, Can’t commercialise a n***** really in the in the street”
In their comeback, Hare Squead have shown they’re stronger than ever, to the point where they can even poke at stereotypes placed upon them. Whatever’s next for the pair, they’ll be sure to shake things up and exceed any expectations.
Facebook – /HareSquead
Instagram – @haresquead