The number of names putting out rap and hip hop music in Ireland has been growing and growing. The talents of African made, London raised, Belfast rapped Leo Miyagee has pushed him towards the forefront of this emerging corner of Northern Irish music. Pored over production and Miyagee’s vocal sensibilities are unique, appearing across a handful of releases in the past two years.
Miyagee has just returned with new release Act 2: B.I.G. Walk so we asked him to break down the influences behind his sound.
Outkast – A Life In The Day of Benjamin André
This track speaks to me because it feels like it’s all about humanising the artist, showing how despite public perception an artist could be dealing with and feeling the same things as everyone else. Plus the skill level on show is second to none.
Notorious B.I.G – The What
Not only are the sonics on point but this track is so unapologetically black and also embodies the hustler’s mentality of just working hard at whatever it is you want to achieve! This song has a massive influence on what I believe it means to be a rapper today.
Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues Make (Me Wanna Holler)
This is to me one of the greatest songs in history, from the subject matter to the soulful delivery, of just being able to feel what he’s saying not just hearing it. This has been a constant and I heard this song through my family even before I started rapping. Arguably my biggest musical influence to date along with the next track I’ll mention.
Kendrick Lamar – You Ain’t Gotta Lie
This one is also arguably my biggest influence, I alternate between this and Inner City Blues, it is a constant reminder in both life and art of the importance of being a grounded, well rounded person.
Tupac – Keep Ya Head Up
Tupac is like the big brother I never had, his music and this song taught me so much and touches on so many subjects that might be even more relevant in today’s society than ever!
Mick Jenkins – Strange Love
His soulful voice, energy and style is iconic. Plus there’s a lot of substance there, a lot of which is very uplifting for a person of colour.
Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal
This is legendary and I would run to the TV as soon as it played. MJ inspired everyone and, I’m not alone in saying this, set the bar for me from no age. From the song to the video, to the live performance!
No Bizzi – Yeah Yeah Ft. J2K
This was one of my original influences and massively influenced my style, the in your face attitude of the beat, delivery and lyrics left a huge impression on me and not only that, I heard this track on FIFA Street 2 and I loved FIFA Street, I absolutely rinsed.
Kanye West – Champion
This to me, is the perfect hip hop track, the energy, the rawness of the singing just makes this ballad timeless to me.
Jay Electronica – Exhibit C
It’s a travesty to me that Jay Electronica’s old work hasn’t blown up and gone absolutely supernova, even if his first official studio album was lacklustre, his early stuff is solid evidence of why people once saw him as the saviour of hip hop.