The Róg Poets are an up and coming hip-hop group hailing from South Dublin. Their unique sounds and smooth rhymes reflect the versatility of the growing Irish hip-hop scene. The group is comprised of Mory, Johnny Welfare, Baz Greko and Smokey, who all met through the creative music production course in Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT).
What’s different about the Róg Poets? Well, aside from the band, they each have their own individual musical careers which has contributed to a high production quality in their work and a well-versed knowledge of the elements involved in music making from the beginning.
Mory began his craft by writing and producing rap music at the age of just 12. By 14, he had realised his creative flare and began recording his tracks in his old drum teacher’s basement. Since then he has been growing and developing his signature style.
Smokey started rapping at the age of 14 as a way of doing something positive with something he loved. He immersed himself with heavy influences from the classical hip-hop origins and has developed a sharp yet refreshing storytelling flow through his years of recording.
Johnny Welfare began his music journey from learning to play guitar when he was 14. He developed a keen interest in the production side of music and realised early on that the tools available on a computer meant he had a full orchestra at his disposal. With this new freedom to create, he didn’t have to rely on anybody. Through years of producing techno tracks, he naturally transitioned into making hip hop beats. His in-depth knowledge of production is evident in listening to any of the Róg Poet tracks.
Bazi Greko being half Irish and Greek, attributes his background to his refined and timeless taste in music. He, like the rest of the group, listened to hip-hop from a young age and was consumed by original hip-hop. He was recording lyrics on his phone when he was younger and showing them to his friends, who encouraged him to put himself out there.
I was lucky enough to sit down with the group and talk shop. When Mory was asked about their formation, it was clear that it was a very natural process.
“It wasn’t that we sat down one day and decided to make music together, we are all rappers and producers who were in the same course so it was an organic shift, we were always hanging out, when musical people hang out they tend to get musical. “ It became more serious when Bazi got a new gaff in Deansgrange, we just kept meeting up and making music.”
In terms of putting the Róg Poets out there to get traction and new listeners, the group is more concerned with their own development and prefer to take a more calculated approach rather than exhausting their fans with token social media updates.
“In all they have played 10 live gigs in various venues like The Grand Social, The Bernard Shaw, Wigwam, Soundhouse, and The Lighthouse“
“We rely on three things mainly to get across to people, one is social media, although we are not as active as we should be, we’re on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify. The second way which we have found seriously effective, is to get out there and perform as many gigs as possible, the old school way. Thirdly is word of mouth, we all have our individual organic reaches as each of us has various other projects we are working on, so there’s been a natural traction as we do our thing. We run some adverts too although the adverts only give the listener a small taste of our sound and if they like it they click in and listen to us. This is important to us, as the figures of our listenership aren’t fabricated or bought.”
The Róg Poets released an album called the Róg Tapes, Vol. 1 in 2018 consisting of 5 tracks each having its own vibrant attraction. In 2019, they released a single called Checkmate which, in usual fashion, saw each rapper take the track verse by verse. The rap itself is centred around attacking fake artists who are concerned with vanity and their Instagram profiles. This is important, as for the Róg Poets, they focus on integrity, respect and the love for the music. Johnny Welfare, their instrumental producer, affirmed that it’s all about the music.
“We were caught up in the numbers for a bit but I think as it’s coming along, we’re definitely more focused on the music. People trust us, in that the music we realise is different and creative – at the end of the day not everybody will like it, that’s life. If your making music to cater to other people rather than yourself then you’re already losing.”
The future seems promising for this young group of motivated artists as they continue to get out and perform as much as possible. In all they have played 10 live gigs in various venues like The Grand Social, The Bernard Shaw, Wigwam, Soundhouse, and The Lighthouse. The challenges for any up and coming group are never easy, although the Róg Poets are definitely a group to look out for in the future.
The first link below will bring you to their 2019 checkmate single on YouTube and the other links are for their Spotify, Instagram and YouTube social media pages where you can follow them.