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THAT’S A RAP Dublin rapper JyellowL reveals he wasn't always 'allowed to feel Irish'

'How can you claim to be from Dublin and sound like I do? That is the kind of question I would get asked, but hopefully people understand how much I love Ireland and how I feel a part of this country'

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JyellowL has called Ireland home since he was a young teenager.

JyellowL has called Ireland home since he was a young teenager.

JyellowL has called Ireland home since he was a young teenager.

Not many students leave UCD with a degree in politics to follow their dream of becoming a rap musician, but JyellowL has never followed convention.

Born Jean-Luc Adenrele Ibrahim Koko Uddoh in Nigeria, 'J' has called Dublin home throughout his teenage years and very much considers himself to be Irish. Yet in an exclusive interview with Magazine+, the affable musician admits acceptance both as an Irish person and musician has not always come easily.

"I always wanted to be Irish from the start, but it wasn't always the case that I was allowed to feel that way," he tells us as he promotes Virgin Media's 'Up Your Speed Game' 1Gig broadband campaign.

"There were times when I was reminded that I wasn't really Irish and that was the constant identity crisis I faced. I felt part of Irish culture in many ways and there were parts that I didn't feel a part of. So does that mean I'm not authentic Irish?

"Then I came to the conclusion that being Irish for me might not necessarily mean the same as it does for everyone.

"I grew up here, my family is here and my experience of growing up in Ireland is just as authentic as anyone else.

"Growing up there was some battling to be Irish. I wanted to stay true to my roots and also experience this new culture that I have immersed myself in.

"If you don't have the Irish accent or you are a bit different to other people, sometimes you are not accepted.

"How can you claim to be from Dublin and sound like I do? That is the kind of question I would get asked, but hopefully [people] understand how much I love Ireland and how I feel a part of this country."

There is a Dublin twang when JyellowL speaks and he has blazed a trail as one of the breakthrough hip hop artists to emerge from this country in recent years.

His success in landing a track on the FIFA 2020 game gave him huge exposure to a wide audience, but he admits opening doors in Ireland to rap music has not always been easy.

"When I was trying to get important people in Ireland to listen to my music, it was an uphill battle," he says.

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"Most people don't believe there is an association with Irishness and rap or hip hop, but things are changing.

"The hip hop scene is getting a lot of attention in Ireland now and people are a lot more open-minded about the idea of hearing Irish rap."

Inspired by Femi Kuti, Bob Marley and 2Pac, he admits he was also a fan of Westlife when he was growing up in Dublin.

"I loved Westlife when I was a kid," he says with a smile. "I grew up listening to them because my gran is a big Westlife fan.

"Another Irish artist I love is Gavin James. He is an amazing singer and he puts so much emotion into every song and it's amazing to watch him.

"Some people just have this quality that is hard to explain and not many people get it, but Gavin James has that and I love his music."

JyellowL dreams of collaborating with U2 frontman Bono, even though he admits he needs to grow as an artist before he gets his attention.

Yet having already achieved so much in an industry that saw him as an outsider when he set out on his road to stardom, there is no reason for this charming young man to dilute his dreams.

JyellowL is working with Virgin Media to promote their 'Up Your Speed Game' 1Gig broadband campaign and has written a track to tell how he can stream more, game faster and keep up to date with all his playlists with 1G from Virgin Media. See virginmedia.ie

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