Photo: Kiki @ On-U
MC Ri-Ra is a prolific MC from Ireland; a wordsmith who does not need to rap like he is from the USA to get his point across. Ri-Ra is 100% Irish culture, and the fact he rhymes over beats also makes him a part of hip-hop culture, but there is a lot more to him than the scenes to which he is affiliated.
Ri-Ra has been down for the crown since the 1980s, back when he was part of the legendary Scary Eire crew. Rising to prominence in the early 1990s with their live shows, Scary Eire comprised of Sloosh, Ri-Ra, Mek and Mr. Brown - the original Irish B-boys.
Together they had a raw talent that got them noticed by James Lavelle, who asked them to sign to Mo'Wax back in the mid 1990s - but they said no. The 'Global Hip Hop' release on Tommy Boy in 1993/4, showcasing the best in hip-hop from around the globe, earned them superstar status. Warming up for U2 at their Zooropa tour in The RDS, Scary Eire were one of the hottest properties on the Irish music scene. Around the mid 90s, all members went their separate ways for various reasons. Ri-Ra continuing to pursue the craft of MC-ing.
Ri-Ra has a list of admirers ranging from Sinéad O'Connor and Damien Dempsey to the likes of Shane MacGowan and many more. His lyrics transcend boundaries and can be related-to by people in all walks of life. Surely this is the quality we look for in an MC, not fabricated stunts, image, sponsorship deals and endorsements.
Ri-Ra's other supporters include Adrian Sherwood and Ghetto Priest, themselves having also worked extensively with Sinéad O'Connor since the late 1990s. Significant contributions by Ri-Ra to Ghetto Priest's 2003 'Vulture Culture' album (ON-U CD1003) resulted, together with mixes provided by Sherwood for Ri-Ra's own 'Front Bar' and '25 O'Clock In The Morning' singles, the latter being released in the same year on Dublin's All City Records.
In the way things sometimes go at On-U Sound, the collaboration period soon faded out, but as far as we know, Ri-Ra is still out there standing before a crowd saying it right and telling it true.
(Adapted and supplemented from a short biography once found at www.choicecutsonline.com)