A self-proclaimed “1000-year-old poet channelling through the body of a young man from Limerick,” Strange Boy (FKA Jonen Dekay) is well and truly a rapper on a mission. Having paired up with Rusangano Family and Naive Ted on his acclaimed 2016 mixtape, Passionate Example, he has since signed with Berlin-based label Welcome To The New World and collaborated with PX Music, as well as Hazey Haze, Citrus Fresh, GavinDaVinci, among others.
It’s a forward-moving trajectory that’s been racing head long in one direction: the release of his debut album, HOLY / UNHOLY, in the summer. Working alongside producer Enda Gallery, it’s certain to lay bare Strange Boy’s singular nuance and flair in melding the worlds of hip hop and Irish traditional music and cultural touchstones but old and fiercely new.
The album’s lead single, ‘Waiting’ is a powerfully candid effort, in which the rapper delves deep into the dense thicket of becoming, belonging and what it means to “pray for better times”.
Speaking about the track, Strange Boy said, “I’ve lots of memories of growing up in Limerick, good and bad. With ‘Waiting’ I wanted to put into perspective how my hometown shaped my personality.” Producer Enda Gallery added, “It breaks my heart open to hear it. Every time. I feel like we are witnessing one of the all-time greats.”
A wonderfully understated accompaniment, Shane Serrano’s video in 2.35:1 taps into a certain golden hour limbo that more than seals the deal.
Ahead of its release on Friday (April 16) have a first look and listen below.