‘My mam used to play Simon and Garfunkel. That was the best introduction to music’

Dublin rapper Nealo shares his Spotify playlist of favourite tracks

I walk dogs for a living, so from the moment I hop in the car until I go home I listen to music. I used to listen to a lot more podcasts, but at the moment I’m really enjoying music. I’ll make a playlist of all the songs I’m in the mood to listen to, with some classics I always go back to as well.

One of my all-time favourites is Paul Simon. I remember when my mam used to play Simon and Garfunkel in the car all the time when I was a kid. That was the best introduction to music ever. It made me become a lyricist myself.

I was into American pop punk when I was a teenager, and Jimmy Eat World were one of the first bands I got into. I remember going to see them in the Temple Bar Music Centre when I was about 16 and being blown away by music in general. That’s when I had the realisation that people go to concerts and jump around and stage-dive, and that’s what I’d always want to do. I still think their album Bleed American is one of the best records of all time by any band.

Sello is a new discovery and he’s going to be huge. He’s a rapper who released his first track about four months ago. He’s taken drill and grime and made a Dublin version of it – it’s unique to where he’s from in Clondalkin. It’s caused a big wave because nobody has done that before, not in his unique way.


Saint Sister's album Where Should I End is incredible, every single song on it. I don't see anybody that's better than them at writing songs, in Ireland anyway

Kanye West's new album, Donda, is ... not amazing. It's too long and bloated and has a lot of ideas that are not good. But then there are some classic moments. I put Jesus Lord on the playlist because Jay Electronica's verse on that is incredible. Kanye had twentysomething songs to make that album a classic, and Jay Electronica just destroyed him in one verse.

My favourite era of Kanye West is around 808s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He had the best stuff in the middle of his career. I suppose with every artist that becomes successful and rich, it’s hard to stay relatable. How are you supposed to stay relatable when you’re living in mansions surrounded by yes people?

Saint Sister’s album Where Should I End is incredible, every single song on it. I don’t see anybody that’s better than them at writing songs, in Ireland anyway. The lyrics are so relatable too. They’re broad but also they get into the finer details of nights out and relationships with your friends. There’s a real art in that. I could have chosen any song on that record, but Oh My God Oh Canada hit me the hardest. It has this mad, spooky vibe, almost like how Big Thief are spiritual and ethereal.

The Scratch are a band from Perrystown in Dublin that mix trad with rock music. They came out of nowhere, and it’s turned everything upside down musically in Dublin. I lived with the lads for a few years and it’s amazing to be able to see them go from playing in the Cobblestone to selling out the Olympia. Out of all our friends that are in different bands, I thought they could sell out the 3Arena one day, it’s not too far away now.

I have to be in a certain mood to listen to Phoebe Bridgers, because it takes me down a dark hole. Sometimes when you're in those moods it's good to dive into sad music and explore that a little bit, but it can take over your whole day if you're not careful. So I pick my battles with Phoebe Bridgers, only because she's so good at drawing you in to her world.

I’m not crazy huge into Lana Del Rey, but I liked that record she released recently [Chemtrails Over the Country Club]. White Dress in particular is really nice. I used to be a bit biased against her – I looked at the people that were into her and thought, Yeah, it’s probably not for me. But now I think she’s an amazing songwriter. When you get a bit older your tastes change. It’s the same with food: you become less closed-minded and you’re willing to try things that you wouldn’t have previously. It’s a nice way to be, opening yourself up to new experiences.

I’m a big fan of Tyler Childers. I’m mad into country music, which always surprises people, because I make hip hop. They’re not that dissimilar at times. The lyrics for country music are always so simple but so good that it can evoke a lot of emotion. I dream about making a country record. I’ll make that happen one day. I just need to learn the guitar first.

Nealo plays It Takes a Village in Trabolgan, Co Cork (Saturday, September 18th) and Hibernacle: Meet Me at the Castle, Claregalway Castle, Co Galway (Saturday, September 25th, and Sunday, September, 26th)