A NINE-year-old rapper from Dublin has released his first single after signing a record deal with a local label.
Ben Dunne, who raps using the name 'Ben-R', is from Ballyfermot in west Dublin and has already dropped his first single, Top of the Food Chain.
The two-year development deal with Bloodshed Records also includes public promotion and an album.
The young lyricist is set to make a number of public appearances in the coming months, and will even support Grammy-award winning US rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony during their gig here in May.
Ben's mother Lisa Dunne said he became interested in rap music at the age of seven after hearing her listening to Eminem.
He had already developed an interest in writing stories, but quickly turned to rap after listening to the American star and a number of other rap artists.
Ms Dunne told the Herald: "He started writing his own stories in school, and then that escalated into writing songs. He wrote bits and pieces and started putting them together."
When Ben is not at school, Ms Dunne says he is up in his bedroom practising his craft.
"He's always up in his room. He uses a tablet with a rock app which has music in it. He raps along with that," she said.
She said she decided to send a video compilation of some of her son's performances to local veteran rapper Tall-Order (Paul Ritchie), who also runs Bloodshed Records.
Tall-Order, who has been rapping for 12 years, decided to sign Ben shortly before Christmas.
The record label boss said he was extremely impressed. "A lot of Irish artists start a lot older than he has," he said. "I also liked the fact that he used his own accent. A lot of kids here use American accents, but he's using his own.
"My point of view from working with artists in America is that they don't respect you if you try to use their accent. People here seem to think that doing that is the only way to get signed."