Top 10 Norwegian hip-hop releases of 2011
2011 was a good year for Norwegian hiphop on many levels. In the mainstream, acts like Lars Vaular, Karpe Diem and Erik&Kriss continued to dominate the Norwegian rap charts -each with their respective styles of music. Karpe Diem was particularly well-received last year, showing how important their music was during a gripping concert for the official memorial service in Oslo Cathedral -8 days after the tragic Utøya terrorist attack.
A nation in sorrow collectively responded asking for more peace and democracy to the sound of Karpe Diem’s Byduer i Dur.
Where Norway’s underground hip-hop movement is concerned – there’s always a lot of movement. Most notably in 2011 was the rise of the Norwegian battle scene. Nils m/ Skils, Norway’s undisputed battle champion, created an international buzz – establishing the Norwegian battle league Skeez Tv, and introducing an English element to the lyrical content.
Rapper Jae R was inspired by the 2011 BET’s (Black Entertainment Television) Cypher series/segments and created the National Cypher – another battle series that became widely popular in 2011 showcasing upcoming rap stars like Dreamon, Envy and LidoLido.
National Cypher part 3 (The Newcomers: LidoLido, Dreamon, ENVY, Phil T. Rich, Lars Rubix)
Thus far, 2012 looks really promising for Norwegian hip-hop. In January, LidoLido released his newest album called Pretty Girls and Grey Sweathers. The album promotes his Good Guy movement, which World Hip Hop Market wrote about last October. (Read the Wordhiphopmarket.com interview with LidoLido here.)
Other artists and producers to look out for in 2012 are far too numerous to mention, but there are some names that are destined to take it to the next level. One rap group A-Laget created quite a buzz on the Norwegian scene last year, and now that they’ve linked up with the producer team Tailors, look to see them blow up on a larger scale this year.
Dreamon, one of the hardest working artists in the industry, is making big moves in 2012 and should be rewarded with international visibility if he plays his cards right. This is also the case with the group Envy and the producer Nasty Kutt, two hip-hop tastemakers that have high production standards and professional work ethics as well.
These are my 10 top Norwegian hip-hop releases for 2011
1. Vaagsbygd Handy – Undervannsmusikk
(Vaagsbygd Handy Records)
This album was released at the turn of 2010/11. It ranks as the best Norwegian hip-hop album of the year. Labeled as the first grime album in Norwegian music, Vaagsbygd Handy has already created history with this unique release. Pete Shinobi and Tor Even Terror spit clever metaphors with impressive and intricate rhyme schemes about abstract science-fiction inspired themes. Unfortunately, this release was mainly overlooked. In retrospect, the album is innovative and accomplished. Instant classic.
Best Track: Fatwa (Prod by Skeamz)
Music Video: Vaagsbygd Handy – Vaagsbygd Story (2012)
2. Jonas V – 21 Gram
Probably the smoothest album released in 2011. Jonas V has a laid back flow over suitable beats, mainly with a west coast/southern rap feel. Entirely crafted by the skilled producer Hkon. It feels authentic when Jonas V spits about recreational drug use and personal stories, while representing the influential rap capital of Norway; Bergen. The combination Jonas V & Hkon is definitely the perfect match, as 21 Grams sounds really fresh and timeless at the same time.
Best Track: Sitter Så Lavt (prod by Hkon)
3.Degos- El Mixtape 2003
Degos represent the voice of the grimy parts of Oslo where graffiti, getting drunk and smoking marijuana serve as the key ingredients for day-to-day life. El Mixtape 2003 compiles 8-years of Chino’s and Fela’s work. Even though the tape describes the downsides of an anti-establishment lifestyle, it manages to voice the positive elements in a community with a strong social codex and a desire to keep it street real
Best track: Shisko Spliff feat Shisko (Prod. Soulshock)
4. Bad Spit – Arkana
Probably one of the most important rappers in Norway to date, Bad Spit with his critical pen, has during a 10 year career, released conceptual albums and mixtapes focusing on alternative reality and insightful criticism of the ruling structures in society. Arkana goes further than the average conspiracy theorist and Bad Spit delivers one his most focused works yet, touching upon subjects rarely heard and discussed in mainstream media.
Best track: Magonia
Music Video: Bad Spit – Møte med en Djevel
5. Lars Vaular- Du Betyr Meg
Lars Vaular is regarded as one of the best artists in Norway regardless of genre, and his 4th solo album Du Betyr Meg is his best work to date. As a risk taker, he is not afraid of breaking boundaries with his music. Lars Vaular always suprises and creates enthusiasm with the crowd as well as the critics. Working closely with producer Anand Chetty and Thomas Eriksen they are perfecting an ever-evolving sound which suits Lars Vaulars’ thoughtful and intricate lyrics.
Best Track: I Min Leilighet feat OnklP, Vågard & Flex
Official music Video: Lars Vaular – Aldri for pen for punk
6. Pats One – DFSFS Vol 1
The title DFSFS Vol 1 translates as Your Favoritesuperhero`s Favorite villain Vol. 1 and Pats One shows strength as a lyricist in this production, which also includes talented rappers like Action Man, Erik de Torres and Gimmik. Dope beats, mainly produced by Marshtini & FredFades suit Pats One`s style of rapping perfectly as the rapper/battler spits his aggressive bars. DFSFS Vol 1 varies on a range of conceptual topics as the title suggests, and is creative and solid. There are no weak tracks on this mixtape.
Best Track: Animerte Bevegelser feat Gimmik (Prod by Deckdaddy & FredFades)
Video: Pats One – Animerte Bevegelser feat. Gimmik (Prod. Deckdaddy & FredFades)
7. DRM – ÆØÅ
True to their core hip hop roots, DRM released their debut ÆØÅ and impressed audiences with lyrics and production designated for real hip-hop heads. Ormstunge, Phreske Phred & Ole O, all veterans in the game complement each other as a trio, creating tracks anchored in a traditional hip-hop sound. Undeservedly, the album was mostly ignored in the press. At the time of the release, the hype-machine was focusing on the ultra-commercial elements of Norwegian hip hop.
Best Track: Ruttinert feat Jester, Nils m/ skils & Thorstein Hyl III (Prod. Remy)
8. Son of Light – War On The Words
14-years is a really long period in hip-hop, but Son of Light did spend his time wisely perfecting his War on the Words. As with his classic debut LP Deep Green, the album is produced by the notorious beatmaker and icon Tommy Tee. The album balances between the playful and the aggressive as Son of Light spits his intriguing lyrical content.
Best Track: The End Is the Beginning (Prod. Tommy Tee)
Music Video:Son of Light feat Son Tzu – Heavy On Me
9. Palabras – Spanglish for Dummies
Great conceptual mixtape by Palabras, packed with a range of talented local guest artists and international artists. Palabras definitively shines as a gifted rapper on this production. Mixing the Norwegian, English and Spanish languages, this tape should potentially receive a lot of attention abroad. The production quality is great, and a producer like Sino proves his skills with great beats.
Best Track: Im the Future feat El Da Sensei & Idd Aziz (prod Sino)
10. Definite, Conurbia & Evig Poesi – Verdens Ende (EP)
This long-awaited tape is a result of several years collaboration. Describing themselves as “everyday philosophers”, the tape is full of self-reflecting lyrics over a low-key production. Verdens Ende is far from trendy, but definitively sounds great and serves as a refreshing element in the Norwegian hip-hop scene.
Best Track: Djevelen I Detaljene (Prod. Andrè Jensen)
Music Video: Djevelen I Detaljene