A Grapevine service announcement LOOK BUSY! Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Afternoon Edition
Culture
Music
ANTLEW AND MAXIMUM: Predecessors of Icelandic Hip-Hop

ANTLEW AND MAXIMUM: Predecessors of Icelandic Hip-Hop

Published December 3, 2004

Before Hæsta Hendin, before XXX Rottweilarhundar, even before Quarashi, there was an Icelandic kid living in Sweden who heard hip-hop for the first time and inadvertently became the predecessor of them all.

Having become a producer by the age of 12, Maximum returned to Iceland and joined forces with Brooklyn-born Antlew to form his own hip-hop outfit in 1997. Although largely unknown to the rest of the country until 1999, their music would become the inspiration for nearly every hip-hop act that followed them.

Antlew and Maximum write songs in English, saying that “Icelandic doesn’t flow too good, but when it’s good, it’s good. Forgotten Lores is a good example.” The songs themselves, they say, are trying to reach into something outside of the typical subject matter of most Icelandic hip-hop material.

“Most of the time you hear something like, ‘Your mama’s fat’ or some other stupid insults,” says Maximum. “We’re trying to do something a bit more meaningful.” Antlew agrees and adds, “We want to produce something that would touch someone’s soul. Not that we don’t do funny songs; we do. We’re not trying to be like teachers or something. We just want to make good music.”
While working on numerous side projects with other musicians in Iceland, Sweden and England both inside and outside of hip-hop, Maximum and Antlew are still focussed on trying to change the Icelandic hip-hop scene for the better.

“The radio DJs play stuff like ‘All I wanna do is hit the pussy’ because their listeners are 15 or younger,” says Antlew, who for a time ran his own hip-hop program on Icelandic radio but was dismissed because the show was entirely in English. “But I think these same kids would like our material. For example, we have a song called ‘Ég Skil,’ which is about how a ghetto is a ghetto no matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about Brooklyn or Reykjavík; there are always going to be these beat-down neighbourhoods.”

Apart from the approach to hip-hop that the duo is taking (and the thankful inclusion of a lyric sheet), they also want to be sure that the hip hop scene in Iceland doesn’t mimic the US.

“Clubs in the US used to play music passed between artists and listeners,” says Antlew, “but today they just play radio stuff. Clubs in Iceland are starting to head in that direction. If Icelandic clubs start ignoring good musicians who don’t get radio play, what then?”



Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Seven Icelandic Elf Songs

by and

“Álfareiðin” (“The Elf Ride”) “Álfareiðin” is one of Iceland’s most beloved elf-themed songs, and is sung by a bonfire every year at Þrettándinn (“the Twelfth Night”—celebrated by Icelanders every January 6). The song is actually not Icelandic at all: the lyrics are a translation, by fabled Icelandic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, of a Heinrich Heine poem, and the song is by German composer H. Heide. Regardless, it is by now an indispensable part of Icelanders’ cultural heritage. “Starálfur”—Sigur Rós Apparently, there are certain elements to Sigur Rós’ music that tend to make their listeners associate the band with elves and Hidden

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Neutral Milk Hotel Made Me Who I Am

by

You are born. Not until a couple years later do you start to become a person, in the most rudimentary sense. It’s still not for quite a few years that you start to become your own person. Or perhaps it starts off okay, but as soon as you begin examining the world beyond yourself and your family, society’s homogenizing forces take hold of you. You don’t stand a chance. Culture is monopolized. When I was growing up in southern California in the ‘90s, the musical landscape, as I remember it, consisted almost entirely of pop punk, ska punk, and whatever

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Free Track: Prins Póló’s “París Norðursins”

by and

You won’t find Prins Póló’s unexpected summer hit “París norðursins” (“Paris Of The North”) on the act’s recent LP ‘Sorrí’ (‘Sorry’). Written and recorded specifically for the purpose, the song features in a highly anticipated film of the same name, which hits theatres in early September and should be pretty great if the Prince’s contribution is anything to go by. The track’s steadily humming, upbeat bass line is accompanied with occasional keys and distorted guitar segments, all wrapped up in a fun and danceable package. Hiding behind that cheerful façade are lyrics that explore a recurring bitter theme in Icelandic

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Parties Of The North

by and

Following a tremendously successful All Tomorrow’s Parties festival (ATP), the organisers have announced the headliner for next year’s fest, indie stalwarts Belle and Sebastian. We were lucky enough to see them the last time they visited Iceland, when they rocked the packed NASA venue in 2006, and can’t wait to see them again in the unique setting at Ásbrú. ATP is one of the best new phenomena to grace our musical horizon in quite some time. The abandoned military base is a perfectly outlandish setting for a festival that focuses on diverse alternative music. The execution of the festival was

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Straumur: Best Of Music

by and

Best album: GusGus’s ‘Mexico’ The greats of Icelandic dance music, GusGus, have yet to slip up in their almost two decade long career and they certainly don’t do so on their latest album, ‘Mexico.’ They continue to explore the sonic terrain of their last album, ‘Arabian Horse,’ a sound that is not in any way minimal, but extremely economical. But that would be for nothing if it weren’t for the melodies and singers. Vocalist Daníel Ágúst has particularly outstanding performances in “Crossfade” and “Sustain” and former member Urður Hákonardóttir shines on standout track, “Another Life.” But they also hark back

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Northern Edge Of The Scene

by

If you were to read about Icelandic music in the press, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that all we listen to up here all day is a continuous loop of FM Belfast, Ásgeir, and Sigúr Rós, while employing secret cloning technology to keep our cultural industries stuffed full of post-rock non-entities and ethereal pop ninnies that sport woollen ponchos, face paint, and feather headdresses. Frankly that sort of stuff would send a sane person round the bend. Oh, but reader there are much wilder sounds on this Island if you know where to look! From black metal, to feminist

Show Me More!