Think back to the biggest birthday party you’ve had, or your wedding, Quinceañera, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, whatever—that one moment where all eyes were on you.
Now imagine that moment lasting for an entire musical festival. That wherever you went, people stared at you slack-jawed, pointed at you without abandon, motioned to their friends feverishly, yelled your name when they drove past, took pictures of you or with you, or—my favorite—yelled your own music lyrics back at you, as if perhaps you’d forgotten them.
Welcome to the world of Aron Can.
Seventeen-year-old trap starlet
This behavior sounds pretty normal in regards to global “celebrity” culture, but in Iceland, it’s kind of bizarre. You’ll see Björk around town but people don’t scream her name or hound her for autographs. Folks definitely accost Emmsjé Gauti with, “Bara ég og strákarnir!” or hand unasked-for Havana Club to BlazRoca, but both of them still walk around the Secret Solstice music festival relatively unharmed.
There’s something about Aron though. Maybe it’s his age—he’s a cute seventeen-year-old boy. Or his hair—he’s very stylish. Or just his music—cool but accessible to older audiences. He’s got something.
And Reykjavík is a gossipy town. Even telling my friends I was doing this piece set off a rabble of nonsense. That friend-of-a-friend, “I heard he did this” bullshit. But—unlike with any other Icelandic musician probably ever—no one made fun of him. Everybody loves him. Everybody.
On Saturday at Solstice—the day of his performance—I followed Aron around to get a taste of being a cool teenage rapper. My deduction? Dope, for sure, but overwhelming.
The Aron car
I met Aron in the carpark. He was alone, chilling in a friend’s car. “It’s not mine. I’m, uh, only seventeen so I don’t have my license,” he said sheepishly. I had forgotten how young he was.
(This picture was posed.)
He then asked if I could throw him a hotspot. This was so teenage boy, I fucking loved it. We talked about bullshit for a while—mutual friends, other rappers, partying. I immediately found Aron to be a nice chill kid and maybe because I’m not that much older than he is, he didn’t talk to me like I was a journalist. Of course, maybe he’s way savvier than anyone I’ve ever encountered at getting journalists to like him. He does have millions of hits on Spotify. But anyway, I relaxed. The day wasn’t going to be hella awkward.
Everyone and their moms
The moment we got out of the car, though, the craziness began. Walking towards the entrance, literally everyone in the carpark acknowledged him in some way. Fingers, selfies, phone gestures accompanied by “HRINGI HRINGI HRINGI,” (lyrics from his latest hit song) you name it. Aron played it off like a pro, though. Head nods, smiles, the occasional stop—just enough that so people won’t leave being like, “Fuck that guy.” It’s impressive, really—he got popular so quickly but he’s a natural at dealing with the attention.
Aron doesn’t even acknowledge this until promoted. “Yeah, it is weird,” he told me. “It all just happened really quick. Last year some people knew me, but this year every single kid and their mom wants to talk to me or take a selfie.” He said this not in an I-am-so-popular-and-cool-look-at-me way, but rather in a “Wowee!” kind of tone. You can tell he knows his music is dope, but he’s just sort of happy everyone else thinks so too.
To be honest, I was kind of hoping he’d be a total dick because then I could write the greatest exposé ever. That said, I don’t want to make this too complimentary. The photographer and I decided to stay to the side while he socialised in the crowd so we’d have a better view of people squealing and fanboying, and also like, we’re not Aron’s homies. But he kept wandering away and losing us. I was like, yo bitch we’re writing a fucking feature on you, you can least try and be conscious of our whereabouts man—who do you think you are, Kim Kardashian? I didn’t say that to him, but I am putting it in writing, because although I am not a cool rapper, I am still a human being, you know.
But every time we regrouped, he’d be like “Where’d you guys go?” because he’s not an asshole, he’s just a kid caught up in the overwhelming attention.
Crowdsurfing in sunglasses
It was my first time seeing Aron live, and man, I am not a good enough writer to express how crazy people got. Pushed up to the security fence, undulating in the throng, Solstice-ites looked up in rapture to the young rapper. Aron played off their energy like a seasoned professional—crowdsurfing, running around the stage, getting people to sing along. For the first time, I really got the Aron craze. He converted me. He’s fucking good.
After the show, we talked quickly about the performance. Smiling, a little sweaty, he was in good spirits. “The cool thing about Solstice is that I’m looking into the audience and it’s all my friends or people I know. I look over there and I see a guy I’ve known since I was ten.” He grinned. “That’s the best part of Solstice. It’s just you and your friends. It’s dope.”
I went into this whole article half expecting to deal with a too-cool-for-school Justin Bieber type. I mean, Aron does wear Gucci t-shirts. But really, he’s just a chill kid who happens to be awesome at rapping. He poked fun at me for using 90s Icelandic slang before asking what credit card numbers he was supposed to put into the app to top up his data. He described literally everything I asked him as “dope.” In the car, he constantly changed songs on the stereo before any finished.
But when asked about the future, it’s clear his passion for trap has barely been satiated. “There’s only so much you can do here, in Iceland, and I feel like I’ve done it now.” His voice stays calm but betrays an intuitiveness and self-awareness far beyond his years. He plans on moving to LA soon to try his luck there, and when he talks about this, you can sense that he’s got big dreams that extend far beyond this tiny Atlantic rock. Leaving Solstice, I couldn’t help but think that if anyone could really do it, Aron can.
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