The only disappointment of the evening was Geno Sydal, whose laid-back style could not make the transition to the fist-pumping persona he took on for the show. Amiable and likeable as Geno is, the eighth time he said “Iceland put your fucking hands up” it became apparent that the country simply wasn’t interested in putting its hands up.
That said, Geno Sydal had a saving grace; guest Huxin who took over one song with a dazzling burst of rhymes spit so fast I thought teeth might shoot across the stage. The experience was something like listening to Eminem’s sections on the horrid D12 tracks.
XXX Rottweiler stormed the stage next, opening strong with the other strong guest MC of the evening, Dóri DNA. One Rottweiler song can be a beautiful thing, especially following what it followed. The problem was that two and three Rottweiler songs in a row loses its charm. While the band has obvious charisma, their beats are too monotonous, and the rhythms almost become draining. The solution is to add a bit more flow, as Dóri provided on a few songs.
Rottweiler was responsible for one of the more surreal moments of the night – when Ben stripped to an undershirt a la 50 Cent and revealed a surprising build. The unusual bulk made him look exactly like Russian gymnast Aleksei Nemov – not quite the street cred he may have been looking for, but worth commending.
Rapper MC Tiny of Quarashi followed suit, also stripping to a muscle shirt, taking the evening one step further into Dali does hip hop. Tiny, who bears a passing resemblance to Michael J. Fox in his Family Ties years, definitely has talent. The complaint that he sounds like Slim Shady can’t be considered too much of a pejorative. Sölvi, Quarashi’s songwriter and producer, looked like a star as well, as his band’s live sound had the highest production quality, but had an embarrassing angle from which to enjoy his success, perched at a poorly mic’d drum set and playing along with canned music.
This is what local live hip hop is sorely lacking – variation of beats and, well, music.
Finally, 50 Cent took the stage. This was preceded by twenty minutes of the punctuated screams of “it’s him” every time a black man stepped on stage. No matter how different that black man looked from 50 Cent, a portion of the audience was sure it was 50 Cent.
When 50 actually did step forward, he looked like he does in the videos… only slightly bigger. He looked intimidating enough that, though his pitch was flat and his flow often just behind the beat, well, nobody in the audience was going to say anything.
The most bizarre irony of the evening was simply the bill: 50 Cent is the least talented rapper to come out of America since P Diddy. He is notable only because of his street credibility – because he was shot nine times and because he is, quite obviously, “hard.” This is the one thing Icelandic rap can’t be. Just by being born in the country with one of the highest standards of living in the country, Icelanders lose their street cred… but why are they looking for it anyway? The freestyle community is developing the skills of the young MCs. In 101, musicians have shown particular skill in creating club friendly electronic and ambient music – why the hell haven’t they combined?