If you’re reading this, chances are you are a visitor to Iceland and, uh, talar ekki Íslensku. While you can totally get around Reykjavík with only góðan daginn and takk fyrir in your Icelandic repertoire, the idea of listening to rap in Icelandic might not seem that great. What are they saying? What do they mean? Well, útlendingur, no worries, because the world of Icelandic hip-hop is easily accessible to a foreign ear. There’s a ton of hip-hop acts playing at Airwaves this year, but we’re going to focus on acts that have never performed at Airwaves before—the newbies. So grab some Stüssy (is that still cool?) and check these guys out.
Without a doubt, the biggest thing to happen to Icelandic hip-hop this year came from a sixteen-year-old named Aron Can. His song “Enginn Mórall,” which vaguely translates to “No Shame,” just blew up. The video, where Aron and his buddies walk through Reykjavík in a purple haze, has 300,000 views on YouTube, which is close to the entire population of Iceland. During the reign of “Enginn Mórall” (which is still going strong), you couldn’t go anywhere downtown without hearing those smooth opening chords. Aron’s music is pretty relaxed. It’s kind of sensual but still danceable—a difficult combination to master, but fokk já, he does it. The beats are kind of sexy, but we at the Grapevine feel weird associating that word with a sixteen-year-old. He’s playing on Thursday at 22:30 at Nasa, and Saturday at 00:40 at Valshöllin.
If you’re looking for something more underground, check out Valby Bræður, who are playing at Húrra on Friday at 2:10. Valby’s got an old school hip-hop vibe, which is fitting considering their newest song “Laidback” is a tribute to Tupac and Biggie. Another song to check out by them is “Svartur á leik.” It’s party rap anthem that will definitely get you turnt (Is that word still cool?). The Valby brothers are also notorious for passing illicit substances that rhyme with pear-a-wanna to their audiences so if you’re 420 friendly, you’ll feel right at home.
A couple acts before Valby is local cool-kitty Alvia Islandia, who brings some much-needed bubbles and spunk to the Airwaves rap lineup. Alvia’s first album ‘Bubblegum Bitch’ dropped a few months ago and it’s just magical. If you don’t know anything about her: first, where have you been? Second: the girl is sponsored by Hubba Bubba, and names her biggest influences as, “the elf side of the moon, bubbly state of mind, wildcats, cozyslide and real stuff all put together in a riddle that sometimes only I can understand.” Fascinated? Captivated? Who wouldn’t be. We know she’ll be on your mind all Airwaves so show up to her show, cheer loudly, dance, and maybe if you’re lucky, she’ll let you join her GumGumClan gengi.
Gísli Pálmi is an Airwaves regular, but this year he isn’t performing under his own name, but rather as Glacier Mafia. Glacier Mafia, for you foreigners, is some sort of art-collective crew associated with Gísli, but we’re not exactly sure who’s in it. We just know we’re not. At the Secret Solstice Glacier Mafia performance, Gísli performed a ton unreleased songs that were A+ incredible. This guy is the king of Icelandic rap and we are just dying to know what he’ll do at Airwaves. Pro Tip: We know you don’t understand Icelandic, but if you guess that Gísli is rapping about drugs and partying 99% of the time, you’ll probably be right.
So whether you are a newbie to Airwaves or a scorched veteran, these are the newest and dopest (are we still saying that?) rap acts you need to check out. And there’s no need to thank us when all your friends think you are super cool and in-the-know. That’s our job.
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Posted October 22, 2016