There was a strange nostalgic scent in the air as girls dressed appropriately and guys had done their best to imitate the style of hip-hop. It was apparent from everything that rap and hip-hop are a thing of the past when it comes to fashion. The only guys who dressed the part properly were Dóri DNA and Bent and other local rappers who try to keep the dream of a Hip-Hop Ísland alive. Otherwise, baggy pants were only semi-baggy and baseball caps, well, aren’t cool anymore.
Dóri DNA was first onstage and proved that there was life in Icelandic rap with rhymes that were both sharp and relevant. He wasn’t as strong when he diverged, briefly, into R&B, but got through the night with a closer backed by electronic funk band Nortón.
Next up were Bent and 7berg; they delivered an impressive performance. They both looked good and probably had something to do with the magnitude of attractive young women in the audience that night.
The place was packed when Brother Ali stepped onstage. I was expecting a tall black man. What I got was an albino, a cross between Silas from the Da Vinci Code and Dumbo. Brother Ali was very good when I closed my eyes, and the crowd was feeling it, but when I opened my eyes I saw a goofy looking white guy, slightly overweight, with ears that could belong to the deaf girl that starred in What the Bleep Do We Know? and Children of a Lesser God. Of course, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but on that evening I did. Just a little.
My friend told me Brother Ali was a black albino, which just confused me for a while. The high point of his show was when he did an a cappella slam. I got goose bumps. More impressive than the performance was the attitude as he sang. He snapped at some fans that tried to clap over his emotional performance. He said “don’t clap” once and they kept clapping. He said it a second time. Then the third time he made sure everybody knew that clapping was not appropriate during his emotional slam. His eyes and face started to get red. And then, as I saw it, he turned into a dragon and screamed out. “No clapping!”
I think he made one grown man cry.
Brother Ali was good, but good doesn’t sell records. If 2Pac had just been good he’d still be selling rocks; the same goes for Snoop. In hip-hop, excellence is required.
After the average albino I was sure I’d see the black artist Atmosphere. At first sight, I would, again, be disappointed. Atmosphere looked Latino but when he started to rap all thoughts of race or looks vanished.
His delivery was amazing and the crowd was eating it up. A packed place jumped, clapped, sang and did everything they were commanded to do. We got respect from the MC. Atmosphere said that this was his second time doing a show in Iceland. The first time was like making out. Now he was ready to fuck. He ended up doing requests he usually doesn’t sing, but, as he put it, “We often say that this is the best crowd we’ve had, but now we mean it.” It felt genuine at the time.
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