From Iceland — Batterííð - Wednesday

Batterííð – Wednesday

Published October 15, 2009

Word. Or whatever. Batteríið was the place to be for hiphop fans
(particularly Icelandic hiphop) on the opening night of Airwaves,
boasting a full line up of local street poets. The night started
somewhat inauspiciously with the cancellation of Poetrix‘s set,
disappointing any fans of the well-known Reykjavík rapper who might
have come to hear him. However, the chances of that happening were
slim, as there were only about ten people in the bar to begin with.
Next up was Ramses (supported by a number of ‘Kópavogur playaz’
in the audience,  apparently), who impressively managed to get exactly
five people (still about half of everyone there) cutting mean shapes on
the dance floor to his bass heavy beats and sex/drugs/politics
influenced rhymes. It was all pretty standardised rap and the lyrics
were nothing to write home about, although it has to be said that most
people around probably agree with the sentiment ‘Fuck Icesave!’ Nicely
put. Later in his set, he was joined onstage by a band, which gave him
a bit of an original twist and the music a bit more depth, moving it
beyond the Eminem style beats, although there seemed to be a bit of a
problem with synchronicity at times, and the guitarist was wearing
sunglasses. Inside. At night. And he kept striking funny rock-star
style poses, although it wasn’t apparent whether he was making a joke
or not. On-stage antics of his back up band aside, Ramses got the ball
rolling and seemed to enjoy himself, if nothing else.
Ramses was followed by Rain, a Lebanese born hip hop
artist/poet who lead things in a new direction with his own brand of
jazz/experimental influenced hip hop, difficult to pigeonhole but
interesting nonetheless. The crowd was at this point very thin, but he
was still well received, in a start-of-the-night kind of a way. Rapping
in both English and Icelandic, he had a totally different performance
style to Ramses, without all the swagger and delusions of grandeur, and
his beats were somewhat softer and more understated than those you
might hear in your average everyday hip hop. Yet, without the power of
some phat beats behind him, his lyrics were left to stand for
themselves and unfortunately they often came up short, with his rhyming
sometimes seeming forced and lacking in flow, original style or not.
However, he was there to represent his music, not himself, which stands
in contrast to the often grandiose style of most hiphop artists and
this alone deserves some respect.

Spaceman was up next, all the way from Dallas, TX. He brought a
standardised American flavour to the stage, which made for a much
smoother feel than the two previous acts. There was some intangible
element of familiarity about his stuff that made it more listenable. He
was backed up by Introbeats on the turntables, who provided pretty good
clean beats for the set. He kept things moving, dropping a decent
tailored cover of Lil’ Wayne’s A Milli among other original material.
Slowly but surely, he filled the dance floor with dedicated
head-nodders and finger pointers. His performance was pretty flowing
but not particularly original, laying out rhymes that were good but
didn’t really push the boundaries of imagination. 

There was a bit of a change in tone for Mighty Jukebox, a duo
consisting of Phonetik Symbol (who also produces their beats) and MC
S.Creeezy. Their gig was noticeably lighter in atmosphere than any of
those who had come before, with all kinds of samples being dropped and
generally a much more fun, less serious approach to hiphop. By now, the
dance floor was packed out and the audience was pretty vocal in their
appreciation; they actually managed to get a fairly decent response to
their requests for ‘when I say Fonetik, you say Symbol’  etc. type
carry-on, where the other performers had fallen a little bit flat. They
didn’t take themselves too seriously and their slightly less heavy duty
beats were a bit of a relief. There is only so much grinding 8
Mile-style bass line the ears can take. So they were cool and a bit
different, using intellect to influence their rhymes rather than just
pure street.

They were followed by Emmsjé Gauti, who took things back to
their Icelandic roots and managed to maintain the packed out state of
the dance floor, although his performance was a bit generic after the
diversion of Mighty Jukebox. The Airwaves guide said that he was one of
the more anticipated performers of Airwaves 2009, but there didn’t seem
to be anything particularly special about him besides his zany zebra
print pants (couldn’t tell if they were a joke or not!).
He was, however, popular with the crowd and his rapping stood itself
well in terms of flow, even though it mostly revolved around the tried
and tested sex/drugs etc. etc. themes. He was joined on stage by
various friends and collaborators, including Diddi Fel who then
followed him with a set of his own, providing a similar performance to
Emmsjé Gauti. His hard style Icelandic rap was almost identical in
sound to Gauti’s and the pair backed each other up on a few tracks and
generally seemed to be pretty used to performing together.

The crowd was still loving it and didn’t show any sign of thinning out for the final act of the night, Introbeats Production feat. FL and Possee Cut.
Introbeats also supported beats for Spaceman and a few other acts
throughout the night, and proved himself pretty well as a DJ, although
that was probably unecessary as he seems to be well established on the
scene. He continued to lay out the nice bassy beats he’d been
presenting throughout the night. FL and Possee continued the trend of
hard-ish rap, beginning the set in Icelandic and giving a pretty strong
performance that kept people there until the end. They have made two
well recieved albums and are right in the thick of the hiphop/rap scene
in Reykjavík, although all in all their style is not much different
than most of the others who performed at Batteríið.

Wednesday at Batteríið was a night of intense hiphop, and a good
showcase of some of the talent in Reykjavík, providing a useful way for
visitors and those not familiar with the local hiphop scene to… ehrm,
become familiar with it. The crowd appeared to enjoy what was on offer,
and once enough beer had been consumed, the dancefloor was packed.
While there wasn’t much variation in style, which made it a bit boring
at times for the uninitiated, everyone seemed to be having fun, getting
down. And that’s what Airwaves is all about.

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