From Iceland — The Icelandic Rap Scene Is "Dead", And Its Women Are Ignored

The Icelandic Rap Scene Is “Dead”, And Its Women Are Ignored

Published September 17, 2020

Photo by Ben

A recent article published on the RUV website, has been making waves by announcing the death of Icelandic rap music.

The article, written by Davíð Roach Gunnarsson, slammed the rap scene, saying that, although a lot of good music was still being created, “The same homogenous sound, rhythm, structure and voice-changing effects have prevailed for too many years, and little or no progress has been made.”

Rapper Salka Valsdóttir responded to the article, criticising it for not mentioning female rap artists. “There is some talk of an Icelandic rap scene as if there were no women in it…All the time that the rise of the third rap wave in Iceland has lasted, women have been a counterweight”.

Imitating the American scene

“They (male rappers) have been imitating the American model, which is mainly people of colour who are in fact saying ‘I’ve raised myself up with my own power, I’ve beaten your system’. And these are white Icelandic guys imitating this behaviour”. She went on to name several female artists who have broken the American rap mould and done very well, both domestically and internationally, including Reykjavíkurdætur, Cyber, Alvia and Countess Malaise.

“It came as a surprise to me that he should not have taken that into account”, although it is important to mention that ‘masculinity’ is cited in the article’s opening paragraph as one of the reasons for the death of ‘the entire Icelandic hip hop scene’.”

Rap relies on capitalism

She concluded by saying that the American rap scene which many Icelandic artists are so desperately trying to emulate was pushing young listeners towards unhealthy levels of materialism, relying heavily on branding and  capitalism to sell records.

“It has the effect that young children want to buy disgustingly expensive branded products and all of a sudden the class division in primary schools has become obvious. The torchbearers of capitalism in pop culture in Iceland today are obviously rappers.”

And perhaps female rap artists are the antidote to this problem. “Women come from a place that is closer to the roots of hip hop, in that it is fighting for something. There is a need for expression and we are using this forum to express ourselves in order to explain our place in society.”

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