What Quarashi kicked off in the 90’s has become a fully fledged movement, and is now a significant part of the Icelandic music scene. Inspired by The Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine, Quarashi achieved some moderate success on both sides of the pond (USA + Iceland). They are still my favourite representatives of the genre for Iceland, and currently on a comeback, with recent ’Chicago’ single and new album due out imminently. They are the only significant act that still spit their rhymes in English, which is no longer really representative of the modern scene.
The newer scene is almost entirely native language, and owes more to XXX Rottweiler - who were in turn and in part inspired by Quarashi, but rhyme entirely in Icelandic. The latest wave has its origin point at around 2011 when Gísli Pálmi put out track ’Set Mig Í Gang’ influenced musically by underground East Coast rap, but lyrically entirely rooted to Icelandic culture. Some of the material I would consider rides on the boundaries of ’whack rap’, but this sort of reminds me of the early UK grime scene - where the sound was still being properly formed, production was fairly raw, and lyricism not quite up to standard - lot’s of ’ah, yeah’ and lots of unnecessary ’mf’ profanity.
All these acts though continue to improve, and there are most definitely now some proper tracks doing the rounds. Although I feel that for full crossover success - these guys will need to branch off into English, as least for a couple of tracks.
So following the Icelandic music export evolution - from Jazz Funk (Mezzoforte) through indie - SucarCubes and Björk, Stuðmenn / Strax then electronic - GusGus, Múm, Ske, Stafrænn Hákon, Yagya, Ölvis, then Sigur Rós / Jónsi, Slowblow, Emiliana Torrini, Apparat Organ Quartet / Trabant, Mugison, Steed Lord, Ólafur Arnalds / Kiasmos, Bloodgroup, Þórunn Antonía / Berndsen, Hjaltalín, Amiina, FM Belfast, Agent Fresco, Of Monsters and Men, Dikta, Ásgeir Trausti, Retro Stefson, Samaris, Júníus Meyvant, Kaleo, Sísý Ey, Himbrim, Young Karin - and we now have the 4th wave of hip hop ...
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