There’s something about rap music that young artists – no matter what country they come from – find fascinating. Maybe it’s the lifestyle: the fast-track route to fame and success, or maybe it’s because it’s a simple way for lone voices (perhaps even outcasts) to express themselves without ever having to submit to the traditional, well-oiled pop route.
In Norway, a country with a modest population of 5.2 million people, the thirst for rap music is huge. It’s a place that, despite being so different to a gigantic media hotspot like the US, still consumes hip-hop as passionately as they do stateside; right now, everybody from Drake to Travis Scott to Nicki Minaj has a spot in the country’s top 20.
But the country also has a solid reputation for launching homegrown rap talents, too. Some noteworthy names are coming out of the scenes in the capital city of Oslo and the coastal town of Bergen right now, and a lot of them congregated at this year’s OYA Festival. Taking place in the lush Toyenparken in the center of Oslo, it hosted international rap talents like Kendrick Lamar, BROCKHAMPTON, and 6LACK, but also found plenty of space for the hip-hop acts that sent the local crowds wild.
Want to get clued up on the Norwegian artists you should be listening to? From Scandi rap legends to fresh talents you should definitely keep an eye on, these are 10 of Norway’s most exciting names in hip-hop right now.
In a game populated by fresh-on-the-scene kids, Arif has the track record to back up his position as one of the most noteworthy rap talents in Norway today. Having dropped his first EP Kom, Så, Tok, Færdiih back in 2012, unaided by the wave of SoundCloud rap, Arif made it big after winning the radio station NRK URT’s new talent competition. And from that point, he was free to spread his underground sound across the country.
His last record, 2017’s Meg & Deg Mot Alle (or Me & You Against All in English) was a fast-paced rap beast that sonically feels like A$AP Rocky went full pop rap. He’s embraced his position as a mainstream power now, and you can regularly see him linking up with the Lars Vaular (more on him later) and trap kid Unge Ferrari.
Born Kristoffer Karlsen in Norway’s capital city of Oslo, 23-year-old Cezinando is a part-Norwegian, part-Portugese hip-hop entity who’s spent the past half decade rising to the upper echelons of his country’s rap scene. Known for the way he flits between rap bars and soulfully sung lyrics, his music deals with everything from heartbreak to hip-hop’s sillier, throwaway themes – and he’s gained a massive following for it so far.
But it’s not just the kids of Oslo that are resonating with his stuff: in 2016, he picked up the Best Newcomer prize at the P3 Gold awards in Norway; an award that’s gone to Cashmere Cat and Kygo in the past. To truly appreciate the hype, try and catch Cezinando live. A myriad of lights, tilted platforms, glittering costumes and jolting dance moves, it’s a mad sight to behold; it’s no surprise that OYA selected him to close this year’s festival with a packed headline set.
Dutty Dior might be young and pretty new to the scene, but his solo releases and link-ups both have us predicting cool things for him later down the line. At just 21-years-old, the autotune-favoring rapper, born Kristoffer Eriemo, tore up the Vice party at this year’s OYA Festival, and is already getting some serious support from Spotify in Norway.
Songs like “Famous” have that pre-set air of arrogance and self belief that feels vital when it comes to making it big in Nordic rap, while the production on “Fantasi,” his link up with Isah, is giving us real Drake feels. If you like your rap music big, unambiguous, and catchy, Dutty Dior might be your boy.