Gangsta’ in Greenland
Within the last year, the Godfathers of Greenlandic hip-hop, Nuuk Posse, have twice filled up the cultural venue of Greenland, in Nuuk, for an anachronistic performance of a time when all the 30-plus-something from the capital were young, cool and went to Disco Palace downtown on weekends. This performance would perhaps be pathetic, if it wasn’t because Nuuk Posse still deliver their 80-style rap music with such energy and enthusiasm, that they soon have everyone shouting along their songs. But Nuuk Posse is not just an anachronism in the music scene in Greenland today. The group represents a very important moment, sometime around the mid-80s, when hip-hop came to Greenland. A moment that still vibrates in the scene.
The reason why hip-hop culture and rap music have had such an impact in Greenland (and around the globe), is to be found in the style’s genre conventions and its emphasis on places and their marginalized identities. When you rap, where you come from and what you have to tell, is just as important as your technical ability to tell it.
In Greenland, disadvantaged youth found that they had something to tell, and that hip-hop culture offered them a voice. Rap groups such as Prussic (check their tune Angajoqqaat here) set a new agenda for what could be debated in public space in Greenland. Taboos were broken, and the Greenlandic society was changed, because hip-hop culture offered the marginalized a creative outlet. One that enabled social criticism.
Today, rap music has gone underground in Greenland. It is only famous groups from years past that are invited to perform at larger venues. But in Greenlandic prison, you’ll might just hear the unofficial prison anthem “AFD & FTP”, a song in Greenlandic describing life as a criminal but declaring in English “Fuck the police!”. These types of underground rap-songs exist in abundance and circulate on memory-sticks and cell-phones among their audience.
But there are a few widely known contemporary rap artists in Greenland. Peand-eL is one of them. He has released three conceptual rap albums, and made many enemies for his provocative style. This year, he teamed up with electronic artist Uyarakq and created the album “Kunngiitsuuffik” (“A country without a king”). So if you ever wondered how a crossover between Greenlandic dubstep and rap would sound, here is your chance!
At the end of the day, there are not drive-by shootings on dogsled and snowmobile in Greenland. But underground hip-hop culture is thriving, and it is in fact possible to be gangsta’ in Greenland.