Swedish hip hop

Last updated
Music of Sweden
Nuvola Swedish flag.svg
Media and performance
Music charts Sverigetopplistan
Music festivals
Music media
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem"Du gamla, du fria" (de facto)

Emerging in the first half of the 1980s, [1] Swedish hip hop was first heard from the cities of Stockholm and Malmö. Early on, most rappers in Sweden performed in English. Funkalics and The Latin Kings, two very different acts united by their innovative use of the Swedish language, debuted a decade later and paved the way for a second, and bigger, breakthrough for Swedish hip hop. Today, some of the most popular rappers use Swedish, often in different accents.




Percussionist Per Cussion (of reggae-punk band Dag Vag) and Grandmaster Funk are generally credited with bringing hip hop to Sweden. [1] In 1984 they released the songs "Don't Stop", "Snow Blind" and "Payin´ The Price". Breakdancing had arrived a year earlier and spread quickly, its forerunners known as Robot Lasse, Mark, Spirio and Perkeles.

In the summer of 1984, following a major dance competition, Double M Crew, Abdula & The Rockers, Rock Ski, Almighty T and MC II Fresh joined together to form the hip hop collective Ice Cold Rockers, a crew consisting of rappers, scratchers, dancers and graffiti artists. Broadcaster D and One Eye Que (later recording under the name Ayo) started their collaboration.

Sweden, outside of Stockholm, soon became familiar with hip hop when the popular movie Stockholmsnatt , which featured the IC Rockers, came out. Pop-C and Snoopy were on the soundtrack and had a hit in 1986 with their single "Next Time". [2]

New artists followed in their tracks. Rob'n'Raz produced the album Competition Is None and introduced Papa Dee's dub and dancehall influenced rap to the Swedes. See-Que, from Stockholm, collaborated with the American label Priority Records on their compilation album Basement Flavor.

The first real rap song in Swedish "Jag Är Def" came from MC Tim in 1989. [1] The year after, Just D was formed and their decision to rap in Swedish would earn them a huge fan base, and introduce rap to the general populace.

The first breakthrough

By the end of the 1980s, hip hop became increasingly more popular in Sweden. The international success of rapper/singer Neneh Cherry's crossover album, Raw Like Sushi, made the Swedish media take a closer look at the genre in the context of Sweden's native artists. The inaugural Swedish Championship in Rap was held in 1989 and the winner was ADL's group Sons Of Soul. The runner-up was Ms Melodie, who went on to have a career as Leila K. Briefly picking up the torch of Neneh Cherry, Leila K had an international crossover hit with the rap track "Got To Get". There was now a solid market for rap music and record companies were taking notice.

Modern Tensta, with its concrete apartment buildings of Plattenbau style, was (like nearby Rinkeby and Hjulsta) part of the so-called Million Programme. Tenstabetong.jpg
Modern Tensta, with its concrete apartment buildings of Plattenbau style, was (like nearby Rinkeby and Hjulsta) part of the so-called Million Programme .

Just D's ironically titled album Rock N Roll became popular with many people who had yet to embrace hip hop. Snoopy (aka Quincy Jones III) had moved to the USA to produce acts like Young MC, LL Cool J and Ice Cube. [2] The Sure Shot Groove (MC Stranger and Complicated C) debuted with the 12-inch Rhymes R Flowin'. The collective Infinite Mass won the Swedish qualification finals for the World Rap Competition and released their EP Da Blackmass. One of their songs, "Shoot The Racist", was on the soundtrack for the 1993 movie Sökarna and became hugely popular. It was later renamed "Area Turns Red" due to some media controversy over the lyrics.

The Latin Kings ushered in a new wave of Swedish hip hop artists. They used "Rinkeby Swedish", sometimes described as a kind of a pidgin language, to describe life in the 'Million Programme' suburbs of Stockholm. Their 1994 debut album Välkommen till Förorten (Welcome to the suburb), produced by Gordon Cyrus and founder of first the Swedish Hip Hop label Breakin Bread, was a success in the charts and favorite with the critics. [3] The coming generation of Swedish hip hop artists would be distinguished from the first by their inclusion of Swedish language rhymes, as opposed to the exclusive use of English rhymes by Sweden's first generation of rappers.

The second breakthrough

In 1998 Petter debuted with the album Mitt sjätte sinne, which became an enormous success and started the Swedish hip hop boom of the late 1990s. [4] With him came an array of artists, such as Thomas Rusiak, DJ Sleepy and Eye-n'-I. Other artists that achieved mainstream popularity following Petter's break include Ken Ring and Ayo. Feven released her acclaimed album Hela Vägen Ut. Looptroop developed a middle class revolutionary style. Timbuktu, a native of Lund, emerged and went on to gain a reputation as one of Sweden's most popular MCs.

21st century

Acts that has achieved nationwide recognition include: Promoe, Snook, Ayesha, Fjärde Världen, Fattaru, Ison & Fille, Advance Patrol, Lazee, Toftgard, and Adam Tensta.

Many of these artists have been exposed to a domestic hip hop culture since they were born, or very young. In a sense the Swedish scene has become less volatile, and also less vulnerable to becoming extinct. Influence from the U.S. culture is no longer as significant; American hip hop is still important but outside influences also come from French, British, Danish, and Japanese hip hop, and other regions around the world with vibrant and innovative music scenes. Due to file sharing via the Internet and changing consumer markets, the number of records an artist has sold is not necessarily indicative of how popular or important that artist is. [5] There are Swedish hip hop acts who release records for what they know is going to be an economic loss, in hope of earning their money through concerts and other ventures.

The hip hop genres represented in Swedish hip hop are plentiful. Alternative hip hop is, most likely, bigger than Gangsta and Hardcore combined. There are also many fusion genres such as Neo soul, Grime, and Reggaeton.

Swedish rap often deals with themes of multiculturalism and positive suburban identity. Many rappers affirm their ethnic and racial background, but tend to identify more with their community and with Swedish minorities in general rather than with specific ethnic cultures, or with mainstream Swedish culture. Rapper Adam Tensta, for instance, takes his name from the suburb of Tensta and rhymes in his "Banging on the System": "Every burb the same man / and we got every color / we all the same man / at least to them we are / we all immigrants". [6]

2008 is a European Year of Intercultural Dialogue and part of this effort was a hip hop summit in Stockholm called Make it blast!, which took place on the 27th of May. Chaired by Timbuktu, the festival featured rappers from Sweden and elsewhere in Europe and aimed to create dialogue between artists as well as audiences of the European urban music scene. [7]

Notable artists

The list of people who have made a name for themselves in Swedish hip hop can be made very long. With a few exceptions (Feven, Melinda Wrede, Remedeeh), most of the artists are men. [8] Acts that have had some international success include LE SINNER, [9] [10] Rebstar, [11] [12] [13] Looptroop [14] Yung Lean, Max Peezay, [15] and Million Stylez. [16]

Non-commercial hip-hop

There have always been elements within the Swedish hip hop scene that has reacted against the commercial aspects of the music industry and have tried to find alternative distribution and marketing channels for the music. [5] The Internet has had a significant impact in how media is communicated, and through various online communities people without record deals have also been able to find audiences for their music. Examples of such communities that are centered around Swedish hip hop are Frizon and Whoa.nu.

Graffiti culture

Graffiti is, to a large extent, seen as an art form belonging to hip hop. [1] [17] In the early 1980s, the American films Style Wars , Wild Style and Beat Street would have a great impact and influence many would-be artists, as would the Swedish cult classic Stockholmsnatt a few years later. The first graffiti artists in the Stockholm area had names such as Disey, Ziggy, Razor, Merley (aka Liam Norberg [17] ), Puppet and Zappo. [18]

In 2004, the rapper Promoe had a hit with the track "These Walls Don't Lie", recorded and mixed by Soundism, which dealt with the Swedish graffiti culture, and the dangers of creating illegal art at difficult locations. [14]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Guide till Svensk Hip-Hop Historia" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  2. 1 2 ""Quincy "QD3" Jones, III: Executive Bio"". Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  3. "Djungeltrumman.se: "Dogge Doggelito"" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  4. "Pappa hiphop" (in Swedish). SvD . Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  5. 1 2 "Nya kanaler lyfter svensk hiphop" (in Swedish). DN . Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  6. "Banging on the System" . Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  7. "makeitblast" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  8. "De kom, de rappade, de försvann" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan . Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  9. "Le Sinner: Jag vet att jag kommer att vara en av de största artisterna i världen om några år". Sydsvenskan (in Swedish). Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  10. "A Swedish 19-year-old with only 160 Facebook followers just topped Spotify's US Viral Top 50 with his first single release". nordic.businessinsider.com. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  11. "Hey, You're Cool! Rebstar". Mass Appeal. 2017-10-09. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  12. "Musikindustrin – MUSIKBOLAG Today Is Vintage ska ta svensk hiphop på export". www.musikindustrin.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  13. "Rebstar And LE SINNER Debut New Song, "Hello Kitty"". Vibe. 2017-05-26. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  14. 1 2 "LOOPTROOP Vägen från underjorden." (in Swedish). SVT. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  15. "Svensk hiphop bedårar britterna" (in Swedish). DN . Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  16. "Dunderhet på dansgolvet" (in Swedish). DN . Retrieved 2008-01-14. Adam Tensta
  17. 1 2 "Tågmålarlegendaren, mossig ... och nyskapande" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan. Archived from the original on 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  18. "Graffitiveteranen är trogen gatukonsten" (in Swedish). DN . Retrieved 2007-12-09.


Related Research Articles

Music of Sweden

The Music of Sweden shares roots with its neighboring countries in Scandinavia, as well as Eastern Europe, including polka, schottische, waltz, polska and mazurka. The Swedish fiddle and nyckelharpa are among the most common Swedish folk instruments. The instrumental genre is the biggest one in Sweden. In the 1960s, Swedish youth sparked a roots revival in Swedish folk culture. Many joined Spelmanslag and performed on mainstream radio and TV. They focused on instrumental polska music, with vocals and influences from other traditional genres becoming more prominent since the 1990s. By 1970, the "dansband" culture also began.

Icelandic hip hop is hip hop culture from Iceland, which includes hip hop music and rapping, breakdancing by b-girls and b-boys, and graffiti artists and graffiti writers. Early hip hop groups included Quarashi, Subterranean, Team 13, Multifunctionals, Oblivion, Bounce Brothers and Hip Hop Elements. The next generation of hip hop performers, notably BlazRoca and Sesar A rapped in Icelandic. XXX Rottweiler and Sesar A published the first all Icelandic hip hop albums in 2001. Subsequent artists included Bæjarins bestu, Móri, Afkvæmi Guðanna, Bent og 7Berg, Skytturnar, Hæsta Hendin and Forgotten Lores. MGísli Palmi, Þriðja Hæðin, Cell 7, Kilo, Shadez of Reykjavík, Úlfur Úlfur, and Emmsjé Gauti. Icelandic lyrics are usually very direct and aggressive, with battle raps. An important hip hop events is Rímnaflæði in Miðberg, a freestyle competition. Element Crew has been the leading B-boy crew since 1998. The graffiti scene started 1991 with graffiti writers such as ONE, Pharokees, Atom, Sharq, Kez and Youze.


Nerdcore is a genre of music characterized by themes and subject matter considered to be of general interest to nerds and geeks. Self-described nerdcore musician MC Frontalot has the earliest known recorded use of the term in the 2000 song "Nerdcore Hiphop". Frontalot, like most nerdcore artists, self-publishes his work and has released much of it for free online. As a niche genre, nerdcore generally holds to the DIY ethic, and has a history of self-publishing and self-production.

Looptroop Rockers

Looptroop Rockers is a hip hop group from Västerås, Sweden. The members are rappers Promoe, Supreme, DJ/Producer Embee and CosM.I.C. On their fourth album, Good Things, the group changed its name from Looptroop to Looptroop Rockers, a name used unofficially for some years prior to the change.

New Zealand Hip Hop derives from the wider hip hop cultural movement originating amongst African Americans in the United States. Like the parent movement, New Zealand hip hop consists of four parts: rapping, DJing, graffiti art and breakdancing. The first element of hip hop to reach New Zealand was breakdancing, which gained notoriety after the release of the 1979 movie The Warriors. The first hip hop hit single, "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang, became a hit in New Zealand when it was released there in 1980, a year after it was released in the United States. By the middle of the 1980s, breakdancing and graffiti art were established in urban areas like Wellington and Christchurch. By the early 1990s hip hop became a part of mainstream New Zealand culture.


Promoe is a Swedish rapper, and member of Swedish hip hop group Looptroop Rockers, formed in Västerås, Sweden, 1992. He released his fourth album in 2009 entitled Kråksången, and later the same year followed up with the mixtape Bondfångeri. Promoe has a background of graffiti-writing and in turn, many of his songs deal with graffiti. He follows a vegan straight edge lifestyle.

Chaka Seisay known professionally as Chak La Rock is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, producer and DJ. He is the lead singer and founding member of urban soul rock music collective 'Frank Ernest'. He is one of Sweden's first professional hip hop artists.

Hip hop Subculture including music, dance and graffiti

Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture and art movement that was created by African Americans, Latino Americans and Caribbean Americans in the Bronx, New York City. The origin of the name is often disputed. It is also argued as to whether hip hop started in the South or West Bronx. While the term hip hop is often used to refer exclusively to hip hop music, hip hop is characterized by four key elements: "rapping", a rhythmic vocal rhyming style (orality); DJing, which is making music with record players and DJ mixers ; b-boying/b-girling/breakdancing (movement/dance); and graffiti. Other elements are: hip hop culture and historical knowledge of the movement (intellectual/philosophical); beatboxing, a percussive vocal style; street entrepreneurship; hip hop language; and hip hop fashion and style, among others. The fifth element, although debated, is commonly considered either street knowledge, hip hop fashion, or beatboxing.

European hip hop is hip hop music created by European musicians. Hip hop is a style of music developed by African American and Caribbean communities in the United States during the mid-1970s, and became a large part of modern pop culture during the 1980s. Due to this success, it has gained worldwide popularity, especially in Europe where many diverse and unique styles of hip hop have been created. This diversity is especially apparent in the forms of hip hop music and culture emanating from settler communities from Europe's former colonies and peripheries.

Soundism is a group of music producers and sound engineers with music recording studios located in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Västerås (Sweden). They are part of the Swedish hip hop culture. Not only have new artists emerged, but also other actors in the hip hop culture that are less visible to the general public. Soundism has been one of the supporters of hip hop artists in Sweden, which meant that they could put forward recordings to the international scene. Growing out creating music of prerecorded music on vinyl records with the Dj style Turntablism, Soundism understood what sound that was required for hip hop records. Previous music producers and studios in Sweden mainly focused on pop or rock music. Hip hop music has origins in Reggae music, which partially explains Soundism's work within both of these genres.

Kenshin Iryo, better known by his stage name Million Stylez, is a Swedish dancehall artist.

Macedonian hip hop covers the Macedonian hip hop culture and the Macedonian language hip hop music primarily created in North Macedonia, but also in the Macedonian diaspora.

Ken Ring (rapper)

Ken Kiprono Ring is a Swedish rap artist.

Adam Tensta

Adam Tensta, is a Swedish rapper of Gambian descent from his father, and Finnish descent from his mother. His debut album It's a Tensta Thing was a Swedish chart topper, and was awarded the 2008 Grammis for best Dance/Hip Hop/Soul album. His song "My Cool" was featured in NBA 2k10. Adam is signed to Swedish imprint RMH, Respect My Hustle.


Rebin Shah, better known by his stage name Rebstar, is a Swedish recording artist and hip hop entrepreneur. He is the founder of record label Today Is Vintage and Creative Director for World Childhood Foundation founded by Queen Silvia.

Mohammed Ali (duo)

Mohammed Ali is a Swedish hip hop duo that has its roots in Flemingsberg, south of Stockholm. The Mohammed Ali duo, consists of Moms and Alias Ruggig. Mohammed Ali duo is also part of the Swedish hip hop collective Ayla.

Can Canatan, better known by his stage name Stress, is a Swedish musician and music producer.

Today Is Vintage

Today Is Vintage is a Swedish entertainment company founded in 2012 by hip hop mogul Rebstar. Spearheading the "Swedish invasion", Today Is Vintage is the country's leading record label in hip hop export with its headquarters in New York City.

Ametist Azordegan

Ametist Azordegan is a Swedish journalist, television presenter and radio presenter. She was born in Tehran, Iran, but left in 1986, and studied journalism in Stockholm. She presented the Sveriges Radio music show En kärleksattack på svensk hiphop between 2007 and 2014, which was broadcast on P3 and SR Metropol. Since 2013, she has been a reviewer for different cultural events for Sveriges Radios P1, P2 and P3. She is also a member of the Grammis award jury and the Swedish Music Hall of Fame.


Sina Tayefi, known professionally as LE SINNER, is a Swedish singer, songwriter and rapper residing in Malmö, Sweden.