Hip Hop Does Not Have Norwegian Borders

It’s safe to say that popular music is able to cross borders effortlessly. When music has the power to bring people together, it fuels the fire of music genres to create a global identity. What is a global identity in terms of music? 

Global identity in music refers to having an international presence.

If you have traveled throughout the globe, you can notice that some music styles crossed over with your travels to various destinations. With similar global genres of interest, it’s interesting how nations interpret those musical factors. For example, Techno and electronic music has its face in almost every part of the world today. With this heavy underground demeanor mixed with a mainstream atmosphere, many DJs have gone to tour all across the world being easily recognizable. Hip hop has created not only a music culture, but also an authentic lifestyle. And with this musical culture, hip hop has been one of the genres to crash barriers and flourish throughout the world. Norway is one of the places to embrace all that hip hop embodies.

From blues to country, Norway has expanded its musical horizons to create an authentic sound of global genres. The fusion of romanticism and Swedish classical implications, Dansband music has grown into a respected genre with traditional roots. Black metal, Jazz and pop music celebrate the spirit of the Norwegian culture, however hip hop has grown from a seed of a sub-genre to an easily identifiable musical entity of Norwegian epicenes.


Norwegian Hip Hop

Hip hop is a strong force for the Norwegian community. With the genre molding together rhythmic music with vocal implications of rap, hip hop was established in the summer of 1984. Beat Street was debuted in Norwegian theaters that year. The movie depicted New York City hip hop culture through graffiti, breakdancing, and DJ implications. The American drama dance film highly influenced the world of Norwegian hip hop culture for years to come. At the time, the sub-genre expanded through its dance and graffiti culture. Throughout the 1990s the rap of Norway was mainly English until the 21st century. Rap forms in various Norwegian dialects came into the genre thus started a generalizing of Norwegian rap culture. Tungtvann was one of the first Norwegian hip hop bands. In the mid-2000s rap became a mainstream polarized genre which sparked the question of what authenticity transpired through the world of Norwegian Hip Hop.



Hailing from Western Norway, the Norwegian rap group Side Brok, flourished onto the scene. Sjef R, Thorstein Hyl Ill (Sief R’s alter ego) Skatebird, Tore B, Odd G and Tunk. The influential rap group went further to receive the Nynorsk User of the Year award in 2004. Multilingual and multicultural Norwegian groups began surfacing through this golden age of Norwegian rap.



Bergenfest is a music festival that takes place every year in Bergen, Norway. This musical cultural experience embraces many styles of music, where rap is highly favored. Artists such as Arif, create a true hip hop impact.


Rap Music Royalty

Arif Salum is an Oslo rapper that fuels upon the journey to hip hop enlightenment. With his first ep release in 2012, along with his band B.A.W.S the artist is a prime example of making a solid career in art and music. When the year 2013 came around, the unstoppable rap artist won the NRK award while releasing his first official album “Never and Always” that following year. Arif gave his hand in RnB and rap contribution. The album High Ends/ Asphalt the album gave him prestigious accolades, winning various awards as well. The album stayed consistent on the VG-list, and won the Spellemannprisen 2015 award in the urban category.  The rapper’s third album, “Meg & You Against Everyone” was nominated for three special awards: Urban Album of The Year, Song of the Year for “Alene”, and best music video at 2017 Spellemannprisen.

“Alene” expresses the modern interpretation of hip hop as it gives a vibrant yet intimate vibe through the rhythm and vocal intention. The listeners fall into this trance of various RnB textures as it gives a different approach to the hip hop sounds that are so polarized in Norwegian society.



Music that Crosses Mountains

Upon my arrival in Norway, I was eager and nervous as I arrived at Oslo for the first time. Europe only seemed like a dream years ago, but the long shifts of hasty retail clothing stores paid off. I was warned by plentiful YouTube videos and wealthy acquaintances that “cultural shock” will spread through your body like an infectious disease. I jumped into the taxi with a soul full of butterflies. I haven’t seen my best friend in such a long time. Would she look the same? Has she changed drastically since our late-night sleepovers in our adolescent years?

As I jumped into the taxi there was a sense of relief, as Ed Sheehan graced the stereo of the focused driver. I realized in that moment the power of music and its translucent nature. Norwegian hip hop embodies the similar nature of American hip hop and rap. Intricately, the rap structure keeps the same rhythmic pattern and vocal approach. With the language differences, in an English-speaking perspective, it amazes me that rhyming schemes are the same in terms of performance flow. The visit with my best friend was like any other. I fell in love with the Norwegian lifestyle along with the amazing food.

However Norwegian rap proclaims that music such as hip hop can truly be embraced throughout the world. What is next for Norwegian Rap? The answer is quite simple: It will never fade away. This particular culture has glued itself so prominently in the young generation that it would almost be impossible to wipe out the genre entirely. However, implications of hip hop are becoming more experimental, as new artists dive into the world of rap and RnB.

Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney

Read more reviews from the author. 

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