The late 2000s has been a big year for hip hop as confident and fierce women dominated the genre. Beyonce’s fearless transition from R&B to hip-hop, Nicki Minaj blessing us with her biblical verse in Yeezy’s Monster, Cardi B’s confidence and raw bars that made Billboard Charts history, and of course, Iceland’s REYKJAVIKURDAETUR helping elevate the definition of a female rapper beyond their nation.
Photographed by Hallur Karlsson
From the land that gave birth to the Bjork and Sigur Ros comes Reykjavíkurdætur, a hip-hop powerhouse outside of Iceland and especially within. These 15 ladies incorporated sisterhood within a known male dominated genre, especially in their country’s hip-hop soundscape. But their notoriety is beyond smashing gender-norms and proving how women are strong in numbers. Their verses go beyond the hashtag #femmethefuture. The power of the 15 ladies within Reykjavíkurdætur lies within their verses that are fearless, political, and as strong as the women that spits them.
The world, within its current political climate, needs a good waking up. Reykjavíkurdætur is that fresh, ice cold brew that the world needs: it wakes you right up and is strong enough to fight for your rights. We’re lucky enough to get a chance to take a sip of this Icelandic brew and nit-pick its complexities. Members Anna, Steinnun, Ragga, and Solla talk us through Iceland’s political climate, the love/hate nature of social media, and taking Spice Girls’ 90s idea of girl power into another level. And don’t worry — these world class bitches won’t be lost in translation.
Photographed by Saga Sig
“We are all very different and we don‘t always share the same opinions, but we respect each other and that‘s how we can work together.”
STATUS: What was the idea behind creating a powerful she-force of a rap group in Iceland of all places? Does the political climate in the country have something to do with it?
STEINNUN: The idea was to create space for ourselves in a male dominated scene. In 2013, Kolfinna and Blær started talking about their shared interest in rap music and they decided to organize a female only hip-hop night. It was a hit and proved that there were many female MCs in Iceland in need of a platform to grow their talents. From these hip-hop nights, the group formed sort of a clan and has since evolved into a band. Iceland is a small country so when a group of 10 + decides to fight for a change, it is very likely that they will make an impact. That‘s what happened with us.
STATUS: What does it take to be a Reykjavikurdaetur?
STEINNUN: We are all very passionate about this project and have been together through some rough times that had made our bond stronger. We are all very different and we don‘t always share the same opinions, but we respect each other and that‘s how we can work together.
STATUS: How would you describe your rap collective to outsiders of your country?
STEINNUN: Wutang meets Spice girls with a little Björk and Cardi in the mix.
STATUS: Who are the mothers of Rekjavikurdaetur? (Who are the artists that inspire your music?)
RAGGA: I would have to say M.I.A and the mothership — Beyoncé. However, if we talk dudes; Drake and Kanye West. Maybe predictable, but I love those dudes!
SOLLA: Kate Tempest, Erykah Badu, Missy Elliot, Skin, Tori Amos, Alvia Islandia, etc.
STATUS: What is the political climate in Iceland? Is there something that us foreigners don’t know about it?
SOLLA: Iceland is the Scandinavian Sicily. Everyone knows each other, which can be easy when it comes to scratching backs, but they do exclude others. There seems to be a divide and there are times that are uncertain. Its not the paradise people want it to be.
Photographed by Hanna Vang
“The people who hate us the most are the people who mistake us for some kind of a feminist activist group. That is actually not at all what we are. We are first and foremost a band.”
STATUS: What makes hip-hop perfect for all of you to get your message of feminism and social equality out there?
RAGGA: I think it’s the freedom of writing lyrics. In hip-hop, you can kind of say anything. And of course, hip-hop today is so current. People just love hip-hop. Fact.
STATUS: What does it mean to be a feminist rap group in Iceland? Do you get more love for it or hate? Does it matter?
RAGGA: Social media says it all, I think. It is a love/hate thing; some people just hate it and some people love it. We are kind of putting THAT image on the side though and focusing on making good music, trying to drop some of the propaganda. The beef is over, the point has been taken, I guess? Girls?
STEINUNN: Yes, we are all feminists. Basic. But our lyrics aren’t always full of feminist message. We usually just write about ourselves and partying and banging and stuff. The people who hate us the most are the people who mistake us for some kind of a feminist activist group. That is actually not at all what we are. We are first and foremost a band.
STATUS: Apart from your bars/lyrics containing messages of social awareness, what makes the rap collective’s sound stand out from other rappers in the game?
ANNA: Each and every one has a lot of energy, so it’s a complete bang when it comes together. There are few things as good as girl power, but the music scene in Iceland is very strong and I think we bring something original.
STATUS: What is one social issue or topic that you would like to address next in your album or track?
ANNA: Well there are 15 of us and we would probably all answer that differently. Some of us want to make lyrics about feminism, politics, heartbreak, and others want to make lyrics with close to no special content at all. After a while, we started feeling a double standard where people expected us to always make lyrics about something important, while men seemed to have more space to rap about nothing.
Photographed by Ivet Hrnčárová
“We have goals, we are gonna reach our goals, and we can’t wait to show the world our new stuff.”
STATUS: Describe what a common Reykjavíkurdætur gig/show is like.
STEINUNN: Nine extremely good looking friends having fun on stage, feeding on each others energy and pushing limits, while spitting out the hottest bars over some banging beats. Energy, fierceness and skills.
STATUS: What is the best thing/best performance that happened to you guys so far?
STEINUNN: We really enjoyed our gig at Roskilde in the summer of 2016. We didn’t really know what to expect before we went on stage, and we had prepared ourselves for a small crowd of skeptic people. But then we came out. There where so many people and so much love. It was perfect. But we have had many great shows since! Our last show, that was in Caen, was so good.
STATUS: What are the goals of the rap group other than changing the Icelandic rap scene?
RAGGA: First of all, from now on at least, we just wanna make good music, music that people can listen to. We have goals, we are gonna reach our goals, and we can’t wait to show the world our new stuff.
STATUS: What is your advice to aspiring rappers who are female and/or a minority?
ALL: Don’t be afraid to suck.
Written and Interviewed by Rogin Losa
Art by Gelo Mariano