Hip hop is currently enjoying some of its golden years all around the world, and while the genre is also making strides in Malta, it seems like the country is set to do more than just match international hype.
In 2017 alone, old and new hip hop artists alike have stepped up their game at an incredibly impressive pace, which leads us to believe that we might be sitting on a musical goldmine after all.
Here’s why we think hip hop can soon become one of Malta’s coolest exports.
1. Fresh talent is showing up on a regular basis
The most vital thing you need for a genre to progress and evolve is new blood, and Malta’s generously churning this out when it comes to hip hop. We haven’t shied away from praising the likes of 215 Collective, a young group of rappers who perfectly blend different styles of hip hop from all over the world.
While they might not be the most typically Maltese artists, it’s 215 Collective’s effortless blending in with international acts which makes us think these guys might very well be ironically exactly what Malta needs to expand its music scene. And with more than 7,000 views in less than a week, it’s safe to say somebody’s watching these guys closely.
2. It’s not about “money and bitches” for these artists
You might be fooled into thinking that hip hop is all about making loads of money and throwing the cash all over you and all the scantily-clad women around you, but you’ll be happy to know you’re wrong. At least when it comes to Maltese hip hop.
Take this untitled, collaborative track by Kapitlu Tlettax, FishCult and Sirus Furban, for example. As soon as the music video starts with a protagonist walking in the hauntingly beautiful Addolorata Cemetrey and he utters the words, “Għad inkun mejjet u tiġi fi kliemi, dawk qalhom nannuwi ftit qabel ħallieni”, you know it’s going to be about more than just superficial cars and houses.
Another Kapitlu Tlettax track actually uses the famous Missierna prayer as the chorus, and talks about anything from free speech, to the question of religion. And of course, let’s not forget Shyli Cassar, the female rapper who took Malta by storm last year with her track Il-Patt, dealing with problems Maltese youths face after losing loved ones.
3. They often end up showing us a part of Malta we didn’t even know existed
Sure, young Maltese hip hop artists can pull off modern rapping styles straight out of American charts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also do something that’s 150% Maltese. Enter artists like Sempliċiment Tat-Triq “minn qiegħ Multa tagħna”.
Hip hop artists like STT show us what it’s like to grow up in the closest things Malta has to ghettos, and from videos like Iswed Tnejn Zokkor featuring the backstreets of Rabat, there’s a lot left to learn. And with some classic rapping styles straight out of the 90s heydays, samples of decades-old songs, and good old vinyl scratching, these artists have got what you need if you’re still trying to get into more contemporary styles.
Of course, that’s not even mentioning legendary local artists like Digby and NoBling Show, who regularly challenge what we think we know about this tiny rock and the struggles of the people living on it.
4. They’re not afraid to call it like it is
Maltese artists have a tendency to be a bit too conservative and safe, but that’s definitely not a problem for our hip hop artists. At a controversial time for sociopolitical commentary, scene heavyweights like Marmalja went ahead and released a song during election weekend that attacks all the corrupt or hypocritical politicians “Ħadd minnhom patrijotti, dawk kollha karrotti!”
And lest we forget Jon Mallia from NoBling Show’s anthem Nitfgħek fuq Spallti u Niġri Bik, which was inspired by Lovin Malta’s manifesto launched on April Fools. If something isn’t quite right, these guys have no problem with spitting out a couple of verses to try and wake us up.