So far, the growing globalisation in music has seen the likes of Luis Fonsi‘s ‘Despactio’ and Korean boyband superstars BTS take over the charts and enormo-venues of the west. Reykjavíkurdætur, a 10-strong female rap crew from Iceland, might not be about to take over music’s mainstream world, but they reinforce the idea that you don’t always have to speak the same language to understand someone.
Often branded a feminist group, the women take on subjects that warrant a little aggression or attitude, be they railing against sexual violence or bragging about how cool they are. With fragments of English thrown in here and there as they rap mainly in their native Icelandic, new mixtape ‘Shrimpcocktail’ finds them on typically brash form.
Take ‘Reppa Heiminn’ (which translates as ‘Represent The World’). Over dark, stuttering fanfare, they deliver sexually liberated lines and assert, “I represent the world, bitch” in a tone that’s both playful and badass. Later, as the music begins to subside, they mock patriarchal attitudes, sneering: “Get back to the kitchen, bitch.” In ‘Kalla mig hvað?’ (‘Call Me What?’), they spit “I don’t give a fuck” with so much vitriol you can almost feel the saliva splattering your face.
On ‘Pussy Pics’, the crew show their more surreal side, opening things up with a confession: “I wish my pussy was my face to make the world a better place.” Its chorus is less odd but just as good, revolving around the line “Can’t stop sending those pussy pics“, with distant voices instructing things like, “Look at the clit.” Even in a world of Cardis and Nickis, its saucy lyrics still feel like a rarity (they drop the word “pussy” over 30 times), which makes them all the more thrilling.
It’s not just in the tone and rhythm of their words that Reykjavíkurdætur express themselves. Musically, ‘Shrimpcocktail’ pulsates with moody production and skulking bass throbs. ‘Intro’ sets the mood with echoing cries and bolts of ominous fuzz, which later appear again in ‘Pussy Pics’. ‘Hvað er málið’ (‘What’s The Matter’) is brilliantly grimy, the deep bass so strong it sounds like its shaking the very bones of the whole track, while closing track ‘Ekkert Drama’ (‘No Drama’) shows that these ladies know how to have fun too. Effervescent with its bubbly bounce and garage beats, it feels like an old-school club classic, especially when Icelandic singer Svala – one of the judges on the country’s version of The Voice and its representative in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest – flies in with honeyed vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on any ’90s dance tune.
Reykjavíkurdæetur have long stated their mission, conveyed on their website, is to “rebel against the conservative, misogynistic values of modern society.” In their latest mixtape, they honour that goal with something that’s dark, powerful and packs a whole lot of filth.