The rap scene in Sweden right now is explosive, MCs seem to be growing on trees and as labels and producers keep signing artists, the hip hop climate just keeps erupting. We’re witnessing a generation of lyrical geniuses eager to take the reign and wow us with their verbal magic. Our native rappers seem to be dying to grab a mic and vocalize stories from all kind of cities scattered across the nation. Measuring the pulse, Sweden seems to be undergoing a new wave of upcoming cloud rap artists feeding on this relatively groundbreaking sub-genre. With rappers such Sthlm-based Ivory on the beat charting its course, its no doubt a pleasure to watch the movement blast the media.
IVORY is indeed the latest edition to the heavy line-up of MCing kings and queens, and has elbowed himself into the Scandinavian rap game with his silver tongue and trippy sound paving way for cloud rap to emerge in the scene. The debut album Molnfällan (= Cloud trap) dropped in November 2013 on Level 8 Studio and offers a slice of atmospheric bliss, where the uncanny meets the trippy mind of IVO – from the tipsy gibberish, to the slick rhymes about standing tall and having a blast while you’re at it, onto the dreamy beats layered with dark undertones, and shit gets spooky…. if anything – Ivory is the Freddy Krueger of rap destined to create a buzz here in Sweden. 2014 promises a year full of red carpet scenarios, cracking bottles and popping collars – take it all in.
IVORY recently released the highly anticipated EP ‘Rap Game Jackie Arklöv’, plus the spanking new video for ‘Andreas Kleerup’ (off Molnfällan) just a few days ago, I caught him in the midst of all things, pulled the brake, and managed to squeeze in a brief chat with him.
Cloud rap seems to be a genre breaking grounds little by little here in Sweden, why do you think that is? How come cloud rap is being perceived as a ‘sub-genre’ and relatively unknown to Swedish listeners?
– The genre is rather unknown in the US too actually, it hasn’t quite become mainstream over there, at least not yet. Cloud rap is an internet phenomenon and a genre that’s expanding online on Soundcloud, and its response has been massive, but then again that’s just online. Its something you wouldn’t spot on MTV nor on other media channels. I feel like nobody in Sweden is doing it to the same extent as I do, I listen to cloud rap daily and the flow is just something that comes naturally to me.
But nowadays there are commercial artists who’ve just recently started hitting cloud rap sounds and collaborating with major trap music producers, such as e.g Asap Rocky with ‘Fashion Killah’ and Beyonce with ‘Drunk in Love‘, and then of course there are rappers such as Lil’ B and Yung Lean who are putting a face to cloud rap. So it’s definitely getting bigger. As soon as it gets too commercial, then shit will just turn for the worse, as soon as artists start doing the same thing, people will just get bored. Same goes for Swedish hip hop, I don’t only stick to one genre I make all kinds of hip hop beats and my latest EP mirrors that, there’s a mix of old school tunes, cloud rap and more.
When did your love for that Memphis sound first come about?
– During 2003-2004, I had received a Three 6 Mafia song on my email and I was like ‘wow’ it was a completely different type of sound to me. I checked all their albums off their label Hypnotize Minds and I was fascinated. You can instantly distinguish their sound, but I was surprised it didn’t breakout to a bigger extent, I mean they never really received the response they truly deserved back then, until now. I just dig that kind of flow, its so mysterious and atmospheric. The BPM is at 140-130, the most common BPM in hip hop is usually 175-180, I’m all for that kind of trippy, spooky and creepy soundscape. It’s just so skilfully produced and love trap music, I can’t stop indulging in mix tapes I’m always only hunting for that fresh beat.
You’re pretty much a Soundcloud-genius and seem to have an ear for beats and sounds, where does all that knowledge and passion come from?
– Well, I love music and I’ve been up several nights on end working and creating beats. I love doing it. There’s a whole world of people creating beats nowadays, a new generation of sound freaks producing beats on Soundcloud. My dad is also a musician and our home is full of albums ranging from all kinds of genres, from Louis Armstrong, to cuban salsa, hip hop and reggae. Music has always played a great part in my life, Dad was passionate about his music and worked at a studio where he’d produce music influenced by african tunes, I used to visit him back in the days when I was 18. As soon as I started writing lyrics, I just knew that I enjoyed doing at once, that’s what kept me going. It came naturally to me, people in my surroundings rapped, that’s just what we did.
What does rapping mean to you and what inspires you?
– When I was younger I used to rap all the time at youth centers, its always been a huge passion of mine. But life hasn’t been easy, I’ve had my downs, family issues, and doing stuff that I haven’t enjoyed doing. Its been a struggle, rap to me is a must. I’m almost 25 and I haven’t really done anything productively until now. It all comes down to doing what I love best, and that’s making music.
Peep the video for ‘Andreas Kleerup’ above beautifully directed by the promising talent Alexander Peri, and stay tuned for more soon to drop videos off the album and mixtape.
Keep an eye out for IVORY on www.ivoryonthebeat.com & Soundcloud.
Still from ‘Andreas Kleerup’ directed by Alexander Peri
Ivory – “Andreas Kleerup” (2014)
Script: Tony from Sweden @ Level 8 Studio
Directed by: Alexander Peri
Produced by: Alexis Von Schantz (BABKI) & Level 8 Studio