Iceland and Hip Hop probably aren’t the likeliest of pairs but you’d be surprised at the level of appreciation Icelanders have for the urban music scene. I for one am such a big fan of Hip Hop I once flew to Dublin just to see Mos Def in concert so it pleases me greatly to have the chance to boast about one of Iceland’s greatest contemporary contributions to the genre, DJ Platurn.
The documentary From Oakland to Iceland: A Hip Hop Homecoming which follows DJ Platurn on his homecoming tour of Iceland last year is set to premiere on the 9th of May this year in Reykjavík. Written, directed and produced by Bylgjan’s (a popular Icelandic Radio Station) only female radio host Ragga Magnúsdóttir.
Apparently she was so passionate about the project she even sold her car to fund it, now opting for a bicycle to get around our frosted rock of an island. Impressive by any standards but especially so in Reykjavík where the threat of hypothermia or death by giant 4x4’s looms around each corner.
With a childhood split across two continents DJ Platurn’s family moved from Iceland to California when he was seven years old. This divided upbringing is explored in the film as DJ Platurn, or Illugi Magnússon, travels back home and subsequently into the emotive Icelandic countryside. Along the way he does a string of gigs including Iceland Airwaves and Ragga delves into the Icelandic Hip Hop scene with a number of extracts from interviews with native DJ’s, rappers , MC’s, graffiti artists, B-Boys and promoters.
I have to admit I am excited about this movie, bi-cultural dilemmas are so prevalent in our current globalized community and a personal plague upon this Icelander who at this point speaks Icelandish rather than Icelandic and has now moved from one country to another (yes I counted) over 15 times in the span of 22 years on this planet.
Then again Icelanders are travelers, we have been since the Vikings after all and most Icelanders I cross paths with abroad (and you’d be surprised at how many) are conflicted between their national identity (though national pride is strong) and their exponential absorption of the other cultures they come in contact with.
This seems to be an important aspect of the film, the construction of an identity that is both Icelandic and Californian and seemingly not even an unusual identity dilemma. Check out this Icelandic blogger who also grew up in California as he gets ready to move from the sunny West Side to the cold North Atlantic.
In the most recent issue of IR, Trevor Baker wrote in his piece "Homeward Bound" about Sigur Rós’s music documentary Heima, which followed the band doing a series of free concerts around Iceland and cemented the bands reputation as one of the best ethereal music acts around.
Maybe From Oakland to Iceland will do the same or at least bring Icelandic Hip Hop to the forefront a bit, show people that we are more than just quirky beautiful musicians, but cool old school heralding Dougies with a new twist.
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