Rappers Feat bring the house down at Alianait opener
Hip-hop crew rhymes across Davis Strait
Like many of their cousins in Nunavut, members of the Greenlandic hip-hop crew Feat have seen their share of social problems, grief and loss.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¨ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¨
And much like their neighbours on the other side of the Davis Strait, the members of Feat also share an affinity for the late, influential rapper Tupac Shakur.
It's the first time in Nunavut for the young five-member group, who played opening night at the Alianait arts festival and by all accounts blew the roof off Aqsarniit middle school June 21.
It's also the first time Feat have played outside their home town of Nuuk, where the group routinely packs clubs, says frontman Mikael Rosing.
"We want to meet our neighbourhood," he says, as he and his band mates mill about the gym at Aqsarniit middle school during the typical hurry-up-and-wait of sound check.
They've only been together as a group for six months, but Rosing describes a robust music scene in the Greenlandic capital. "It's almost normal [to be in a band]," he says. "From punk rock, rap, heavy metal, people do everything."
The band cites Shakur, and Detroit rapper Eminem as influences, and the beats on Feat's self-titled album, crafted on a computer by John G. Sandgreen, the group's 17-year-old producer, stand as evidence.
"He's the man," Rosing says.
On stage and disc, the group delivers rapid-fire rhymes in machine-gun Greenlandic with the occasional English cuss word thrown in for punctuation. After all, what self-respecting rap record doesn't contain at least a little sailor talk?
"In Greenland when we use ‘shit' or ‘bitch' it's because we want to look like Americans, gangsta," he says, referring to the tough-guy school of rap that relates tales of street-level gangsterism sometimes found in U.S. inner cities.
It's an attitude they blend with lyrics about growing up in Greenland where, like Nunavut, suicide, violence and poverty are common.
But Rosing is also quick to clarify the teenaged members of Feat don't talk like that when they're, say, ordering a cup of coffee, "just in rap." In fact, to a man, the members of Feat are disarmingly polite.
And they even went so far as to have jackets made up for their trip to Nunavut, with the words "Feat" and "Polar Rhythms," the slogan for this year's Alianait arts festival, emblazoned on the backs.
Alianait director Heather Daley said Feat were an obvious choice for the festival.
"The selection committee chose Feat because they knew the youth would go crazy to see this band," she said in an interview.
Rosing describes Feat as simply five friends who like to make music together. They're hoping to play a festival in Norway next year, which would mark their first show on the European mainland.
"We make a good album," he says, chuckling at his conclusion. "Now we are famous."