Feminist hip-hop phenom Reykjavíkurdætur continue dishing out fresh tunes, with latest video directly addressing all the mansplainers that feel the need to comment on their success. The video was removed after a dispute with an airline operator, but is now back in a slightly more censored form.
Since their formation in 2013, feminist outfit Reykjavíkurdætur has empowered a generation of creatives in Iceland and outside of it, but at the same time been a thorn in the side of many (male) locals. The daughters of Reykjavík didn’t start as a band, but rather a loose-knit collective aiming to get women to take space in the male-dominated hip-hop scene.
Repeatedly criticised for being amateurish, or having weak beats, the outfit grew and matured as an act, releasing hit after hit, touring the world, and earning critical acclaim in the process. And yet the criticism lingers on from a diminishing but vocal group of haters. After all this time the question that begs to be asked is whether the critique has more to do with their gender than their performances.
In their newest release, “Reppa heiminn,” three of the daughters tackle this issue head on. The video features them and fellow hip-hop artist Ragga Holm rapping over a montage of fancy cars, taking plane rides and dining out at KFC. This is then followed by them drinking champagne with their posse, and performing surrounded by scantily clad women. Listed in this manner, it sounds like the description to any number of rap videos, and yet it all feels different when presented so tongue-in-cheek.
In the song’s outro Þuríður Blær Jóhannsóttir elucidates: "I'm rapping for 5,000 people, and you're at home fucking taking a selfie with a few 5,000 krónur [~£35] bills, and then your mom knocks on the door because you still live at home and there's fish pudding for dinner so you have to hurry up, but FIRST you have to comment: 'Go back to the kitchen, bitch, huhuhu.' First get a fucking driver's licence before you go recording a rap song in some fucking car park in a car that you can't even drive, bitch!"
We reached out to Katrín Helga Andrésdóttir, one of the daughters performing in the song, and asked her a few questions about it.
BEST FIT: What can you tell me about "Reppa heiminn" ?
Katrín: “Reppa heiminn” means “to represent the world”. The hook is “You go ahead and represent some neighborhood in Reykjavík, I’m flown out, cause I represent the world, bitch!”. It’s a response to the negativity we face in Iceland in contrast to the love we receive abroad. The video was directed by a member of the band, Kolfinna Nikulásdóttir and edited by her, the producer of the song, BLKPRTY and the featuring artist Ragga Holm.
Is the video an ironic response to the imagery that your male Icelandic counterparts still draw upon in their own music videos?
Haha, no not at all. It’s just us copying what is most popular in music videos today. It’s not satire, we are a 100% serious. Just like the boys before us, we’re simply trying to be cool. And succeeding!
From the get go Reykjavíkurdætur has had to put up with a lot of local rappers mansplaining how you need to improve your flow and chauvinist throwing shade at every release you put out. To what extent is this song an answer to that criticism?
This is totally a response to that. We were tired of all the hate we were getting here in Iceland at the same time as we are touring all over the world and playing lots of international festivals for foreigners who seem to love us. At home we get a lot of shit, but who cares when we’re playing for thousands of people abroad? That’s more than any of the guy rappers in Iceland are doing. That’s what this song is about.
You've written opinion pieces in Icelandic about the importance of women in the music industry sticking together and collaborating in the same way that male rappers so often do. Can you share your thoughts for our English-speaking readers? And do you think Reykjavíkurdætur will try collaborating with more female artists in future songs?
Yeah, I wrote an article about the hip hop scene in Iceland being male dominant, comparing it to the scene that was more popular some years ago when women like Björk, Emilíana Torrini, Sóley, Ólöf Arnalds, the múm girls and many more were very prominent. The music industry has always been male dominant, but as the hip-hop scene brings us all this great music and style, it also brings us back by many decades regarding equal rights in the music industry, at least in Iceland. I think one of the best ways to fight back is for us girls to stick together and represent each other as much as we can.
Reykjavíkurdætur is a ca. 15-piece band, so it’s always going to be about collaborating, whether it is with women inside the band or outside of it. We’d love to collaborate more with new up-and-coming artists. In this case Ragga just sent me a message on Facebook and asked if we wanted to do a song with her, which we did! She turned out to be such a talent and we will definitely work more with her in the future. If there’s anyone out there who wants to collaborate, just send us a message on Facebook and we’ll see what we can do!