Denmark Vessey, the Detroit rapper named in honor of the man behind the planning of what could have become the largest slave revolt in North America in 1822, dropped Sun Go Nova, an album broken into two parts: a 5-track EP produced entirely by Earl Sweatshirt and Knxwledge and a beat tape produced by Denmark himself.
A soulful and intricate production, Denmark describes his work as “alternative and left-field… not light substance-wise, but light in that I want people to think of it as a treat, a little instance of coolness, a flash in the moment but not to be forgotten.” I can attest that while simply listening to the album can get anyone to bob their head, understanding the immense substance and meaning he’s spitting in his verses is an experience that’ll really get the mind going. From drawing analogies from the sun to expressing the need for Ethiopian coffee, Denmark delivers on his chilled, unique beats at an energetic and passionate pace.
Paving the way for producers in the Italian trap scene is the Milan-born Paolo Monachetti, known as Charlie Charles. Having grown up in Seguro, Charlie stepped into the rap scene at only 14 years old. At 21 years of age, he released XDVR alongside Sfera Ebbasta, a record that placed him in the front of the Italian hip-hop scene and caught the attention of Roccia Music and Marracash, an independent Italian hip-hop label. Especially after the release of Rockstar with Sfera Ebbasta, Charlie sits at the top of international charts.
A few standout songs I recommend checking out are “Bimbi”, “RAP”, and “Tran Tran”. Each has a unique style featuring rap talent from across Italy. The tracks stand as a mix of modern American trap, combined with elements of reggae and old school hip-hop, with a dark, mysterious tone. From unique loops to nontraditional synthesizers, Charlie is often accredited with bringing new futuristic sounds to Italian hip-hop, breaking the norm and introducing new sounds in the emerging genre.
Despite the immense amount of respect he’s gained while making moves for Italian trap, when it comes to the crazy life of a rap star, Charlie dejects it. Charlie claims to have “fired himself” from future live sets, and continues to produce music in the comfort of his home rather than traveling around.
“Non voglio passare per spocchioso, ma quello che sto facendo in Italia è distintivo… Sento, nel mio piccolo, di aver dato qualcosa alla trap senza scadere nel banale.”
In other words, Charlie isn’t interested in the luxurious, wild lifestyle that is assumed for such a big artist. Having rejected big labels, including Universal and Warner, it’s clear that Charlie wants the best for his art without the industry getting in the way. Rather, Charlie is set on molding the growing trap genre, bringing something new and distinct with the music he releases.
While alternative rock dominates the Italian music market, new genres are beginning to emerge amongst growing communities across the country. Various forms of hip-hop, from trap to R&B (with an Italian twist), are becoming increasingly widespread. Il Trap Italiano is my attempt to touch on the key figures, international influence, and business foundational to genres avant-garde to Italy’s dynamic music scene.
With over 8 million plays in the world within 24 hours of the release of his latest album, it can be said that one of the leading figures in Italian Trap is the bold and compelling Gionata Boschetti, more commonly known by his stage name Sfera Ebbasta. With the help of the talented producer Charlie Charles, he has received both Gold and Platinum records certification for his music, released his own brand with Charlies called BHMG, and plays a huge role in the emerging Italian Trap scene.
Rockstar is Ebbasta’s second album curated by Charles and Daves the Kid under Def Jam Recordings and Universal Music Italia. There are two versions of the album for the international market, allowing Ebbasta to catch the attention of listeners worldwide. With features from big names, including American artists Quavo and Rich the Kid, his name is spreading rapidly across Italy.
With massive sub beats, heavy hip-hop synthesizers, and skilled use of autotuning, Ebbasta’s music is undoubtedly classified as trap with the influence of reggae, Latin, and electronic styles strongly prominent throughout Italy.
What’s next for the artist? “Ho girato l’Italia e l’Europa, ho fatto featuring internazionali, mi sono evoluto molto. E non ho intenzione di fermarmi qui.” In other words, Ebbasta is confident in his international presence, stating “I’m not going to stop here.”
It’s been a month since the release of the expanded album 1992 Deluxe and Destiny Frasqueri (aka Princess Nokia) continues to turn heads as she both gracefully and aggressively shares what’s been on her mind. From songs like “Bart Simpson” to “Brujas,” Princess Nokia’s pride for her Afro-Latina roots and her Spanish Harlem upbringing is passionately narrated.
Conversations integrated within her music are elaborated in a radio show she also created, Smart Girls Club. Designed as a “platform for spiritual wellness, divine healing, educational magic and afro indigenous identity” (Instagram), Princess Nokia continues to inspire and empower feminist, activist, and bruja communities around the world.
Also be sure to check out how Princess Nokia is taking big leaps towards relief for Puerto Rico in her recent video “The Seven Sirens Healing Camp for Disaster Relief Of Puerto Rico.”