“Rapping in Swedish began as a trade off”

Today hip hopper Denz releases his new single Varje Dag and its music video. In 2014 he released his debut single Jetski which he followed up with the single Måste that quickly gained huge attention.Radar had a chat with him about rapping in Swedish, the word Jetski and plans for the future.

 

When did get interested in music?
– Where should I start? From the beginning?

Wherever you like.
– Okay, I’ve always been a big fan of hip hop music, and I started rapping at the age of 13-14. Or I started even before that, but that was the first time I went into the studio.

What was your inspiration when you first started?
– Straight up American hip hop! I was never really a fan of Swedish hip hop actually, it has always been American hip hop that’s inspired me the most. Of course I like some Swedish rappers too such as Ison & Fille.

Why American hip hop?
– Because that’s what I grew up listening to.

So that’s why your sound is pretty American?
– Exactly! That’s where my sound comes from and is inspired by, I still prefer to rap in English. It was really hard for me to start rapping in Swedish, it was a tough change. I’ve only been doing it for a year. My first song in Swedish was Jetski.

It was really hard at first since I’ve never really listened to swedish hip hop

Why did you start rapping in Swedish?
– It was actually a trade- off with my producer. He presented me with a dope beat and said I that could have it IF I wrote the lyrics in Swedish. I didn’t really want to do it but he talked me into it after hours on the phone. And so I did it and Jetski was created. It was really hard at first since I have never really listened to Swedish hip hop. But I liked rapping in swedish and now I’m starting to feel a bit like a sell out haha.

What do you mean by the word Jetski?
– It basically means something that’s nice. Jetski and the rest of the words in the song are from the western  suburbs of Stockholm, where I come from. And jetski is a word that’s existed for a long time but I decided to bring it back to life again!

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Since it was your first song in Swedish, how was the creative process?
– It took me like one night to write it, and then I linked up with my producer and his team that are also from the western suburbs, and they were actually the ones who told me to rap about the word jetski. A lot of people think I’m rapping about water scooters, that’s the ironic part of it.

But then again you are riding around on a Jetski in the video!
– Haha that’s true!

Your name is Abel so where does the name Denz come from?
– I decided to go with Denz since The weeknd stole my name! No, I’m just kidding. Do you want the long version or the short version?

Obviously the long one!
– Okay so when I was younger I used to hang out a lot in Akalla where many Eritreans live who are named Abel. I’m Eritrean myself so no one really knew who they were talking about when they said Abel, was it me or someone else? And since I love Denzel Washington I just started using the name Denzel instead. So when they were referring to me they always said Abel Denzel. And  later on when I started rapping in Swedish a lot of people had a problem with the name so I just shortened it to Denz. I really like that name, it’s dope.

I never knew that Måste was going to get the attention that it did

Tell us a little about your second single Måste.
Måste was basically just us goofing around in the studio. We were working on the EP that I will be released later on this year, and my team wasn’t really feeling that song and didn’t think that it should end up on the EP. But I really wanted to release it anyway because I knew that people from the suburbs would like it, since they can relate. But I never knew that Måste was going to get the attention that it did.

A lot of great Swedish hip hop music comes from the southern suburbs, is it time for the west now?
– Definitely, now is the time for us. Great musicians from the west are stepping up and delivering really great beats and rhymes. 2015 will be our year!

Who has been your role model?
– My family, my parents but especially my dad. He as always encouraged me to do what I want and to work hard.

And what about music wise, who are your role models?
– Outkast, Dr Dre, Snoop, Jay- Z, 50 Cent etc.

What happens next?
– I will be releasing some singles, and then an EP. And I’m finally going back to rapping in English!

 

Check out the video below!

Photography by Anton Maddock