The Oslo club scene has in recent years, more or less, rid itself of hip-hop as a genre. This is mostly due to pressure from the police and the commercial agency putting clubs and bars in the danger zone while suggesting that hip-hop as a genre will “without the necessary precautions taken from the organisers," attract violence, drugs and criminality in general. At the same time hip-hop has exploded from this vilified sub culture to a more than ever sanitised popular culture, dominating global music charts.
This months DJ, Kasper Dahl, is in charge of booking and events at Oslo’s (at this moment) only consistent hip-hop club/cocktail bar, Paul’s Boutique. A spot that won last years Oslo Prize for ‘Night Spot of the Year’. Originally Paul’s Boutique was to be a strict 90’s hip-hop bar, a concept that attracted Kasper to go and work there. After a while he found this concept limiting in Oslo both with the crowd and the dancefloor. Eager to make a change he spent a long time going back and forth with the owner to include other DJ’s and sounds, now basically having freedom to do what he wants in the intimate basement used for gigs. He laughs “Picture convincing your hard core and old school boss, with Beastie Boys tattoos, to let a bunch of kids come in and throw a T-Pain Night.”
Paul’s Boutique has since blown up and become an important early stage venue for young up and coming Norwegian rappers like Snow Boyz, 612 and King Skurk One. “In the club scene, the hip-hop term is a lot wider today than it was before, just like hip-hop has flooded into all types of pop music. We are a hip-hop club, but our DJ’s still play everything from Nas to Sean Paul. Funk, Afrobeat, Dancehall, R&B and Rap. I don’t know, something that might be referred to as urban music” he says with a smile. Kasper has no problem booking young DJ’s playing only modern Afrobeat and bouncy R&B as Paul’s Boutique still keeps it real throwing hip-hop quizzes and booking O.G. hip-hop heads like Jan Steigen from Tungtvann (Classic Norwegian rap group) to perform. Recently they also held the 20th anniversary party for Son of Lights legendary rap album 'Deep Green', with DJ’s like DJ Herkules and Tommy Tee (Called the Norwegian godfather of rap).
Kasper has had a long interest in hip-hop, remembering the first time he heard Takin’ Ova by Tommy Tee one summer and thinking to himself “what is this?” He immediately felt something, listened back three times and then asked to copy it to his cassette playing it on repeat that whole summer. It was something with the energy, nerve and mischief stuck with him and put him on a path to embrace the entire culture. Kasper has been playing everything from funk to soul, dancehall and R&B throughout his seven years DJ’ing in Oslo, however, all these years later hip-hop has always been a genre that, to him, felt like something else and something special.
“Even though we grew up in the 90’s/2000’s we remember it still being somewhat of a sub-culture. Being the only two or three hip-hop kids in class and dedicating our entire life to this shit. Making cassette-tapes, burning CD’s, creating minidisc mixes with the few new special tracks from each album. Back then, it was maybe even more important to listen and learn all the classic albums rather than to keep up with the new stuff.”
He still remembers finding it kind of liberating letting go of the strong urge to be a “real” backpacker hip-hopper in his mid teens, opening up more and not condemning all rap that sounded “poppy”. With the amount of music that is out today and the large influence of pop rap and trap I spoke to Kasper about how he feels about this once subculture becoming a large global influence and how this is affecting the quality output. He says that he is open for all types of hip hop and is not strictly into one area of it. “No matter what genre your into, all that matters is the nerve or emotion that hits you. The difference now is that you just can’t keep track of every single new song that’s out.”
Kasper started DJ’ing about seven years ago, when his friend DJ Gambo asked if anyone wanted to join him at a gig the night after. “I raised my hand and without knowing anything about mixing or whatever borrowed a Traktor Mixtrack Pro, which I later bought for 150 kr and Gambo taught me how to use it the same night”. A week after he was discussing the gig with a friend while the booking manager of Smelteverket walked by. She asked him if he wanted to play there to which he agreed. A coincidence that turned into a weekly gig, filling up Oslo’s longest bar every Sunday. Since then he has been DJ’ing mostly with his friend Sakka Chuck, The guys from Nova Amor, Høvdingen Rytmeforening and Anand Chetty.
“I guess we just started to play all the shit we wanted to party to ourselves. Bouncy, dancy tracks from when we grew up together with bass heavy newer tunes that still didn’t scare away the crowd. A sound that has sort of exploded with a lot of young DJ’s who come to play at Paul’s since then.”
All photography by Ronja Penzo
Being the only DJ Mix Kasper has made until now, he told us that he found it nice to cook up something that did not necessarily need to please a Saturday night dance floor. Cooking up a mix of new and old with a sound varying from classic Busta Rhymes to his up and coming producer/rapper friends Larsiveli & Makko Makeba. He tells us that it felt good to mix something that didn’t need to keep a crowd locked on the floor and to instead just play something he would listen to on the bus or with his friends during the dark Oslo winter.
Up and coming gigs:
Saturday 20. January – Eli Melby (Nova Amor) + Kasper Dahl – Pauls Boutique