Friday, September 14, 2012

The Latest on the Inuit Rapping Scene

Yes, there's an Inuit rapping scene.

From a piece in Orion...

THERE’S A YOUTUBE VIDEO of an Inuit rapper you got to check out. Two Inuit women wearing miniskirts and sealskin fur vests are throat singing on a stage lit with sherbet-colored light. From the darkness emerges an Inuit teenager in a flashy red coat and a black top hat. At first we only see his back, then he spins around, a large mic to his lips, and produces the craziest string of beats you’ve ever heard. Not words, just sounds, a quick catchy rap riff, like you might hear at a dance club, overlaid by a dim growl, like a man rapping with a monster stuck in his throat. His name is Nelson Tagoona, and the video he stars in was shot at Toonik Tyme, a spring music festival in the Canadian Arctic.

You may not know it, but the Arctic has developed something of a rap scene. Head north to Nunavut, Canada’s vast Inuit territory, and you can hear the likes of DJ Mad Eskimo, who mixes rap with traditional beats; Tumivut, a hip-hop/rock ensemble fronted by throat singers; or Eskimocentricity, whose feverish beats call to mind Eminem, although his lyrics are more likely to involve harpoons than guns. But the hottest new Nunavut rapper of all is Tagoona, who is eighteen years old and hails from a small community in the central Arctic called Baker Lake. The music in the Toonik Tyme video is known as “throat boxing,” a style Tagoona invented. It’s a mix between traditional Inuit throat singing and beatboxing, a U.S.-born form of vocal percussion in which rappers use their voices to generate beats and musical sounds.

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