Albanian hip hop
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Albanian hip hop refers to artists from Albania, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro as the Albanian language is spoken in the whole region of Albania and Kosovo and some parts of Macedonia, Greece and Montenegro. Albanian hip hop also refers to rappers from other Albanian-inhabited places such as the United States, Switzerland, Germany and United Kingdom.
Since 2012, a team of French people tried to help improve hip-hop culture in Albania. They created the first Albanian hip hop festival, which took place in Tirane, Elbasan, Shkodër and Korçë.
WNC (White Niggas Clan), another group from Pejë, was one of the first rap groups in Kosovo.
The second biggest rap group formed in Albania is Banda Butuesi. It was formed by 99ci, DMC a.k.a. Babloki and others from Bajram Curri, a town in northern Albania. The group which brought modern rap to Albania though, was the legendary 2Die4 which were formed by four men from Fier, Albania.
Other old school famous Albanian rappers are Mr Elvis, Akrepi, Rudi, West Side Family and Vagabondi.
Rap was in Kosovo during the early 1990s, where the most prominent rappers were Getoar Selimi, Unikkatil, Presioni, Ritmi Rruges, Duda, Etno Engjujt, WNC,Lyrical Son etc.
Often inspired from the war against Serbia, but also helped by their melodious Nordic Albanian accent (Gege), hip hop artists from Kosovo gained a higher reputation and market sales in the Albanian-speaking territory (including Albania). Kosovo's hip hop has evolved very quickly in production and lyrics, to that point where it influences people and their way of living.
Unikkatil AKA Rebeli was one of the first Albanian rap artists. he started rapping in the early 1990s, mainly against the Serbian government.
The album called E-Gjeli, released in 2003 by a group called NR (urbaNRoots), was the album that made a revolution in the Albanian rap culture.
Modern hip hop labels, artists and producers
Notable Kosova hip hop labels, artists and producers include:
TBA (The Bloody Alboz). This is the most well known and famous Kosova rap label, with their main artist being Unikkatil. Its other artists include Kobra, DMC, DMK, Presioni, Tee and Klepto.
PINT (Për Inati Njoni Tjetrit) is another well known and famous Kosova rap label with members such as Lyrical Son, McKresha, NR and Nuke.
BS (BABA STARS) is one of the most famous Kosova rap labels. BS members are Ghetto Geasy, Agon Amiga, Skivi, Cozman, Majk, Onat etc..
Ham Squad is a modern Kosovan rap and was the first Kosovan label to bring rap music to the Kosovan music industry. Its members are Bloodychuck, SingullaR and Buta.
T.L.A (The Loco Albas) is an Albanian/Kosova rap group that was formed in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Their style and name are inspired by Mexican gangs. They record with their main artist (9mili) a.k.a. Real Bangz.
There are a lot of Kosovan rappers who are independent or on labels that are not completely hip hop oriented, including Gjiko, Mozzik and Getinjo.
Brief description of the Post 2010's Albanian hip hop music industry
Centred in Kosovo
TBA (The Bloody Alboz) is one of the largest labels based in Kosovo. Some of TBA members are UnikKatil, Presioni, Jeton, Cyanide, N.A.G Tee and Buja. Their leader, UnikKatil, is the most famous, although he has been living in New York City since the end of the 1990s. His albums and songs are quite famous, especially on the Internet through social networks. Although the label has a wide support in the public, especially in Kosovo, its market share is low, with no real marketing and lack of albums by other crew members.
The BABASTARS group has a huge advantage in the latter aspect. In 2015, the group comprised Ghetto Geasy, Agon Amiga, Skivi, Onat, Dr.Mic and Cozman. The group started and was founded by the two members of Tingulli 3nt, Getoar Selimi (Ghetto Geasy) and Agon Amiga, as a "fusion" with Skillz (the hip hop group formed by Ledri Vula and Visar (Skivi)). The group expanded and was quite successful, also due to the previous success of the groups involved. However, the co-operation did not always go well, as crew members came and went, as in the case of Ledri Vula, who left the label in 2012. In the meantime, Babastars have featured various and famous pop and hip hop artists in Albanian-speaking territories, like Stresi from Banda Butuesi, Mimoza Ahmeti, Tuna and Flori Mumajesi. Thus, they possess a much bigger market share than the other groups, and as often happens, this was often accompanied by video and lyrical controversy. Nonetheless, BabaStars have a bigger audience than other Kosovo labels in Albania.
Another group is P.I.N.T. - Per Inat t'Njoni Tjetrit - which is known in English as 'For Each Other's Ire'. Composed of Kosovars hip hop veterans Lyrical Son, MC Kresha and BimBimma, the group differs in its approach as it tends to compile albums more than singles, and it has a high market share and audience as well. Albums like BimBimma's Rraj't (2011), Lyrical Son & McKresha's P.I.N.T (2013) and McKresha's Emceeclopedy (2014) have achieved high sales and popularity among the Kosovar audience, although higher in Kosovo. They have often released features and singles with other famous Albanian pop artists like Flori Mumajesi, Elvana Gjata, Dafina Zeqiri, DJ Blunt, Aurela Gaçe and Blero, or hip hop groups and artists like KAOS, Noizy, Varrosi and Real 1. They are often considered as the rappers who make every song a hit. Mc Kresha's 2014 album Emceeclopedy is known as an album that made a rap revolution in the 2010s of Albanian rap.
GG Army is a label founded by Duda, another Kosovan hip hop "old blood" from the 1990s. One of the oldest groups, it has passed through a series of changes and ups and downs. Its peak was in the early 2000s, with hit singles which gained a reputation among Albanian-speaking audience for their rhythm and unique style: strong, greedy lyrics accompanied by equally strong videos, or funny and comical videos. However, with the imprisonment of the band's leader Duda, the label laid low until their comeback in 2015. Other rappers include B Genius and Overlord.
Ledri Vula, previously a member of the Skillz musical group, is a popular solo artist. He is constantly present in celebrity magazines for his personal relationships.
KAOS is a musical group centered in Pristina, Kosovo, composed of Lumi B and Vig Poppa.
Gjilan Hip-hop Rivalry
Two of the biggest hip-hop groups in the city of Gjilan are "E7" and "GG Army". Until 2004 there was no conflict. In 2005, during a joint concert a tragedy occurred where these two groups caused unrest in the entire city of Gjilan. Both groups caused the cause of the tragedy to fall into one another. The two leaders were arrested, but in Gjilan the rivalry did not end. Until 2013 there are many street fights and murders. But in that year two groups make an agreement to stop the rivalry in the street!
Centred in Albania
In Albanian territory, the two largest labels are OTR and Banda Butuesi. The former, an abbreviation for "On Top of the Rest", was founded by Noizy, JR, Varrosi, Lil Koli, etc. The leader is Noizy, quite famous with his single career in both countries, having quite a fair share in the market and a good marketing strategy. Most of the early members have lived in London for a time, or in a few cases, they still live there. The group expanded through the late 2000s, mainly in Albania. In the overall market, including both countries, the only singer who had a wide market share was Noizy, mostly with singles or sometimes Albanian pop features like Ciljeta, Enca Haxhia, Eni Koci, etc.
Gold AG is well known in all Albanian-speaking lands. He often uses nationalistic and religious themes in his songs, especially Muslim ones. He connects his religion with politics, corruption and everyday life in the new independent Kosovo, even going a little "against the flow" from his colleagues, with famously denying any type of drugs or alcohol. His favourite theme is nationalism as he represents the idea of Greater Albania.
Banda Butuesi was founded by Stresi, another Albanian rapper. He was born in the city of Kukes, in Northern Albania. Although Stresi has featured with a variety of well-known Albanian pop artists, his label aims towards gangsta' hip hop. The two labels have been the source of problems in Albania and its capital Tirana, for their feud, which has quite sometimes resulted in violence between the corresponding followers and fans.
Almost all of the hip hop artists in Albanian-speaking territories prefer live shows and performances in pubs and clubs throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, USA, UK, Denmark, Austria and Germany - basically wherever you can find some Albanian population.+
The biggest solo concert ever held in Kosovo and Albania was UnikKatil's. It took place on 15 July 2012 at Pristina (Kosovo) Stadium. Around 27,000 people were present for his first and only wide-open concert.
The last years, the first female rappers came such as Tayna, Gjira, Rina etc.
- Gail Warrander, Verena Knaus (2010). Kosovo. Books.google.co.uk. Bradt. p. 41. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- Stu Sherman (3 March 2005). "Kosovo's Burning: Punk rock and Albanian rap—in a war zone". Anthem. Retrieved 28 February 2014.