We join forces with Perrier for a four-part selection of 100 essential Belgian tracks. In part 1, we go hard and take a historic roll call of Belgian rap with these 25 iconic releases, both old and new. Braaaaaaap.
1. Placebo – Stomp (1974)
Not a rap track per say, but the drums and baseline are insane. Plus it was sampled by Mighty My for High and Mighty’s Not All There. Placebo head honcho Marc Moulin deserves a spot on the Hip Hop Hall of Fame for the sheer amount of producers that have sampled his work.
2. Gantwerp Rappers – Poopeloo (1980)
This is apparently one of the first Flemish rap groups ever. And it’s not as bad as you’d expect it to be. Shout out Offshore § for the tip.
3. Brussels Rap Convention – Defi J and Rumky – Couleure Noire (1990)
A space funk stomper, precursor of the Belgian rap game released back in 1990 when hip hop still meant Kangol hats and baggy clothes. Defi J alone deserves praise as the granddaddy of local rap.
4. De Puta Madre – Strictly Barrio Sound (1995)
Dark and deadly, this killer cut, off the iconic Brussels rap imprint’s debut album Une Balle Dans la Tête released in 1995, is without a doubt one of our all time favourites.
5. Pee Gonzalez – Sozy Kaizer (1997)
SozyOne going solo under his Pee Gonzalez moniker for a string of 12” releases on his crew’s 9mm Recordz imprint. Released in 1997, the record cemented SozyOne as a versatile wordsmith whose bars drew on pop culture references and an unwavering neighborhood attachment (1030!). Iconic.
6. L2FDP – Golden Shower / Fais pas l’con (2006)
Founding members of iconic Brussels rap group De Puta Madre, SozyOne and Smimooz let loose in this sister-project that sees the usually cool and composed duo give in to their more sadistic and surreal sides, all in the name of sarcasm. Brilliant.
7. Salted Slugs – Nightwash (2011)
Whilst you could argue that a collaboration between Ssaliva and Dynooo has no place in a hip hop playlist, it’s hard to resist the vicious groove that underpins the track. One made for convertibles that’d make Ostend front as the new LA.
8. Give me Five presents James Deano, Rizla, Caballero, Nefkeu, Seyté, Alpha Wann, JeanJass (2012)
Freestyle session for underground hip hop platform Give me Five that brings together Brussels, Charleroi and Paris complete with a fresh-faced JeanJass before he hit it big.
9. Veence Hanao – Chasse et Pêche (2013)
The wasted and bored generation’s anthem, this track sums it up perfectly. Pertinent lyrics, poignant delivery and powerful imagery, this is the kind of rap narrative we’d have loved to see more of on the scene. Unfortunately, due to having lost parts of his hearing, Hanao has since stopped rapping, dealing a massive blow to local hip hop output.
10. $oul’Art ft. Kain – Love and Politics (2014)
$oul’Art got a lot of attention when their songs were included in the breakthrough film Black’s – with the neo-soul vocalist Martha playing the beloved Mavela – and rightfully so. A fine specimen of the limitless power of trilingual rhymes, on an old school East Coast beat.
11. Fujako – Kosmic Excentricity (2015)
Sitting somewhere between hip hop, dub and traditional fanfare, the moonlight-like atmosphere of Kosmic Excentricity makes you want to smoke a last blunt whilst witnessing the end of the world.
12. Damso – Bruxelles Vie (2016)
The undisputed heavyweight champion of the Brussels rap game, the protégé of the Duc de Boulogne literally decimates the competition with Bruxelles Vie: “le rap français K.O. en un seul feat”, literally. ?
13. Hamza – One One (2016)
Whether you dig the kind of misogynistic and hood rat rap of the Laeken local or not, the velvety and wavy vibe of One One embodies better than anything the capital’s moist and hazy end of nights.
14. Stikstof – Dobberman feat. Roméo Elvis (2016)
Half-way between the heavyset grime of Virus Syndicate and the experimental narrative of l’Atelier, Stikstof dabbles in electronic, future-friendly hip hop, with the local scene’s latest it-boy Romeo Elvis on feat duties.
15. Dave Luxe ft. Thast – Rep Your Country (2016)
Doing his part to put Belgium on the rap map, Dave turns a dark leaf and unleashes this ice-cold rework of American rapper Thast. Complete with no-nonsense vocals, this is mood music for when the wrong bitch crosses you.
16. Isha – Passage à niveau #1: Le gang de la Rue Pelletier (2016)
Isha’s shown time and time again that’s he more than capable of dropping unapologetic heavy hitters – so it’s a delight to see that he doesn’t lose his depth when on a softer instrumental. Playful yet brutally honest.
17. Shay – Femelle (2016)
Granddaughter of the father of Congolese Rumba Tabu Ley Rochereau, niece of French rapper Youssoupha and of course Belgium’s First Lady of Rap. A deliciously in-your-face anthem on an evil flip of an Amerie remix by Kaytranada.
18. Caballero & Jean Jass – Yessaï (2016)
The cheech and chong of Belgian rap, Caba and Double J bring humour, intellect and skill in this smart cut. Responsible more than anyone out there for having kick-started the scene’s undeniable renaissance. Bless.
19. Romeo Elvis – Bruxelles Arrive (Feat. Caballero) (2016)
Had to be done. If cities had official anthems, this would have to be the one.
20. Seven – Chill & Ride feat Caballero&JeanJass (2016)
Laid-back, West-coast infused rap straight from Ixelles. Lean, clean and mean.
21. Peet – Smooth feat Romeo Elvis (2016)
“Bruxelles est comme une grande darre.” A lean-back track that embodies the grand family affair that is Brussels’ new generation of rap talent whilst playing testament to local hip hop not necessarily needing to be about boastful claims and chauvinistic games. All killer.
22. Zwangere Guy feat Le 77 – Tourette (2017)
Hard, heavy and nasty, this cut by Brussels-based Flemish rapper Zwangere Guy and Le 77 – the later without a doubt one of our favourite rap duos at the moment – sets a dark precedent for any rapper with plans for stepping up. Think again because lyrically, these guys don’t muck about.
23. Darrell Cole – Time (2017)
Born in London, a stint in Sierra Leone and now based in Barcelona – but Darrell Cole will always consider Antwerp to be his home. Might not be the strongest lyricist, but he’s got one of the smoothest flows out there, as well as a great ear. One to watch.
24. L’Agent Verhaegen (Pablo Andres) – #UPCT (2017)
Rap is nothing if it ain’t funny, a feat perfectly characterized in this piss-take of a track recorded by former rapper turned superstar comedian Pablo Andres, aka L’Agent Verhaegen, who recently became the first Belgian stand up comedian to sell out Brussels’ Forest National. Those in the know will also notice a few cameo appearances the likes of JeanJass (him again), DeparOne (of Give me Five fame) and, last but not least, Daddy K.
25. STR – Sac de Sport (2017)
A fresh-faced rapper with a tendency for the weird and wonderful, STR aka Sami Tha Rippo makes codeine-laced trap music heavy on the bass. Add to that a good dose of humour and, well, you have yourself one of the most ballsy and hard working kid on the local circuit.