He’s one of the most important figures at Marmalade Productions. He’s the Big Brother, the one who will look after everybody. Bas Maes started studying journalism, but college life wasn’t really his jam, so he dropped everything to dedicate his life to music.
So, when it comes to Flemish rap, Bas knows what he talks about. He sent us a list of tracks that are perfect to illustrate Flemish rap. Some are pretty dark and sad, but as he said: “those songs have a meaning and they all made part of my life.”
The Radios – She Goes Nana – EMI, 1992
My brother had a VHS tape with the whole The Radios concert at Marktrock 1993. I used to check it almost every morning when I found out he had this tape. The singer of this song, Robert Mosuse, died in 2000 because of a brain tumor which makes this song maybe even more special.
Safi & Spreej – Gouden Lepels – Fase 2 – Eigen Makelij / TopNotch / Universal – 2013
Safi is one of my best friends and I’m honored that I’ve seen him grow into a national known artist, accompanied by his ‘partner in rhyme’ Spreej. I’ve known these guys from the beginning, it’s great to see how they are evolving. It was hard to pick one, but ‘Gouden Lepels’ is one of my favorites.
Castro – Rudy – Shockgolf – Dusk Productionz – 2003
Castro is one of the reasons I started rapping. Around the year 2000, there was not really a Flemish rap group or artist that stood out, or that would make the genre known. Castro showed the whole scene that it was possible to stand out, and even with very conscious raps. And ‘Rudy’ is the perfect example of it.
Tiewai – Kleine G – Ilawo – Eigen Makelij – 2012
Tiewai is, just like Safi, a friend. I saw hem evolving for the last ten years. The song ‘Kleine G’ from the album ‘Ilawo’ still gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. The hook is extremely catchy and then you have that peaceful vibe. The seemingly careless raps make the song very easy to listen to.
Fatih – Dua – Contradictio In Terminis – Rauw En Onbesproken – 2010
Fatih started with Castro, also a very conscious Flemish (Turkish roots) rapper with a critical view on society. This song is a very emotional one, you can really hear the pain in his voice. Beautiful lyrics, beat and delivery.
dEUS – Little Arithmetics – In a Bar, Under the Sea – Bang!, Island Records – 1996
Great song, great music. I used to listen to this music when I was 10 years old, and was still very influenced by my brother’s taste. In my opinion, dEUS never made a better album than ‘In a Bar, Under the Sea’.
Stromae – Formidable – Racine Carrée -Universal – 2013
I already knew Stromae before his mega hit ‘Alors on danse’, and I must admit that I’m still in awe of how far he made it. ‘Formidable’ is the perfect track, topped with a creative, innovative music video. I see this song as a little wink to that other French speaking Belgian legend, Jacques Brel.
Starflam- La Sonora – Survivant – EMI- 2001
The first MC’s that I’ve heard was A tribe called Quest and De La Soul, but I quickly started listening to French rap: IAM, Fonky Family, NTM,… I used to think that Starflam was French, but when I heard they came from Liège, I was amazed that a Belgian rap group could sound so well. I still remember this track live on Marktrock Leuven 2004, one of my first festival experiences.
Selah Sue – Valerie (cover)
As this is a cover, it has never been released, but it’s on YouTube in a live version, back from when Selah was not a superstar yet in 2008. During the time Selah Sue made this, MySpace was the best platform to check new music or get in contact with new artists. When I heard this Amy Winehouse cover, I was amazed that a Belgian girl could sing so well. It reminds me of great singers like Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.
Magot – Altijd blijven lachen – Los – Showarma Records – 2008
This song is not known at all, except by die-hards who have been in the Flemish rap scene since approximately 2005. This song was the first one recorded for Magots’ debut album ‘Los’ and I was almost in tears hearing it the first time. It became an instant street classic in my hometown Mechelen. The beat is very simple but the lyrics make this track very, very powerful. Magot is not active anymore, but in my opinion he’s one of the best Flemish rappers ever.