Being dubbed as the birthplace of hip-hop, America surely leads the way in the eclectic genre. With classic hip-hop groups like Public Enemy and De La Soul to modern day hit makers such as Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West, it isn't difficult to see why the biggest rap stars hail from America. Even so, while the U.S. might be on the map as the hip-hop capital, there are MCs from other countries who are just as nice, even when they're rapping in other languages.
This polyglot, meaning a person who is fluent in more than two languages (cue "the more you know" jingle), has dominated the rapping scene in just about any language. From French, to Spanish, to Arabic and more, Manu Chao has had people singing along to his songs. Some of his lyrics have a deep meaning, some of his lyrics are just plain funny but one thing is for sure - he's recognized worldwide for his amazing talent.
"They say I disappear/
When I arrive, I’ve already left/
In a hurry I come, in a hurry I go/
Rushing, rushing on a lost course/
They call me ungrateful/
But that is not the truth/
In my body I carry a sorrow/
That won't let me breathe/
In my body I carry a curse/
That pushes me to keep moving."
With five platinum records and a gold one, it's clear to see that Emis is known for his skills in Italy and has done quite well for himself. Whether it's about having a good time, or little kids in the poor Brazilian city of Maracanã, Emis can rap about anything and make it an Italian hit.
"Dreaming to take the field/
While the god of soccer watches from above/
He makes a shot barefoot while thinking of the curve/
Scores and rejoices imitating Ronaldo/
He repeats to himself that he's gonna make it/
From the slums to division A/
He'll make his mother and father proud/
A new idol at Maracanã."
Literally meaning "wealth has arrived", Olamide has taken the Nigerian hip-hop world by storm. Known for his light and fun songs, this musician can effortlessly switch from English to Yoruba while rapping, making his own medley of lyrics.
"They say I have become arrogant/
They say my stomach has gotten big/
We are eating well/
They want to see me fail, I stand rigid/stand my ground/
They say I have messed up/
They forgot when me and my friends did not have decent shoes to wear."
La Mala Rodriguez
La Mala (meaning "the bad" in Spanish) first step foot onto the rapping scene in Spain at the tender age of 17. Her lyrics reflect hardships and have even been banned for pushing the envelope on real issues.
But few respond, tell me how/
When, where - we are all the same with or without money/
I don’t ask for wastes, I want what’s mine first/
Sweating, doing things my way takes a lot of work/
Look at him licking that honey/
I have what you want/
Bad without being one, nine, seven, nine – I know who you are and how much you have."
Nico & Vinz
You may remember this duet group from last summer's radio hit song "Am I Wrong", but what you might have not known is that they reign from Norway. Before making it big in America, these two were already popular in countries across Europe and even Canada and New Zealand. While they clearly can sing in English, they can rap in French and Norwegian too.
Puerto Rico isn't a different country, but it is its own island. With different customs, a different language and its own identity - Puerto Rico houses a whole lot of talent, one of its main artists being the impressive Calle 13. His music speaks for itself. With extremely powerful lyrics and some smooth beats, Calle 13 could easily lead as an example in the hip-hop world in any country.
"After seeing how they move/ The gangs and their gangsters/ You think I’d be scared/ Of your gang?/ Shoot whenever you want you little thug rapper/ Here the wrongdoer doesn’t win/ The most clever does."
This badass rapper reigns from the land of Iran, a place where rap is actually categorized as illegal.That, however, doesn't stop Salome MC from rapping about socio-political issues in her home country.
"I was born with a open hand so I could hold the torch of my people and light the way/ The forces that oppose me are reduced to ashes when I ignite the flame/
You cannot fight the pain in the truth of the message that I convey/
I got the right to say that it's quite the same when you realize/
That freedom has a very heavy price to pay/
Put the knife away I will pardon your foolishness as part of the tutelage/
Intelligence is a crime simply not being myself is to harbor a fugitive."
A combination of the word "MC" and "homicide", Emicida, is one of the few rappers in Brazil that is heading a hip-hop revolution. Known for his talent at improvisational rapping, this São Paulo native can lay down some rhymes on just about anything and murder it, hence the combo of homicide in his nickname.
"Anyone thinking small will die small/
Not to be better than anyone else, only to get out of the mud/
Those who fell was because mistook respect and fame/
In my mind there is no small misunderstanding/
The game is dirty, the one who deceive will win."
Getting his start on YouTube, thanks to the power of social media, rapper C-Kan has been dominating the rap game in Mexico. With some of his videos having over 58 million views, it becomes clear to see that C-Kan definitely has made some big waves in hip-hop.
"I remember every little detail like it was yesterday/
From the scent of your hair to the color of your skin/
I'm faithful to your memory but it doesn't solve it/
If every 'tick tock' from the clock screams come back."
Going against his father's wishes, who urged him not to become an artist, Tablo took the risk and dove into the music industry all while attending Stanford (something tells me he would have been fine either way). In attempting to coop with his sporadic episodes of depression, this Korean native began to use hip-hop as a tool. He soon came into fame for his talent and is now a household name.
"You just had to meet me when I was at rock bottom/
Whenever you smile, my heart aches/
To me, everything is guilt/
Is that a half-smile/
Is that a smile that did not fully bloom because it doesn’t know a different world/
You say you’re alright but I guess I can only give you the state of being alright/
Because I hated to show you this small and embarrassing empty hand."
"You just had to meet me when I was at rock bottom/
The sound of your cries make my heart ache, to me/
Even though I want to comfort you, I'm exhausted and my face grows dark/
I can't make you laugh and I put you to bed, who passed out from crying/
My stopped two hands are your watch"
Coming all the way from Germany, Samy Deluxe has always been interested in American hip-hop and thanks to his struggles of growing up in a middle class family and dealing with the prejudices of being half-black he was able to use his experiences for his songs.
"When I was a child I heard that wishes are dreams, dreams are lies/
That was yesterday, yesterday is yesterday, today is today/
It seems as if I started Rap yesterday, today the rooms are full of people/
Whom hang on my lips, it has sense to follow one's dreams/
Yes and no, my dream meant success and joy/
As well as failures and missteps, which I regretted/
But fortunately my soul was never for sale for the devil/
That's why I was there long enough to interpret my dreams/
Dreams are not expectations, because these are."
Rightfully representing Poland on this list is GrubSon, a.k.a. Tomasz Iwańca, is not only known for his rapping but also his Dancehall inspired songs. Thanks to his brother who was a festival organizer, Tomasz was able to showcase his skills to crowds of people until making it big.
"Angel of death, please tell me/
why are you are indifferent to us/
are best for you, young victims/
that never did you any harm and you treat them like dogs."
At the age of 38, Booba, also known as Elie Yaffa, is a rap connoisseur. Being the most legally downloaded artist in French history, this mastermind dominates the mic, letting American hip-hop be his inspiration.
At a young 23 years, Alexander V. Yarmak, more commonly known as Yarmak, raps in both Ukrainian and Russian and has quite the fan base. From rapping about love to rapping about political issues and injustices, Yarmak is definitely the boss of the rap game in Ukraine and Russia.
"A guy is not a boy, he'll never cry/
If he took a girl in his arms, he won't make a fool of her/
He won't fiddle away the feelings, he'll keep the promise/
He won't say, 'Sorry but that's not because of you'/
He won't babble to everybody saying you're so nice in bed/
He won't be mocking you, lacerating your heart."
AKLO "RGTO" feat. SALU
AKLO is half-Japanese and half-Mexican and went to high school in the U.S. where he was heavily influenced by Master P. Now he's killing it making major waves rapping and making hits in Japanese.
"As usual, I represent me/
Unique style, try, got nothing on me/
There is no indecision between quality and instant replies/
I surely stay, rap game try out/
Rap game try out/
I'm the one yeah/
Without a doubt,i'm the one yeah/
In an immediate state once again, job gets done/
I surely,stay rap game try out."