EMKEJ & BAND
Emkej needs no introduction in Maribor; he’s well known by all generations of music lovers, in particular the younger. But, yet and still…
Emkej’s first real forays into music came over one decade ago when he and his fellow crew members of Tekochee Kru released the record Adijo stari, kaki scenarij, featuring the hit single Veronika that left everyone in the audience with a roguish grin on their face. Everything started off on a whim, without any big-time ambitions – just something to do at night with the boys while sipping on Jäger-Fantas. If the crew wanted to record, they had to come up with a plan. Vocal lines were dubbed over Šuljo’s masterful beats in the apartment of Emkej’s parents, in his sister’s room to be exact, to an audience of stuffed animals.
The only ambition Emkej had had at the time was to produce good songs that he could be proud of when he’s old. A few years later he cooked up Šmorn and brought the winning recipe – lyrics we can identify with, convincing vocal lines and delivery, an infectious Styrian dialect, and a pinch of racy humour. Šmorn was soon followed by Znajdi se, featuring Jernej Križman and Cifre, produced in collaboration with DJ Splif.
Aside from numerous solo gigs, Emkej earned his stripes in the Velenje-Maribor hip-hop crew Velebor, where he joined forces with Mito, Ghet and Mrigo. It was this very desire to create together and connect other artists that lead him to founding the self-production record label Wudisban. Under Wudisban, Emkej brought together 10 young hip-hop artists. The idea behind the label is to create an association of rap heads who encourage one another and offer advice, help, and support. The idea proved more than successful, as the crew keep banging out new records and help keep the Slovenian hip-hop scene alive and true.
Probaj razumet is Emkej’s fourth solo album. The title itself (‘Try to Understand’) hints at a deeper, more deliberate and even mature record. We could say that we’re seeing a more mature iteration of the Styrian hip-hop phenom, whose lyrics are still down to earth, real and funny. The album was a few years in the making; it’s not an instant product, everything was well thought out, the beats carefully selected, the lyrics perhaps a bit more complex, but still relatable. The record again brings 13 songs that differ not only in topic, but in music as well. Unlike on previous records, Probaj razumet features numerous producers. Aside from Doša, Ghet and Sunny Sun, Emkej took a chance on younger, less prominent producers such as Emilijo, Tamau, and Rey. Other collabs include the guitar master from the Primorje region Teo Collori, singer Anina from the band Generator, and Emkej’s father Borut Kocjan, former member of the legendary band Pepel in kri.
KANDŽIJA I GOLE ŽENE (CRO)
Kandžija is the best Croatian rapper; and he has the best supporting band in the region – Gole žene. His is also the best album, both in his home genre and broader, an album that was preceded by past bangers like Zlatne ribice, the EP Dvoejzična ploća, and the first album he made with Gole Žene – all these records culminated in his newest record Nema labavo.
His M.O., carefully selecting and mixing scenes from everyday life in Croatia into a spicy fish stew the main ingredients of which are tears – some of sadness some of laughter, is to create something amazing and unique in the music scene. He could be compared to Rambo Amadeus, but Kandžija, just like Rambo, and just like each other world-class genius, is walking his own path that is nothing but original, a mark of a true artist.
And why are Gole žene one of the best bands you’ve never heard of?
Because they are a chameleon of styles – R&B, funk, disco, jazz, all through tamburitza folk music. They feel right at home with Kandžija, as they make each other what they truly are and Kandžija’s stories grow stronger when backed up by the band. But Gole žene are far from just a supporting act; they are a living, breathing treasure chest of sounds that come alive in their concerts.