Hip hop: an international tour

Give hip-hop credit. It’s an international affair. Looking at a globe, it’s at times impossible to point to a country that doesn’t have a rap industry. Why is that? Probably because the issues explored in rap are so universal. No matter where one lives, there’s bound to be police brutality or some sort of abuse of state power.

Ivy QueenSo much hype surrounds Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and Sarai, but you have not heard anything until you’ve jammed to this Boriqua artist whose bold, self-asserting—at times man-hating lyrics—has earned her the approval of female fans everywhere. Her album En Mi Imperio ranks among her best, followed closely by her latest Diva and 1999s Original Rude Girl, the title of which pretty much sums her up!Close Call(s): Enemigo, Orishas

MC SolaarThis Frenchman of Senegalese descent could have been an R&B singer, with the right training, considering how Godiva-chocolate smooth his voice can be. But, he chose to rap, and lucky us. Solaars cynical, risky verses coordinate well with the eclectic beats often found from his albums, the most stellar one being Prose Combat. His latest Mach 6 only serves to show that he’s as great as an influence as ever.Close Call(s): Minilik, Iam, Akenaton

Ms. DynamiteDirectly from Britain, this raptress has often been compared to Lauryn Hill, but clearly she has an identity of her own. She attacks mainstream rap for its materialism and sadomasochism in a way National Political Congress of Black Women Dolores Rucker never could. In one single, It Takes More she raps: Now who gives a damn/About the ice on your hands?/If its not too complex/Tell me how many Africans died/For the baguettes on your Rolex? Her advice to females: Real women ain’t sexing for no mans dough/Real women work hard to make the dough.Close Call(s): London Posse

Die Fantastischen VierTheir 1995 almost all-German albums Lausch gifts four English songs (Popular, Love Sucks, Hey Baby, On the Next Album) did little to make DFV popular in the States. But no matter: they can spit out rhymes (or what sounds like rhymes) as if they’re in a rapping fest with their lives on the line if they lose.Close Call(s): Teku

LiroyIt’s hard to fathom it, but Poland has a hip-hop community too. Liroy rates as one of the most popular ones. He sounds particularly enraged on the track Jaki Ojciec Taki Syn, on his self-titled album, but who knows what hes saying. But in hip hop rap, language understanding doesnt really matter. Its delivery, the range of emotions that can be felt that is significant and Liroy delivers that.Close Call(s): Grammatik, Kaliber 44, Fisz