Cover picture from volkskrant.nl
In a world largely dominated by songs in English, music with Dutch lyrics might sometimes escape your attention if you do not actively look for it. And while you have definitely heard of world-renowned Dutch DJs like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren and Hardwell, this not where it all ends. Dutch music has a lot more to offer, including a whole scene dominated by, let’s say, less conventional lyrics.
We will here focus on five prominent Dutch pop-rap artists whose songs will help you discover the street language and practice your badass attitude. Because what you find in books is not all there is to the Dutch language.
Some exposure to the street language will save you the embarrassment of speaking perfect formal Dutch but not being able to understand people who address you in informal contexts. Think for instance about participating in a group conversation at a nightclub or realizing what’s going on when you fall victim to a verbal attack on the street. It is always better to come prepared.
Ready to have some fun with real Dutch?
(Disclaimer: We cannot be held liable if you use the wrong word in the wrong context, so be selective in your reproduction of vocabulary found in songs of the following artists.)
1. Ronnie Flex & Lil’ Kleine
Ronnie Flex first appeared in 2012 with the song Soldaatje, which he brought out together with rapper Mr. Polska. His major breakthrough was the 2015 hit Drank & Drugs, which he sang with Lil’ Kleine. The title is quite revealing about the song’s content, so no big surprises here. Drank & Drugs reached the first position in Dutch charts and led these two rebellious personalities to widespread popularity. In 2016 they collaborated again in Lil’ Kleine’s debut album WOP. Their lyrics are notorious for their explicitness about …wait for it… drugs, alcohol and sex.
2. Gers Pardoel
Sometimes you just become addicted to a song and there is nothing you can do to get it out of your head. Ik neem je mee is the best example of catchiness when it comes to Dutch music. Part of Gers Pardoel’s debut album from 2011, it is the most successful Dutch-language hit to ever have appeared in the Nederlandse Top 40. Enjoy the song’s 3D-animated video and spice up your day! Gers Pardoel is an ideal option if too explicit lyrics are not your cup of tea.
3. The Opposites
This duo started rapping when one of its members, Willy, had to write a rap song as a punishment at high school. Apparently choosing to take rapping seriously after this experience was a clever move, as their party hit Thunder, for which they collaborated with Yellow Claw, has reached more than 21 million views on YouTube. That’s impressive if you consider the fact that the total amount of native Dutch speakers in the world is around 23 million. Do not miss their other big hit Slapeloze nachten, which has a very addictive beat.
4. Ali B
At the beginning of his career Ali B chose to use only the initial of his surname because this is how the media refer to criminals. Besides rapping, he has gained wide popularity as the host of a TV program and as a stand-up comedian. Ali B’s breakthrough was his break-up song Ik ben je zat, featuring rapper Brace, as well as his participation in Marco Borsato’s 2004 single Wat zou je doen. His recent hit Terwijl jullie nog bij me zijn has a slow tempo which makes its lyrics very clear and easy to understand.
5. De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig
De Jeugd makes a distinctive electronic rap music. They established themselves in the Dutch scene in 2005 with the big internet hit Watskeburt?!, which is a contraction of the phrase ‘Wat is er gebeurd?’. In their songs you will find a lot of references to nightlife, which remains their main theme and results in the use of particularly provocative language. Check, for example, the lyrics of Tante Lien and you’ll see what we mean.
Read more about Dutch pop-rap with the help of DutchReader:
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