Since the early nineties youth in Roma urban communities around Europe have been creating a new, non-conformist identity by adapting the subculture of hip hop to local environment. Due to the quickly made parallels between Roma mahalas and American ghettos their interest in rap and its most popular godfathers quickly grew. It is rumoured fifty per cent of the audience at the Skopje James Brown concert were his Roma fans.
For at least a decade and half hip hop has been listened to and performed in the Skopje Roma municipality of Shuto orizari - Shutka, steadily gaining popularity among the local youth, who meet at the Roma “rap” studios, at occasional Roma TV hip hop competitions and at hip hop and r&b parties in the local disco. Rebellion and provocation are their salt and pepper. Subdued anger provides the heat.
The compilation I Shutka tani mo than (Shutka My Hometown) released by the FOSIM (Macedonian Soros) foundation in May 2010 has been the first ambitious presentation of the output of the finest Skopje Roma rappers, from their initial productions in the Roma demo studios (some recordings produced there were excellent) to the finish in the respectable Skopje studio ambient. It embraces diverse local Roma approaches to hip hop, from Roma ethno r&b to metal punk rap and Balkan Roma echoes of reggaeton.
In November 2010 I Shutka tani mo Than managed to reach the WMCE position 15 and in its year chart 2010 the position 118 (from 886 releases) – as a local Macedonian release without support of EU based major world music labels/agencies - and has received lots of positive response from the world music circuit.
Due to such warm feedback a live act has grown out of a studio project. Four of the essential compilation rappers from Shutka - the screwball Ne-Li, the elegant Al-Alion, the punkish, black-leather clad Error and the corpulent Fat Joe – are now (on home turf they use internet free hip hop loops & samples) backed by a Romano ethno rap band – drums, bass, trumpets, sax, clarinet. Shutka Calling got live and went on tour! No sleep (at least) till Roskilde and Sziget 2011...