Straight outta Olso, a Norwegian with attitude.
Hip-Hop connoisseurs are well aware that the times when the dopest joints were exclusively coming from the US are long gone, but I could never have guessed where my latest discovery in the genre would be coming from.
Although you may have never heard of him, Ivan Ave, an MC from Oslo, Norway, has been quite prolific these last couple of years and has been blessing our ears with smooth and mellow raps either through collaborations with his Oslo-based Mutual Intentions crew, a family of visual artists, DJs and musicians, with whom he hosted a Boiler Room set in Oslo in November 2015, or with other longtime collaborators such as Fredfades, a member of the Mutual Intentions crew, with whom he released a collaborative LP in December 2015, just to name a few.
In 2014, Ivan signed with the Berlin/Cologne based record label Jakarta Records and released a first EP called Low Jams produced by Mndsgn, which has been critically acclaimed. In February earlier this year, he teamed up again with Mndsgn and his intricate samples and drums to bring us his first Solo LP entitled Helping Hands.
His music is mainly inspired by the R’n’B and Hip-Hop of his youth as well as the jazz and soul music from which these artists got their inspiration from as explained by Ivan himself at the end of the fourth track of the Helping Hands LP. The artists he lists as references are Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman as well as John Coltrane. For example, the only song appearing on both the Low Jams EP and the Helping Hands LP is the last track called "Obedience" which contains a sample from Al Hudson and the Soul Partners’ song Lost Inside of You.
Ivan describes his rapping as honest and close to home and that his main concern is for his tracks to sound true. This is particularly well illustrated in the first single of the Helping Hands LP "The Circle" where he compares his life and career to a never ending circle using witty metaphors and puns to illustrate his struggles as well as his achievements and how things can appear to be working in cycles. This duality can be found throughout the Helping Hands LP where he also reflects on togetherness as opposed to the ego or freedom as opposed to belonging.
Unfortunately, if you are looking forward to catch Ivan Ave live on stage you might have to be patient since his Helping Hands tour 2016 with Mndsgn ended this February. Fortunately, we now have the Helping Hands LP and a new version of his track "I do" featuring Nanna.B to keep us waiting.