First Scratch: Ivan Ave is Europe’s Best Kept Hip Hop Secret

Say what you want about the internet, but it gave hip hop the wings and hammers to overcome geographical boundaries. What counts for ASAP Rocky´s and Drakes early H-Town influences outside of their home cities has an even wider range around the globe.

I know a few things about international hip hop, but when it comes to capable quality rap the sight is less sunny than a winter night in Scandinavia. There are the likes of the Estonian trap lord Tommy Cash, Swedish purple drank fan Yung Lean and Germany’s clone of any rap ridiculousness Money Boy for mindless pleasure. However, when it comes to international releases that refuse to simply aim at this generations meme-philosophy, there is much room left for improvement like the skill set of a one-dimensional dunker in the NBA.

That impression changed quickly when I stumbled across Norway’s rap equivalent to a classy Clyde Drexler cradle dunk and all of Europe’s best kept rapping secret Ivan Ave.

When I first listened to Ivan, I pictured a man spitting his way through the nights of the 90´s New York City concrete jungle, based on his heavily soulful and boom bap inspired sound. His poetic rhymes, filled with double entendres and analogies for (midsummer-) days where blasting through my speakers in a matter that was implying his intention to transfer Common´s legacy from Like Water for Chocolate into the present day. Ivan’s lively stories can’t help but make one feel like whenever a new Spiderman — movie drops — there is a pleasure of rediscovery and familiarly at the same time. Never in the world did I expect to see a typical Scandinavian guy when I saw his moving images that take an even further trip down vintage lane with their equally lovely and crappy VHS-home recording style.

Not lastly since Richie Rich do we know that neither looks nor heritage show ones true soul, so who exactly is this guy from overseas with an unconditional love for present day nostalgic and rhymes to kill any Brooklyn corner cypher and college poetry slam alike?

The 28 year old, formerly known as Ivan Average, is an elementary school teacher for music, English and cooking in the morning. He is a soul, jazz and funk record collector at day ever since he caught the hip hop bug when he got his hands on a scratched CD of The Fugees’s classic The Score album as a child. At night these passions merge, along with a dedication to mastering his craft as an MC that had Ivan tirelessly creating new projects, most notably his debut solo EP Low Jams. Through his background it becomes sample-clear that only a true student of classic black music could come up with a song like I Do, his most recent release.

After a promo tour through Europe last winter Ivan put out his newest project From Helping Hands, acquirable on vinyl and, what else did you really expect by now, cassette. Magically soulful as ever the eleven track composition had Ivan once again teaming up with LA beatsmith Mndsgn, whose west coast fingerprints are all over this project. Most notably Free Shit will likely become your spring night’s soundtrack, while Find Me pt. 2 displays that Mr. Ave studied the art of the genres great storytellers.

If your heart hosts at least a glimpse of love for a modern rap renaissance then Ivan Ave will definitely be your go-to source for the spring time and beyond. His constant creative outputs and dedication prove that boundaries and distance are only restrictions of the past, simultaneously teaching rappers a thing or two about overcoming any obstacle for your dreams. No matter where you are from rap only knows one mother tongue — the language of dopeness.

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