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The Wacky World of the Earliest Rap in Dutch and its Surprising Relevance Today (Part 2)


by Romain Crutzen, May 25, 2023





Part 2: Danny Boy

The second rap track in Dutch is related to the most delightfully unlikely banger to have been championed in the selector scene.


Nowadays, the Dutch hit-charts are dominated by hip hop with Dutch lyrics by the likes of Boef, Lil Kleine and Snelle. Hip hop in Dutch gained traction in the early 90s, through artists such as Osdorp Posse and Extince — who started rapping Dutch after about a decade of experience in rapping in English. Extince and Osdorp Posse’s music has many thematic similarities to the current day chart-toppers. The earliest rap in Dutch was very different, however.

The first rap record in Dutch, Rubberen Robbie & Ko — “Hallo, Hallo, Hallo”, was released in 1979. The traits that define most hip hop such as lyrical depth, technical prowess and a rough street atmosphere were more than absent in the first Dutch rap records — the earliest examples of Dutch rap are simply ridiculous.

The second part of this series is about the second rap record in Dutch; Repper de Klep by Danny Boy

Diskomix
“Diskomix”, a song from 1983 by Danny Boy has gained traction in recent years in the selector sphere, a fact which was sealed by the inclusion of this song on Young Marco’s 2017 ‘Selectors 002” compilation, as well as appearing on a 2016 Psychemagik compilation — both featuring the instrumental version.

Danny Boy’s “Diskomix” is one of the writer’s favourite Dutch anomalies. Diskomix exists in between italo and boogie, drawing in listeners with a fat Roland TR-808 kick, a whimsical bell melody and soothing chords, only to be interrupted by wacky sound effects (achoo, miaw). In the vocal version Danny Boy, a 16-year-old, raps about making disco mixtapes in his room and annoying his dad by doing so.



The birth of Danny Boy
Three years earlier, in 1980, Danny Boy cracked the Dutch charts with a rap song heavily inspired by Joe Bataan’s Rap-O-Clap-O, a hit in the Netherlands at the time. With his first single as “Danny Boy”, the 13-year-old shook the scene with his lyrics about hating his classes and not wanting to do homework. The name ‘Repper De Klep”, the sleeve and the instrumental are clearly inspired by Joe Bataan, although the instrumental is original (and quite lovely — this tune also has quite a whimsical melody).

More recent Dutch Hiphop is also autobiographical and about struggles, often involving difficult relationships with parents. These struggles rarely involve having to do homework and dads complaining about decibel levels generated as a result of making disco mixtapes.



Joe Bataan’s version is only about dancing and not about struggle. Danny Boy already included this theme which would later become a mainstay in hiphop — perhaps Danny Boy is more of a pioneer than he is given credit for (probably not). Danny Boy is by all means what people would nowadays consider an ‘industry plant’. His father, Han Grevelt, was a very productive record producer and songwriter focusing on Dutch music.



To Han’s credit, both Danny Boy songs still sound great. “Danny” (actually Jolyon Grevelt) and Han have another song together which has aged considerably worse than the two Danny Boy singles. The duet “Jolyon & Pappa — Vertel me een Verhaaltje” (1975) chronicles little Jolyon asking his dad to tell him a bedtime story.

Jolyon seems to have stopped making music after Diskomix and seems to make his living nowadays as accountmanager at a workwear firm (clothes for builders and the like, not the fashionable hipster kind). His short flirt as a teen with the music industry has made a bigger splash than almost all of us ever will. Although his diving board was substantially higher than ours, one has to admit he dove off with grace, performing summersaults and corkscrews that are still talked about today.

Overview
The second rap song ever to be released in Dutch — Repper de Klep by Danny Boy — has probably had little influence on the current day hip hop landscape and is, in itself, not much more than a funny song with a pretty nice instrumental.

The only other Danny Boy release has seen a revival in recent years due to its timeless, 808-containing, production and quirky charm — which gives Danny Boy still some claim to relevancy.

Similarly to the first rap song using the language — “Hallo, Hallo, Hallo”, the lyrics are about struggles — one of the main themes found in rap lyrics nowadays. The struggles are hardly on par with current day struggles however; these early examples are about the hardships of being a radio DJ and having to do homework rather than about life stories and growing up in a rough environment. For many large and aspiring artists hiphop is seen as a way out of undesirable socio-economic conditions. This could not be said about the first Dutch rap tracks — they could be best described as record producers fooling around.

Danny Boy has the claim to the second rap track in Dutch with Repper de Klep. His only other release, “Diskomix”, is still enjoyed by DJs and dancers on many dance floors across the world — similarly to the Adams & Fleisner back catalogue.




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