We’re returning this week to Poland, land of Łąki Łan and Dick4Dick, to introduce you to a hip-hop producer called Donatan, who just might be the Polish answer to Die Antwoord. And yes, Die Antwoord means “The Answer” in Afrikaans, so I just made a Afrikaans pun in my opening sentence. Fatty boom boom, bitches! If I didn’t have to stick around to tell you how frickin’ great Donatan is, I’d drop the mic right now.
Polish hip-hop actually has a rich and varied history (I know because Wikipedia tells me so)—but it has never, to the best of my knowledge, seen anyone quite like Donatan (which means “Donate” in Polish—his real name is Witold Czamara). In 2012, he released his debut album, Równonoc: Słowiańska dusza, which apparently translates to Equinox: Slavic Soul. On it, he enlisted a bunch of Polish folk musicians and singers, led by a pagan/medieval band called Percival, to record semi-traditional Slavic music over his beats. Then he brought in a who’s who of Polish rappers to drop rhymes on whatever the hell we’re supposed to call this stuff: Viking rap? Pagan folk-hop? Krakow trap? Slavschool? Whatever it is, it’s full of accordions and awesomeness.
Even crazier than the music on Równonoc are the videos, which mix the standard bitches-and-bling tropes of rap videos with pastoral scenes of Polish folk life and the witchy visuals of pagan metal. Instead of poppin’ bottles, these video vixens churn butter (at least I think that’s what they’re doing—I’m a blogger, not a farmer) and wander through the woods in druid’s robes.
Oh and by the way? This video, “Nie lubimy robić” (“We Don’t Like to Do Anything”), has gotten over 22 million views. The video for Donatan’s most successful track, a non-Równonoc cut called “My Słowianie” (“Us Slavs”), has been viewed 32 million times. To put that in perspective, Poland only has 38 million residents. His Polish-proud hip-hop/folk fusions are popular at home on a level that’s hard for us jaded American pop music consumers to grasp. It’s like if, at the height of the O Brother Where Art Thou? craze, T Bone Burnett and Alison Krauss had done an album with Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and Eminem rapping over “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Dueling Banjos”—and everyone, including your parents, had gone apeshit over it.
None of Donatan’s other clips achieve the same level of crazy as “Nie lubimy robić,” although “My Słowianie” comes close—thanks in part to the trying-too-hard-to-be-sexy presence of a singer called Cleo who is apparently Poland’s answer to Fergie. But they’re pretty much all worth watching. This one, for example, features fire-spinners, a wolf, a dude who apparently rolls up to the Renaissance Faire in a fucking Escalade, and the blue-eyed, butter-churning goddess of “Nie lubimy robić” (who, by the way, is a model named Luxuria Astaroth), this time wearing a blonde wig and blowing a huntsman’s horn in the most pornographic manner possible. Oh, and it also features maybe the best rapper on any Równonoc track, a skinny, bespectacled cat named Pezet, who has a mere 864,000 Facebook fans. Yeah, Polish hip-hop is for real.
And then there’s “Słowiańska krew,” in which Donatan and his homies knock back some grog while their fellow pagan villagers beat back a horde of chainmailed Christian invaders. At least I think that’s what’s going on. Or maybe it’s just all about how swords are cool.
I’m sorry, did I say none of Donatan’s other clips are as crazy as “Nie lubimy robić”? Let me correct myself. This one features two bald dudes rapping in full Braveheart drag. Talk about getting medieval on your ass.
P.S. Thanks must go again to our star Polish reader Paweł Serewko, who helped turn us on to enough weird Polish music to keep this blog going through most of 2014. Even though he says he’s not really a Donatan fan. He’s more into Krvavy.