Alvarado, one of the freshest artists on the Danish hip-hop scene, gets the crowd jumping by rapping for one and all.
by Uday Kapur and Elizabeth Waind, photos by Laura Urbonavičiūtė
Alvarado, originally from El Salvador but raised in the United States and Denmark, has a refreshing and empowering take on rap that aims to be inclusive for all. She grew up surrounded by musical influences from three different continents. “My mum, when we were alone at home, used to play an eclectic mix – from Spanish rock to Madonna,” she says. “That exposed me to a lot of different sounds and taught me how to appreciate them. However, it was only when I moved to San Francisco that I started listening to hip-hop.”
Despite growing up on the West Coast –home to the sounds of g-funk and gangster rap made popular by Dr. Dre, N.W.A and Tupac Shakur– Alvarado gravitated towards to gritty, minimalistic sounds represented by the East. “I’m heavily influenced by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and Mobb Deep,” she says. “As a culture, hip-hop provided me with the freedom to express myself. Artists like Lil’ Kim were unapologetic about who they were –that appealed to me.”
In what’s considered stereotypically a male-oriented genre, Alvarado wants to make sure the women in the room are not forgotten, with some of her lyrics carrying a clear message of female empowerment: “All hail to the queens, where in the hell have you been, tell ’em this my shit, mami gon’ run that shit.”
“I think sometimes the women are forgotten… I want my music to be for men and for women, I want to combine both of them. I want to include women and want them to know that they’re not gonna die in a mosh pit,” she laughs.
Performing on Friday evening on SPOT’s Radar stage, Alvarado is one with the audience, her lyrics speaking clearly and meaningfully to the crowd. She creates a friendly and comfortable dialogue, keeping the audience on their toes and making for an intimate and personal performance.
A gorgeous, wide grin pops across the rapper’s face as MC Black Daniels records on his camera phone from the behind the decks. A warm fuzzy feeling hovers over the room; this girl has charm. And as she leaps up and down, the mic clutched to her mouth, we leap with her. Alvarado is an artist that oozes confidence –comfortable and proud of who she is and what she represents. She’s equally adept at going hard on the mic and taking a step back when the beat demands it.
At the end of her performance, we ask her about the future of female MCs in the hip-hop game – “It’s going to be beautiful,” she replies. With artists like Alvarado at the forefront, it’s tough to argue against that prediction.