Most domestic pop acts can’t wait to leave and explore new markets. After all, singing in English expands your potential audience 200-fold. But in the case of this country’s favourite rap duo, or at least the act the Danes love to hate, it has taken over ten years.
Nik & Jay, now in their 30s, in mid-January released ‘Live 4 Today’, their first ever single in English. The single is an expansion of their strategy to move beyond the Danish market, first demonstrated by the inclusion of three English-language songs on the 2012 album, Engle eller dæmoner. The English single follows their decision to sign with music giant Sony Records in Germany – a move that has already seen them open for Jennifer Lopez. The big time beckons; the question is are they ready?
Certainly, they’ve been preparing for this for several years. It is well known the pair are among a number of Danish celebrities who have taken American English classes specifically to succeed Stateside. Mads Mikkelsen is another, and it worked for him.
But their new song suggests they might have some way to go. The first double-take comes in the first verse. “Fold out your ears” suggests more of a cartoon influence than a Compton one.
And it gets worse. Their girls are “sweet like French toast”, they’re “fresh like toothpaste” and it “feels like 100 on the freeway”. Is that imperial or metric?
And then they commit two cardinal sins: never remind America you’re a foreigner (unless you’re Sting in New York): “All the chicks be asking: ‘Where you from?’– because I spit with an accent”. And never ever mention tennis in rap: “I’m like John McEnroe in his heyday.”
And the video isn’t much better. It’s a throwback to the bird-flipping, joint-smoking, ass-shaking, graffiti-spraying, police-hating, pistol-pumping gestures of the generic German MTV ghetto music videos that were all the rave in the ‘90s.
“This is once in a lifetime,” they sing in the first verse. It might turn out to be the only savvy line in the whole song