Merel Pauw (27), or rapper Elmer, is in a beige seventies suit, without a sticky mustache, on the middle floor of Sexyland World. In a week’s time, a kind of space decor will arise on the ground floor, between the pink bar and the DJ set. And therein female rappers, non-binary hip-hoppers and mc’s will perform their music.
Party at Sexyland World
De Amsterdamse Pauw, actress (currently featured in Queer Planet of company HNTjong) and rapper, has loved hip-hop since she was a child in the car with her father listening to the Beastie Boys and Eminem at top volume. Her greatest musical love is MF Doom, she loves the Canadian electro goddess Peaches and the Belgian artist Charlotte Adigéry.
On Saturday 22 October during the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) she organizes her first party. “Because I wanted an evening that I would like to go to myself, and because there are so many cool female artists in the Netherlands that I secretly want to meet too.” She is a ‘super fan’ of everyone in the lineup, which features women and non-binary rappers and DJs like Babs, Mariposa, Suzooki Swift, Zulu Green and DJ OISHĪ. She thinks that artists are not seen enough.
“It really pisses me off that they are so little known. I find it bizarre that we, as such a progressive country, as a large hip-hop country that also leads a lot of Spotify top lists, pay so little attention to female artists.” It’s a man’s world, the rap, the hip-hop, still. Misogynistic too. Which, by the way, she herself hasn’t had much to do with until now. “I produce everything myself, rap myself. But I do hear from female artists that you have to work much harder. And there’s a lot of misogyny in hip-hop. Just in the lyrics.”
Hip-hop in theater, theater in hip-hop
But now she is among the greats at ADE with her party. And the artists she admires so much get the stage they deserve.
She herself has been working as a musician for a few years now. She played in bands at secondary school in Amsterdam, but since graduating from the Theater School in Arnhem she has also been trying to get hip-hop into the theater with the collective she founded with classmates: DIEHELEDING. “Rapping while you’re playing, faking is hard. It’s ten times faster than musical singing, but we’ve gotten really good at it now.”
Pauw also plays with gender in her performances. As Elmer she looks boyish, as Merel on stage she can put on a super feminine dress, even if it is mainly an act. “It almost feels like drag.” She identifies herself as a woman, bisexual, but doesn’t care much for girlishness. “If there had been more words for it in my adolescence, non-binary and pansexual, I might have called myself that. Now I mainly say queer, but I like all pronouns.”
Rewrite the rules
She has secretly dreamed of becoming a pop star all her life. During the first lockdown, she produced a first EP as rapper Elmer. Before that she made songs like About Touring, in which she sings about sex from a male and female experience, united in one person: ‘my skin is coming apart at the seams’. But also the number Your father, to which she gets shocked reactions. She raps “I’ll fuck your father without a condom.” “It scares men in particular sometimes. While I think: do you know how many gross lyrics male rappers make?!”
She doesn’t want to make concessions. “As a woman, do you want to change the current norm in the hip-hop scene by infiltrating the mainstream? Or do you create your own world with its own rules that becomes so big that the mainstream can no longer ignore you? I want to do the latter. The mainstream should go to Lil ‘Kleine, I think she’s really bad. I don’t have to convince them.”
She doesn’t want the number either Your father is seen as a response to the many motherfucker– or your mother-songs that are full of hip-hop. “I just like filth, I felt like making that song, I had a lot of fun with it. When you do things as a woman, it quickly becomes a political statement. I long for the day when it’s not a political statement, but I can just make it without being shocked.”
Promised land, ADE, Saturday, October 22, Sexyland World. Two more singles from Elmer will be released on October 28.
ADE in Sexyland World
Sexyland World, in the former restaurant Wilhelminadok aan het IJ in Noord, is one of the many official locations of the Amsterdam Dance Event. Except Promised Land, the evening with female and non-binary hip-hop artists on Saturday, is coming Wednesday a ‘as manic as possible program’ under the heading Night of the Reckless, says curator of Sociëteit Sexyland Jordi Ariza Gallego. Furthermore, the former night mayor Mirik Milan Thursday nightlife workshops, followed by the ‘Sexy Mess’ party. on Friday there is a party with more ‘legendary artists’, such as DJ Steven de Peven. Sunday will conclude with a jam session called Monkey Jam, and late into the night there will be Unnamed ADE, featuring artists Ariza Gallego says ‘they’ll be here for a while, but from next year they’ll be so well-known that we won’t be seeing them anymore. can book.’
Look here for the full program.