Adam Tensta is one of Sweden’s biggest Hip Hop stars who has been making waves internationally. He’s the subject of our latest 5 Questions and is also playing tonight in NYC at Webster Hall. Hopefully these will entice you enough to check him out!
5 Questions With Adam Tensta
1) Your name, Tensta, is the name of the project where you grew up. How big part does the projects and urban music coming from there play in Swedish street culture?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that coming from the projects is an essential part of the street culture in Sweden, but just as in the U.S. you have all facets of society represented in urban music. We do rep in some of it. Taking Tensta as my artist name, have definitely put us on the map. The fact that we are the underdogs, artists or all of us from the projects, I think represents an exotic element to the otherwise pretty homogeneous Sweden. We are the contrasts and you KNOW people can’t help but think that’s intriguing. Fashion, music, whatever, yes, we might not be the main influence, but we’re definitely there leavin’ our mark.
I remember this one time, when the booker refused to put my full name up on the posters for this one specific urban event, leaving out the part “Tensta” because he thought that it would attract the wrong type of clientele…
You do know that most of us living in the projects in Sweden are first- or second generation immigrants, right? Think color.
Around the world, people still expect a tall, blond dude when they hear a Swedish artist will perform at so and so.
2) We’ve heard that you’re interested in trends and fashion. What inspires your music and your style? And, how big is your imprint on Sweden, both style- and music-wise?
What inspires me as an artist are many of the same things that inspires me as a man, period. I don’t part one from the other, everything I see going on around me I try to put in my music and expressions, as unfiltered as possible. I actually was asked this very same question yesterday night by a kid who spotted me on my way home to Tensta. I told him that real life and the people in it inspire me, everything from sitting on the subway, just observing people from a distance to playing a football match on the PS3.
For me inspiration is a kaleidoscope, colors, forms and feelings that I try to put down on paper. Most of the time it’s unplanned and not so well thought through.
At first I didn’t think of myself as a trendsetter, but I’m slowly beginning to grasp the level of my influence on pop culture back home. My initial thought regarding my sound was that it was tailored for a very specific audience, but it ended up becoming so much broader than that. I got a kick when I heard that someone had said “I’m from Tensta. It’s A Tensta Thing” as a pickup line to a chick.
3) We understand that you’ve been around quite a bit this past year after a jam-packed Scandinavian tour last summer – Africa, California and now New York. How has that changed, inspired, improved you and your music?
As an artist I’ve grown. I have gained so much experience being in the public eye, from standing on stage basically every night for a year straight, to doing 10-15 interviews a week. I’m more honest, more direct, more confident. I think this even reflects in how I write my songs today. Now I know that people actually listen to what I have to say, I guess that the notion of that boosts me during my sessions.
As a man I’ve gained memories to last me a life time, I’ll never forget standing in front of an audience of 10.000+ people in Dakar, Senegal, or opening up for Jay-Z at the Globe Arena, the same arena I saw some of my favorite acts perform at when I was a kid
4) There’s an international version of your debut album – It’s A Tensta Thing – in the works. When will it be done and what we expect from that?
As of yet, I don’t have a deadline on the closure of the “album”, I don’t even know if I believe that the album concept is something I wanna do. Right now I’m just in the studio knocking out joints as often as I can, and scheming on how to really make an impact when we decide to go international. I can’t even begin to tell you what you can expect, cause I don’t even know yet. All I can say is that the sound is on fire and the lyrics reflects that kaleidoscope I mentioned earlier, it’ll definitely be material worth your time
5) You’ve said your lyrics are socially conscious. What are some of the things you rap about and how do you think New Yorkers can relate to that?
As I said before, I touch on subjects related to my reality. I call it like I see it, and I believe that honesty is a trait that’s instrumental in touching people past that first listen. If I manage to do so, I believe that you will understand that the struggle is the same all across the world. We all go through disappointment, injustice and heartbreak, so I would be surprised if you can’t relate to what I’m speaking on.