In case you’ve been sleeping on it, Iceland has a robust hip-hop scene, filled with mesmerizing treasures, many performing in Icelandic. Songwriter and engineer Ragna Kjartansdóttir, better known by her stage name, CELL7, prefers to keep it old school, sticking to English for her rhymes, which she’s compared to singing opera exclusively in classic Italian. This Nordic icon’s words are as intense as her strong and soulful flow. CELL7 got her start in the ‘90s as part of the pioneering group Subterranean, earning herself a reputation as the First Lady of Icelandic Rap — she’s so legendary, she’s even appeared in her country’s post-lockdown tourism campaigns. She leads a trio that mixes delicate grooves and tough vocal jabs, with a no-BS attitude and incessantly danceable production. Kjartansdóttir’s sound continues to evolve and deepen: her latest single, "It’s Complicated" is a joyful rollercoaster of funkiness, with the artist, singing, rapping and getting down.
Biography by Elizabeth Chorney Booth