I Cani: the once obscure electro-pop persona now embraces Italian pop
“Ho paura di tutto, soprattutto dei Cani,” sings Niccolò Contessa on Glamour, the second and central album in the discography of his one man project. It translates to “I’m afraid of everything, especially of I Cani,” and it gives an idea of the complex love/hate relationship between a songwriter and the obscure electro-pop persona he started building six years ago and that reached way more people than he could have dreamed of.
The story of I Cani started in 2011 with the first album Il sorprendente album d’esordio de I Cani. Back then, no one knew Contessa’s real name, and he performed his live shows with a paper bag on his face. What everyone learned to know were his songs, written and produced in his bedroom; catchy synth-driven post-punk gems with brilliant and keen lyrics describing the contradictions of Italy and Italians, with a particular focus on the place where he comes from, a northern neighborhood of Rome.
Ironically, autobiographical elements and a taste for grotesque situations and characters were the keys that led his lyrics to be sung along by the whole indie scene. But he didn’t stop there. A few years later, he got rid of his anonymity and started pushing his career towards a new direction, somewhat close to cult ’80s Italian singers such as Lucio Dalla or Franco Battiato.
His latest album, Aurora, released in 2016, is a display of his newfound maturity. He basically revisits Italian pop. His songs become more conventional, the production hints to dance rhythms, his lyrics reflect his own personal growth. While some of his early fans were disappointed, Aurora is truly a great example of what modern Italian pop rock should sound like, but with the addition of occasional wild synths that he can’t seem to survive without.
cibils: mysterious trip-hop from Trento, Italy
cibils is from Trento, Italy and makes chill trip-hop. And that’s all the info I could find on this act – fitting for how mysterious and ambient the music plays out. Check out the entire EP, which is out now. All the tracks are strong.
Seeing how Milan has become a melting-pot of different cultures, it’s not strange to find that the most notable rapper in the city right now is of Tunisian origin. Reaching out from Baggio, a suburb in the western part of the city, Ghali Amdouni – simply known as Ghali – is quickly being recognized and respected in the whole peninsula.
Born in 1993, Ghali started getting into hip-hop at an early age, and by 2011 he had already formed his first hip hop group, Troupe D’Elite. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that he got the chance to grow out of the Milanese hip-hop niche by starting a collaboration with young producer Charlie Charles and establishing himself as one of the most interesting and experimental artists of the country. Dreamy trap beats, a wide use of autotune, and a certain overwhelming musicality are the defining features of his music.
While sometimes these traits seem to overshadow the lyrical work of the rapper, and old school flows are replaced by melodic tones that blend perfectly with the beats, Ghali still manages to bring his experiences to the listener in an endearing way. Occasionally mixing Italian and Arabic, he recounts tales of marginalization and prejudice while spitting rhymes about his life in the most sincere way possible, without hiding any detail or keeping any secrets.
Ghali hasn’t recorded a full album yet, choosing instead to issue a series of poignant singles. Tactically released with gaps of two-four months within each other, they’re all matched with impressive music videos. The imaginary he evokes is rarely a troubled one, in a ghetto-inspired manner. Instead, his videos are trippy, filled with childhood references and surreal settings, from the snowy landscape of Dende to the ethnically connoted desert of “Wily Wily,” one of his best tracks.