bulgarianHip Hop Scene: Bulgarian hip hop has been in effect for almost 20 years, primarily beginning after the fall of communism. B-boying came on the scene first taking Bulgaria by storm and continues to play a major influence in the hiphop landscape. Rap was next in line as Avi MC dropped the first Bulgarian hip hop record, Problemi i Ekologia (Problems and Ecology) in 1989. This was followed up by the group Rap Nacia who delivered the first full album, Ocelyavat Samo Silnite (Only the Strong Survive), in 1992. Graffiti soon followed as the bombing of trains, streets and legal walls commenced, leaving DJing as the least developed element due to the high cost of vinyl and turntables.

Over the years, the breakers developed their own community throwing jams for all the b-boys to travel to somewhere in the country every month. However, they still maintain ties to the other elements as they still invite rappers and writers to perform. Some of the best crews include the internationally known Electric Force, who also organize the biggest Bulgarian b-boy jam called B-Boys Breakdown, Diablo Crew, Soul Award, Eazy Snatch, Express Our Soul, and Sleep Walking among others.

Today, illegal mp3s and rampant downloading has made it difficult to participate in the Bulgarian music business. However, despite this problem Bulgaria’s scene continues to grow and gain acceptance into the mainstream. In 2005, Music Mania (MM), the biggest Bulgarian music TV network, recognized DRS (Dope Reach Squad) as they won the station’s “People’s Choice Award.” Misho Shamara (a.k.a. Misho the Slap), owner of one of the more famous labels in the country (R ‘n’ B Records) is also planning a hip hop TV show to promote Bulgarian hip hop. There’s also a growing pool of underground including artists from the two big labels from Plovdiv – Udarnata Grupa (Hit Squad) and Sunrise Project, and mainstays like DRS, X-Team, Spens, Horata Ot Getoto (People From the Ghetto).

Sources: Special thanks to Mask One from 359Hiphop.com for contributing tracks and helping me with info.

Bulgaria is a small country with a rich history dating back to the late 7th century with the formation of the first Bulgarian state in southeast Europe. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People’s Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime.

The post-communist Bulgarian world faced economic hardships once it lost its relationship with a collection of communist states. The standard of living dropped 40 percent and the country faced economic collapse in 1996. However, since that year they have been on the road to recovery with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing at an average of 4%-5% each year. Plans are also in place for the country to join the European Union in 2007.

Sources: Wikipedia.com, CIA.gov, Frommers, Fodors, and Lonely Planet.

Date: December 18, 2012