Hip Hop and Rap in the Netherlands: The Dutch Scene


Hip Hop and Rap in the Netherlands

Hip-hop and rap music have found a unique home in the Netherlands, where Dutch artists have crafted a vibrant and diverse scene known as Nederhop. Since its early days in the late 1980s, Nederhop has evolved to encompass various styles and influences, with artists often blending traditional Dutch elements with contemporary international sounds. This fusion has led to a rich and captivating musical landscape that continues to flourish in the Netherlands today.

As Dutch hip-hop and rap began to take root in the Netherlands, many artists initially performed in English. However, with the rise of local talent from 1986 onwards, the underground scene witnessed a shift as musicians expressed themselves more frequently in their native Dutch language. This transformation allowed the artists to develop a unique identity, creating a distinct space for Nederhop within the global hip-hop community.

Netherlands’ hip-hop festivals and events have become increasingly popular, showcasing both international and homegrown talents. Notable Dutch artists such as Lil’ Kleine, Boef, and Ronnie Flex have emerged as significant players, demonstrating their versatility through collaborations and creative projects. The growing appreciation for Nederhop reflects the country’s commitment to embracing and celebrating its musical heritage while championing innovation and artistry.

Hip Hop and Rap in the Netherlands

History of Dutch Hip Hop and Rap

Inception in the 1980s

Dutch hip hop, also known as Nederhop, originated in the 1980s as hip hop and rap music created by Dutch-speaking musicians in the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium). The foundation of Dutch hip hop and rap can be traced back to 1986, with the emergence of musicians in the Netherlands attempting to mimic the style of American hip hop. During this time, the Dutch hip hop scene was in its infancy and heavily influenced by the success of American rappers. In the late 1980s, Dutch hip hop began to develop its own identity, distinct from its American counterpart.

Influence of US Rappers and Zulu Nation

The early Dutch hip hop scene was significantly influenced by American hip hop, especially artists like Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy. In addition to these well-known names, the Universal Zulu Nation – an international hip hop awareness group founded by Afrika Bambaataa in the late 1970s – played a vital role in shaping the Dutch hip hop culture. The Zulu Nation introduced elements of breakdancing, graffiti, and DJing to the Dutch community, which helped to establish hip hop as a multifaceted art form in the Netherlands.

Rise of Dutch Rappers in Their Own Language

One of the first groups to create hip hop music in the Netherlands was Osdorp Posse. Although they were inspired by American rap songs, they chose to perform in Dutch, adding authenticity to their music and paving the way for future Dutch rappers. This decision greatly contributed to the development of the Dutch hip hop scene, as more artists began to embrace their native language in their music. Utilizing the Dutch language in their lyrics allowed artists, such as Ali Bouali, to achieve both critical and commercial success. Today, Dutch hip hop continues to gain popularity in Europe, with artists such as Lil’ Kleine, Boef, and Sevn Alias becoming household names in the Netherlands and beyond.

Influential Dutch Hip Hop and Rap Artists

Osdorp Posse and Extince

Osdorp Posse was a pioneer in Dutch hip hop, achieving commercial success and exerting great influence on the Dutch hip hop scene. Extince is another early influential Dutch rapper known for his fresh and unique style.

Brainpower and U-Niq

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dutch rappers like Brainpower and U-Niq entered the scene. Brainpower is celebrated for his intelligent lyrics and versatile flow, while U-Niq’s style showcases creativity and raw energy.

Ali B, Appa, and Negativ

Ali B emerged as a prominent figure in Dutch hip hop during the 2000s. Appa and Negativ are also well-known artists from this time, renowned for tackling social issues and delivering engaging performances.

Commercial Success with Postmen, Baas B, and Lange Frans

Postmen, a band from Rotterdam, found commercial success by blending various music styles such as reggae and hip hop. Baas B and Lange Frans were also widely popular Dutch rap artists during the 2000s.

MC Miker G and DJ Sven

During the 1980s, MC Miker G and DJ Sven gained traction with their catchy tunes like “Holiday Rap,” which played a significant role in establishing Dutch hip hop.

Contemporary Dutch Rappers

Today, the Netherlands music streaming charts are dominated by Dutch rap music artists like Boef, Josylvio, Broederliefde, Lil’ Kleine, Snelle, and Sevn Alias. Other notable names include Ronnie Flex, Lijpe, Jonna Fraser, and Bokoesam. These contemporary Dutch rappers have carried the torch, further expanding the hip hop scene in the Netherlands.

Dutch Hip Hop Subgenres and Influences

Gang and Hardcore Rap

Dutch hip hop incorporates various subgenres, one of which is gang and hardcore rap. This style emerged as artists sought to express their experiences and struggles in urban Netherlands. These Dutch rappers use aggressive lyrics and hard beats to discuss issues like crime, violence, and social inequality. A notable shift occurred when artists began rapping in Dutch, enabling them to better resonate with local audiences and showcase Dutch culture and identity.

Underground Scene and Mixtapes

Another important aspect of Dutch hip hop is the underground scene, where many aspiring artists release mixtapes. These self-produced, often free projects showcase their talent and help them gain recognition. Mixtapes have played a crucial role in the growth and popularity of Dutch hip hop, allowing artists to experiment with different sounds and styles while bypassing traditional music industry constraints.

Blues, Gospel, and Social Commentary

Influences from genres like blues and gospel can be found in some Dutch hip hop music. These styles contribute to the emotional depth and thematic diversity of the lyrical content. Additionally, Dutch rap often incorporates social commentary, addressing topics like poverty, discrimination, and political issues. This blend of musical influences and lyrical depth contributes to the richness and cultural significance of Dutch hip hop.

Regional Impact on Dutch Hip Hop and Rap


Amsterdam has significantly influenced the Dutch hip-hop and rap scene. Ali Bouali, perhaps the best-known rapper in the Netherlands, hails from this city. The city has embraced the cultural values of hip-hop to create a unique identity in the genre. Several anti-racist protest songs were released following the murder of George Floyd, like “Geen Westrijd” (“No Competition”) by rappers Akwasi and Bizzey. Amsterdam echoes its multicultural spirit and open-mindedness in its rap and hip hop scene, making it a melting pot of various artistic expressions and talent.


Rotterdam’s hip-hop and rap scene has been on the rise, with artists abandoning a traditional music production style to include innovative and experimental beats. A notable name in this space is U-Niq, a rapper hailing from Rotterdam who has made a significant impact within the Dutch music scene. This city has become home to several underground and independent rap artists, pushing boundaries and expressing their artistic freedom.


Utrecht has also left its mark in the Dutch hip-hop and rap scene. Yukki B, a rapper from Utrecht, is one of the early pioneers of Dutch rap in the late 90s and early 2000s. Over time, Utrecht has nurtured and developed a thriving underground rap culture. The city’s rappers and hip-hop artists draw upon its rich cultural history, often incorporating local dialects and perspectives in their music to captivate listeners.

Popular Dutch Hip Hop and Rap Festivals and Concerts

Best Kept Secret

Best Kept Secret is a well-known festival in the Netherlands that offers a diverse lineup of genres from indie, electronic, to hip hop and rap. This three-day event takes place in Hilvarenbeek and attracts thousands of attendees each year.

Amsterdam Dance Event

The Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is a massive five-day electronic music conference and festival. While it primarily focuses on electronic dance music, it also includes hip-hop and rap lineups. ADE hosts more than 2,000 artists in over 100 different venues, making it one of the largest music events in the Netherlands.

Dekmantel Festival

Dekmantel Festival in Amsterdam is known for its electronic music, but has also featured several hip-hop and rap artists in the past. The festival is held across multiple stages and showcases a vast array of styles including house, techno, and experimental music, along with an impressive selection of rap and hip-hop acts.

Milkshake Festival

Milkshake Festival, held in Amsterdam, is an annual celebration that promotes diversity, love, and freedom of expression. While the lineup usually leans towards electronica, there is typically a mix of hip-hop and rap artists as well. With multiple stages and a vibrant atmosphere, Milkshake Festival is a premier destination for live music in the Netherlands.

Upcoming events:

  • Concerts: Check for tickets and tour dates of hip hop and rap concerts in the Netherlands.
  • Festivals: Stay up-to-date with the festivals happening in the Netherlands.

Lowlands Festival

Lowlands Festival, also known as A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise, is another popular multi-genre music event in the Netherlands. Taking place over three days in Biddinghuizen, it features twelve stages and offers a wide range of music styles including rock, indie, hip-hop, and electronic. While the festival is known for its diverse lineup, the inclusion of rap and hip-hop acts adds to the unique atmosphere of this event.

Rap and Hip Hop’s Influence on Other Dutch Music Genres

Pop Music

Dutch hip hop, also known as Nederhop, has played a significant role in shaping pop music in the Netherlands. The fusion of rap and catchy melodies has resulted in a distinctive sound, attracting younger audiences and making Dutch hip hop more accessible to the mainstream. Pop singers have also collaborated with Dutch rappers, further blending the genres and styles. This partnership has broadened rap and hip hop’s impact on Dutch pop music, leading to a unique blend and a new level of popularity.

Dance Music and Trance

Since hip hop’s early days, dance music and trance have also been influenced by Dutch rappers and hip hop artists. Producers have incorporated rap and hip hop elements into their beats and remixes, energizing dance music with the spirit of Nederhop. The inclusion of rap and hip hop in dance and trance music has not only propelled these genres into new territory but has also allowed them to gain wider appeal and relevance in the Dutch music scene.

Techno and Family

Techno music has long been a dominant presence in the Dutch music landscape, and the influence of rap and hip hop has not gone unnoticed in this genre. Many techno artists have been inspired by the unique sound of Dutch rappers, incorporating hip hop elements into their own music. By combining these genres, techno and its sub-genres have evolved into diverse branches, creating new styles that engage a wider audience.

In the context of the “Techno Family,” the incorporation of rap and hip hop elements has contributed to a broader musical landscape that embraces various styles and influences. As Dutch hip hop continues to evolve and shape other music genres, the Techno Family will likely remain an integral part of the Dutch music scene, demonstrating the far-reaching power of rap and hip hop.

Dutch Hip Hop and Rap Culture Impact

DJ and Turntable Culture

DJ and turntable culture play a crucial role in Dutch hip-hop and rap. This scene’s emergence can be traced back to underground movements in the 1980s, with Dutch-speaking rappers gradually gaining popularity in the Netherlands and Flanders. DJs and turntables are significant in the development and evolution of Dutch hip-hop, as they provide a platform for self-expression and give the performers a unique voice.

Turntables have been essential in shaping the sound of Dutch hip-hop. DJs use them to create beat mixes and showcase their mastery over music. Several Dutch DJs have made a name for themselves within the international hip-hop community, demonstrating their skills in various competitions and performances. These DJs have substantially contributed to the Netherlands’ diverse musical landscape and helped connect young people across the country through shared cultural experiences.

Fashion and Style

Fashion and style are also integral to Dutch hip-hop and rap culture. Clothing brands and streetwear have always held a prominent position within the hip-hop scene. Dutch artists and their fans often use fashion as a form of self-expression and identity assertion, reflecting their musical preferences and personal sentiments.

As Dutch hip-hop gained popularity, local brands and designers capitalized on the cultural movement to develop unique styles that resonated with young people. Fashion trends within the Dutch hip-hop scene mirror global hip-hop trends, but they also incorporate elements of traditional Dutch clothing and design to create a distinctive aesthetic.

Dutch hip-hop and rap have not only made an impact on the music scene, but they have left their mark on the country’s fashion industry, as well. Young people who engage with the hip-hop culture can express themselves through clothing and accessories, reinforcing their connection to the genre’s history and essence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Top Dutch rap songs?

Some popular Dutch rap songs include “Back By Dope Demand” by KING BEE, which was a Top 3 hit in the Netherlands and won The Edison Award for Best Dance Product. Other well-known tracks by Dutch artists like Lil’ Kleine, Boef, Ronnie Flex, and Josylvio have also made waves in the scene. However, the popularity of songs can vary over time, and preferences differ among listeners.

Best Dutch rappers?

There are several talented Dutch rappers that have gained popularity and respect in the industry. Some of the best-known artists are Lil’ Kleine, Boef, Ronnie Flex, Josylvio, and Lijpe. It is essential to note that taste in music can be subjective, and there might be other lesser-known rappers who are equally talented.

Famous Dutch hip-hop groups?

Dutch hip-hop has seen the rise of various groups, although many of the most famous artists are solo acts. Some hip-hop groups like De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig have gained prominence in the Netherlands and have a dedicated fan base.

Popular Dutch female rappers?

There are several emerging Dutch female rappers who have made a name for themselves in the industry. Some popular artists include Roxeanne Hazes, Tabitha, and Latifah. As the Dutch hip-hop scene continues to grow, it is expected that more female rappers will gain recognition and contribute to its vibrant community.

Influence of Dutch rap in Europe?

Dutch hip-hop and rap have made a significant impact on European music, and artists from the Netherlands are often recognized for their creativity in blending rap with other genres, such as rock, metal, and reggae. This unique sound has allowed Dutch hip-hop to stand out and help shape the European rap scene. Furthermore, the Netherlands’ geographic location and cultural connections have contributed to the spread of Dutch rap across Europe and beyond.

Dutch hip-hop in the global scene?

Rap and hip-hop originated in the United States, but the genre has become a global phenomenon, with artists from various countries adding their unique perspectives and styles. While Dutch hip-hop is not as dominant as its American counterpart, it has a dedicated following and significant influence within Europe. As Dutch artists continue to innovate and experiment with their music, their impact on the global hip-hop community is likely to grow.