On June 1, 2010, a song by the name of Il-Paragun (the comparison) was posted on Effetti Kollaterali's YouTube channel. One of the prime movers on the local hiphop scene, Effetti Kollaterali's recorded output, effectively compiled on their Wanting 2 Die album, was mostly in English but featured Maltese interjections. Before the band imploded however, they had started to gravitate towards rapping in the mother tongue, and out of its ashes, spearheaded by Zdong, rose a new act by the name of Sempliciment tat-Triq!
Despite its links to Effetti Kollaterali - the song was produced by Mut and recorded by DJ Mac - Il-Paragun is widely regarded to be Sempliciment tat-Triq's first offering. According to Zdong, the song is a bold statement that represents what Sempliciment tat-Triq stands for. "I think it was a big step towards developing a sound that was closer to home as opposed to the Americanized style that was popular locally at the time", he explains when MikeBugeja.com contacted him for a comment on the occasion of the song's 10th Anniversary. "We believe in speaking about we experience in our lives. We speak it, we live it, we tell it like it is, using the language that the man in the street can understand and relate to".
Back then, however rapping in Maltese wasn't as widely embraced as it is these days. "Not at all, and I think Sempliciment tat-Triq changed the game in Malta", Zdong replies. "Hiphop became more street; the verses started to become more direct and hard-hitting. Some of the hiphop scenesters felt it was too street, while in contrast, this fresh approach was attracting new faces to the genre; people who felt they could actually relate to what we were saying".
So what was it that turned Zdong and Sempliciment tat-Triq onto rapping totally in Maltese? "Well, when we were in Effetti Kollaterali, we had already started experimenting with a number of freestyles that were pulling us towards rapping in Maltese. It's worth mentioning that, back then, some people from the scene itself didn't take us seriously because of it, but they all seem to have forgotten about that now that the Maltese language has established itself in almost every genre".
But doesn't this fly in the face of that old adage that music is universal! "It certainly does", Zdong responds with an impish smirk, "in fact we're very satisfied that against all the odds, we've proved that hiphop in Maltese can still appeal to non-Maltese speakers, and the proof of this is that we've rapped in Maltese on collaborations with international acts and the end result has still connected with foreign audiences".
Ten years on from Il-Paragun's original release, how important has the song remained to Sempliciment tat-Triq and to Maltese hiphop in general? "Naturally it means a lot to us because it is the song that introduced us to the local hiphop crowd" Zdong replies. "It's fantastic to see that it remains so popular with hiphop fans, and not just locally". Il-Paragun, it seems, has also struck a chord with hiphop followers abroad. "It has indeed, the audiences we've played to on our tours around Europe love the song. It practically became the standard-bearer for Maltese underground hiphop among our international counterparts".
No surprise then, that Sempliciment tat-Triq decided to produce a new video for the song in 2012. "Yes, we collaborated with the Malta Skateboarding Association, who we fully support as we do all other forms of street culture. The video is available on the ZdongTV YouTube channel". A year later, Il-Paragun was also included as the opening track on the band's debut CD release Qumu Minn Hemm.
Read our 2014 interview with Sempliciment tat-Triq here.
For more information about Sempliciment tat-Triq, click here.