State Award for Public Information 2020: Paleface and Esa Salminen

Paleface and Esa Salminen.

Rap artist Paleface (Karri Miettinen) and author Esa Salminen for their work, Kolmetoista kertaa kovempi – räppärin käsikirja (Thirteen times harder – the rapper’s handbook).

Choppaus, flossaus, jäppäys and fäträttäys. Kolmetoista kertaa kovempi – räppärin käsikirja is full of foreign words and rappers’ jargon. The 500-page block of a book is also a work of chronicling and journalism, as well as a handbook in rhythm, rhetoric and financial matters. The work is the first handbook of its kind to be written in Finnish, and it takes its mission seriously. 

One of the authors (Paleface) is an experienced rapper. He has approached the topic from the inside. The work contains some first-person narratives, as well as sections written in the third person. A career as an artist has doubtless opened many doors and allowed the authors closer access to their subject than they would have had as outsiders. Despite its insider credentials, the work critically examines the negative sides of rap culture, such as sexism and crime. 

The work speaks directly to the reader – the young, wannabe rapper – occasionally with paternal advice and sometimes brimming with the self-confidence of a rapper. The book is also convincing to less likely readers with its comprehensive and familiar approach. An anecdote about a rap workshop at a reform school is a reminder of the importance of doing something meaningful: the personnel at the reform school were puzzled when newspapers began disappearing from the break room. The young people had realised that if they wanted to learn to rap, they needed to expand their vocabulary. There were even rumours of a visit to the library.

Kolmetoista kertaa kovempi shows the reader the path of rap culture from being a subcultural phenomenon that began on the margins to reaching the top of the charts and enjoying mass appeal. It paints the big picture, setting out many small details along the way and providing the reader with a wealth of understanding and food for thought.

Photo: Jaakko Lukumaa.

You might also be interested in