It’s taken generations of hip-hop from America to influence a place like Amsterdam, where the culture was once non-existent. Now that rap has built an unsinkable bridge to Europe, MC Melodee is doing history justice, walking the path of New Amsterdam’s music trailblazers like MC Lyte and Eric B. & Rakim.
Carrying that torch is no easy task for a foreigner decades removed from 1980s New York but Melodee can take the weight because she doesn’t hold on to the fashion standards (i.e. gold rope chain, asymmetrical haircut, etc.) that would be synonymous with 1989–when MC Lyte made the original version of “CHA CHA CHA.” Instead she’s naturally gifted with Lyte’s raspy tone, a dead ringer for the sample of “2 Young 4 What” on the chorus. If she was from NY, she’d probably sound exactly the same and would have worked at Fat Beats NY (she has their Amsterdam outpost on her resumé). All speculation aside, though, Melodee is comfortable in her homeland. Watching her lamp next to the Amsterdam Canal in this video (shot entirely on an iPhone4) is about as luxurious as big pimpin’ gets.
Since 2010, Melodee has established herself as a voice for Amsterdam, performing at SXSW and around the globe from Africa to Japan. She’s not alone in her international arrival either. Melodee is joined by DJ/producer, I.N.T., and Spanish beatsmiths, Cookin’ Soul. I.N.T., who’s been down with Melodee creating the sound for their group La Melodia, shows her range as a singer on “Give It Up.” But it’s Cookin’ Soul that brings her full circle with her hip-hop roots in the States. Their flip of “Check Out My Melody” by Eric B. & Rakim follows her blueprint for golden era hip-hop. Big Size, Milton and Zock of Cookin’ Soul setup a jacking-for-beats scenario that calls for Melodee’s best performance over a rework of MC Shan‘s “The Bridge” followed by the seductive sample of Dennis Edwards‘ “Don’t Look Any Further.”
Melodee’s nostalgia for hip-hop’s nascent years is a beautiful thing. It’s formative time, as fun and exciting as it was, is still fresh in her youthful demeanor—she smiles, and is confident in paying homage to hip-hop pioneers. Watch her grow like a plant and soon bear fruit for Dutchmen (and women) of Amsterdam’s future.