Hip hop and rap don't have a long tradition in Slovenia. Interestingly, skier was among the first to bring this musical genre to Slovenia in the nineties, after he became familiar with it in the USA. His song Včasih smučam hit, včasih pa počas (Sometimes I Ski Fast, Sometimes Slow) was the first contact with rap for large Slovenian audiences and became a huge success. The first major stars of Slovenian rap music appeared on the scene at the same time – Klemen Klemen and Ali En (later renamed to Dalaj Eegol).
Although the hip hop music scene in Slovenia was quite simple until 2000, it is thriving today and Rok Terkaj is among its protagonists. He is an interesting young man with versatile talents. He is a rapper, hip hop musician, journalist, lyricist, twice winner of the Slovenian freestyle battle – in which rap artists compete with each other – and also a theology graduate and tourist worker … He is definitely an inspiration to the younger generation and an encouragement to the older one with his versatility.
Rok Terkaj, a Ljubljana local, is better known under his stage name Trkaj. He became involved with rap when he was seventeen years old. Perhaps childhood in Savsko naselje (Sava river settlement) – residential blocks in Ljubljana helped steer him in this direction. According to Trkaj, blocks have a unique charm. "But not really blocks themselves as the people living there. People gathered from all over, of different nationalities and different backgrounds. This definitely brings a lot of laughter and interesting events. Living in Savsko naselje has taught me to respect others, to be 'the little one', that not everything always goes your way; how to be a part of the team and that even the bad things bring some good. And also how to be resourceful."
It seems that 2004 was a turning point for him. He released his first album and walked the famous pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago in thirty days. There, as he noted at the time, he got to know himself. After he got home, he enrolled in the Theological Faculty in Ljubljana, which he completed successfully. "Of course, I find the connection between rap music and studying theology very interesting. Maybe the connection is that the origin of the Master of Ceremonies – MC – comes from the ecclesiastical world. At the councils, this was a man who gathered all the people and led the whole thing," he explains. "As for the field study, I went to study what interested me. It is interesting how many of the first Slovenian poets were priests and studied theology. Perhaps there is a connection, if we focus on our country."
Trkaj had released four of his own albums by 2014 and had written many lyrics for other performers. Some of these performers won awards at various festivals across Slovenia. And how does he see the Slovenian rap/hip hop scene? "The Slovenian hip hop is one of the rare living urban scenes in Slovenia. There are many songwriters and performers, concerts are happening, songs are released, but there are not enough places where young people could perform and no good infrastructure for young people to make connections and be successful. Slovenians received this music surprisingly well. The average Slovenian can certainly name some of the rap songs, and I think that we somehow won our spot on the map with patience and good songs, we exist, we are recognised, and this is part of our culture and accepted by our region."
Trkaj is a master of many trades. Currently most notable is his role as a musician and the founding leader of the Slovenian House Vida, which he runs together with friends. A Bed & breakfast house with 10 rooms and 24 beds, with an interesting wine cellar, which is very exciting for tourists and visitors.
Polona Prešeren, Sinfo