A Polish rapper goes from scandal to superstar

Warsaw – Concerts by some of the world’s biggest stars have been held in the vast areas of Warsaw’s Bemovo Airport. Michael Jackson played there. Madonna did too. Metallica too.

But last Saturday more than 30,000 people — many young teens, with their parents acting as mentors — crowded together next to the runway waiting for a new star to take the stage: Michal Matzak, a 21-year-old rapper with bleached-blonde hair and a constant grin, better known as Mata.

“He’s like a representative of our generation,” said 20-year-old student Joseph Altas, who had come from Gdynia, more than 200 miles north of Warsaw, for the concert.

Zuzia Vaskiewicz, 19, agreed, sharing a bottle of flavored vodka with a friend: “She’s the first person to talk to us about real things.”

When Mata appeared at 8 o’clock, it was clear that he was speaking to the younger generation in the audience: one of the first tracks of the night, “Blok”, went out of his parents’ house and partyed with his new neighbors. was about to bother. Then Mata played a song for marijuana, followed by a tune about drinking on concrete steps leading to the Vistula River in Warsaw. The crowd rapped with every word.

Mother’s influence has been inevitable in Poland. Earlier this year, one of their tracks, “Kiss Cam,” was streamed so many times, it appeared on one of Billboard’s global charts—a first for a Polish act. When last Friday he released “Malody Matzak” (“Young Matzak”), his second album focused on his early adulthood, it immediately topped the country Spotify charts. Many of his songs have been viewed more than 50 million times on YouTube.

But one specific track marked Mata’s explosive entry into Polish cultural life two years earlier: “Petointeligenja” (an amalgam of Polish words for pathology and intellectuals). More than extra production, Mata paints a picture of life as a student at Beterie, an elite high school in Warsaw, where many students are expected to press for admission to the world’s best universities. In his telling, some students are quietly studying for their final exams. Instead, they are using drugs, alcohol, and sex to cope with the pressure. “My friend wanted to spend all his father’s salary on drugs,” raps mother, “but his old man was earning enough to try and kill himself.”

“Patointelignecja” became a sensation as soon as it appeared on YouTube in December 2019. Cyril Rozwadowski, an editor for New Ones, a Polish-language popular culture website, said, “It was such an unprecedented event, I hardly think about it. Now a song.”

Newspapers and TV shows began to use the track to debate both pressure on Polish youth and issues of privilege, such as whether or not an apparently wealthy child like a mother should rap. His views often reflect the political divide in the country. Poland has been in a culture war for years, with liberals on one side and the ruling populist Law and Justice Party and its conservative supporters on the other, facing issues such as gay rights, abortion and even the rule of law.

Some conservative sections of the media, including the country’s leading government-run TV station, presented Mother’s track depicting the laxity of the liberal elite. He regularly stated that the mother’s father is Marcin Matzak, a lawyer and academic known for his strong opposition to the policies of the ruling party.

On her new album, Mata features a tribute to a lawyer in Poland called “Papuga,” or “Parrot.” His father has welcomed the association by releasing a book titled “How to Raise a Rapper” this year.

A few hours before the airport concert, Mata said in an interview at the plush office of her record label that she liked to scam. “I’m a little addicted to adrenaline,” he said, as an only child. He wanted attention. At times, he feels “more like an internet troll than a rapper,” he said.

But he insisted that he had not written “Patointelligenza” to cause a stir when he was 18. He typed it on his phone during his final year in battery, when he “just had a major breakdown.” The three-year relationship was over, he said, and he was overwhelmed by the stress of exams and his teachers, saying he was headed for failure.

One day, he skipped class and went to a Cafe Nero, where he poured wine into a coffee shop while searching for a beat on YouTube. When he found the music for “Patointelligenza”, the lyrics erupted with anger. “It was just a stream of consciousness, all these bad feelings coming out of me,” he said. “Even now, I get excited when I think about that moment. I felt alive.”

Later, when his father picked him up, his mother gave him a tune. He said the song was like a “cure” for his breakup. Soon he was writing his first album, “100 dini do mature” (“100 Days to Final”), which critics later called a farewell to his childhood. He managed to graduate.

He said, “Malody Matzak” – released last Friday – is primarily about his new life as an adult, but also includes a track bashing Polish political figures who have criticized him and his father. was criticized. There is a song about his grandfather, who died this year as one of the complications of COVID-19. At one of his funerals, Mother got up to sing, and the pianist asked for her autograph, he said.

Critics in Poland are talking about their new album as much more than Scandal Mongering. Bart Strawski, co-author of a series of books on Polish rap, said he liked the duality of the mother. On the one hand, he is “an angry young rapper full of alcohol and weed.” Strawski, on the other hand, said he is “a soulful and sensitive child” who is writing unusual songs filled with “incredible sociopolitical details”.

Mata said he is enjoying fame in Poland, but he hopes to find success outside the country as well. He was wondering whether to try to rap in English, he said, but if he did, would keep a “tough Polish accent” to stand out.

At the concert on Saturday, Mata’s ambition was clear, staging the show with the help of a theater director. During one song, he is joined by about 20 dancers in Polish folk costume and red balaclava. For another talk about submissive sex, he stood in the middle of a giant block of lights while a group of dancers took off his top and sprinkled cream on him.

After about two hours, it looked like there was little spectacle left, and the only hit left to play was “Patointelligenza.” But instead of singing, Mata ran off the stage, jumped into a blue helicopter and flew away. The crowd waited for about 10 minutes, asking if he had actually gone, but Mata left to find his next brawl.

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