Nils Rune Utsi, better known as Slincraze, is a hardworking Sami rapper who dreams of one day breaking through and making it big. Despite his talent and ambition, he has everything against him. He comes from a tiny, almost abandoned village outside Kautokeino, far above the Arctic Circle in Norway, and he raps in Sami, a language only 20,000 people understand. Slincraze is the focus of Arctic Superstar, a documentary that follows Slincraze’s struggles to break into the industry and prove that the Sami language is unique, interesting, and best heard through rap.
The history of the Sami people in Norway is complex. In the twentieth century, the Sami were forced assimilation at the hands of the Norwegian government. Sami culture barely survived this period, which in Norwegian is referred to as Fornorsking.
Arctic Superstar touches on the political and socio-cultural issues surrounding the Sami, but this is not the focus of the documentary. Here we follow the very talented Slincraze as he tries to make it in the industry, despite having everything against him. He appears to be very professional and tough, like most rappers, on stage, but behind the façade hides a man who had a difficult childhood with bullies. His friends are sure to point out that Slincraze began as a way to fight the bullies through music, and now those very bullies are in the front row of his concerts.
What makes Slincraze so likeable is his passion for the Sami language and culture. Despite the fact most people can’t understand his rap, he’s eager to perform in the language and promote his very special culture. Slincraze tells us that rap is not too far from Joik, the Sami form of song. He is proud of the language and wants to serve as inspiration for other young Sami.
Arctic Superstar has a lot of soul, personality, and is by far one of the best music documentaries to come from Scandinavia. Not only is Slincraze’s music really good (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like rap music), but Slincraze and his posse are likeable and quite funny. From their experiences at a hippy musical festival to the various interviews with Slincraze’s sweet mother, and to his entourages on-camera appearances, the documentary is incredibly enjoyable to watch. Director Simen Braathen has made an excellent documentary, based on his research into how hip hop is used in various cultures. If there is one image you take away from this documentary, it’s the last concert when the audience is dressed in traditional Sami costume and headbanging to Slincraze’s music. We get a new and rather refreshing insight into this culture, and it really is a welcome change to documentary.
Overall, Arctic Superstar is a downright feel-good documentary about a man with high ambitions despite having everything against him. The documentary shows that in order to get ahead you need courage, and Slincraze is the embodiment of this courage. A must-see at film festivals.