Profile: Petter Stenqvist

Published: 2006-11-30 by Sebastian Tiger

Petter Stenqvist, alias PSTQ, is a rap artist with a sharp tongue and a successful relationship with language.

Hip hop is usually defined as a youth culture and encompasses breakdancing, graffiti and rap. Rap has its roots in Jamaican toasting, in which rhyming lyrics are chanted to a musical accompaniment.

Hip hop arrived in Sweden in the 1980s and groups like Just D and Latin Kings soon began rapping in Swedish. There has been quite a lull in the Swedish rap scene in recent years, but now things are stirring again: lots of new records are being released and we are seeing quite a few articles about rap and Swedish rappers in magazines and the daily press too.

One of the rappers who has been active for a relatively long time is Petter Stenqvist, alias PSTQ, from Gothenburg. Although his record production as a solo artist has been modest, having only released one full-length CD to date, he is still one of the more respected rappers around. His lyrics are written with thought and feeling, are often melancholy and on occasions really, really malevolent.

“What I write does cause some people to get irate and they are perfectly entitled to do so. I’m not afraid of conflicts myself.”

Easy to get started
Petter started rapping when the hip hop culture was new on the scene in Sweden. He had heard other rappers and thought "I bet I can do that too – and do it better". His role models were Ice-T and Public Enemy.

“It was easy to get started. I simply bought a record of background music and started rapping to that.”

Rap music often has a political message. Petter does not think that his lyrics will change the world, but he likes writing about what he sees, what annoys him and what interests him. The subjects vary from lousy music journalists ("En dåres försvarstal"), a surveillance camera’s searching eye ("Jag ser") to drugs ("Jag gör sönder mig själv").

“My lyrics probably have a more political slant nowadays. This hasn’t really emerged previously, which is rather strange because I am actually quite interested in politics. And, you know, there’s plenty to write about.”

Doesn’t wait for inspiration
His relationship to language seems to be fortunate. In the beginning, he used to wait for inspiration to come to him, but these days he works more methodically. He doesn’t hesitate to use words that many people probably find difficult, but he explains that it would be impossible to adapt language to what people might be expected to understand. He wonders where he would draw the line if that were the case.

PSTQ teams up with Organism 12 and DJ Large to form the group Mobbade Barn Med Automatvapen. As a solo artist, he has worked for many years with Looptroops DJ EmBee who writes most of the music for his songs.

“We are good friends personally too and find it easy to work together.”

Right now they are working on a new album and a lot of their time is spent in the studio.

Different cities – different rap
Rap is mainly a city phenomenon. Petter explains there is a difference between rap in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malmö, but that it’s not easy to put a finger on exactly what that difference is. The different regions of the country have different listening preferences. For instance, British hip hop has been very popular in Gothenburg, but has never enjoyed that popularity elsewhere in Sweden.

Petter thinks that far too little rap reaches the ears of Swedish listeners. He wishes there was greater and wider variation and also sees opportunities for rap artists to take up other genres.

“It’s virtually possible to rap to any kind of music – as long as it has a beat.
He feels now that rap has become more established it has lost its unruly energy. A great deal now depends on which path individual rappers and groups decide to follow. He hopes that they don’t all comply with the standard for how Swedish rap music is supposed to sound.

And perhaps it’s time to define the genre as something more than a youth culture now that both artists and audiences have passed the 30 year milestone.

Mattias Franzén


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