Joel Dwek & Danny Wiser
FINLAND: 247365 - JVG
Updated: Mar 8
What the novelty pop-rappers lack in musical talent, they make up for high-energy and a sense of humour
Pop-rap isn’t a genre I usually get along well with. It’s not always terrible, but when I like rap it’s usually on the more serious and experimental side of the genre, and when rap is mixed with pop, it’s often those elements that are, understandably I might add, left aside. That said, I was intrigued as to how the Finnish rappers would approach the genre, but to some extent my preconceptions of 247356 were met. Songs like 3raitaa were particularly annoying, what with its incessant repeating of the word 'Adidas' which made it seem like a Finnish version of Gucci Gang. The title track was, to me, rather obnoxious sounding and repetitive, and I did not enjoy it a great deal. However, it is hard to know how much of it is serious and how much of it is tongue in cheek as I do not understand Finnish. The album artwork depicts the duo, and gives the impression that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Furthermore, the music of The Lonely Island is pretty mediocre if you ignore the brilliantly witty and satirical lyrics, and thus I feel like I can’t be too harsh on the JVG lads. Wikipedia does list comedy hip-hop as one of the genres they produce so I’m willing to give them a degree of benefit of the doubt. But aside from the songs I found annoying or musically boring, it’s generally listenable and inoffensive. At no point listening to this album was I blown away by their musical talent or their rapping, but songs like Mauton Jasso and Tuulisii are nice enough, and if you like rap more than I do, it’s probably rather good.
“I can’t pretend it is genius musically or that it has beautiful lyrics, but it’s catchy and very listenable, and pretty much exactly what one wants from Finnish pop-rap.”
That said, despite finding most of the album average at best, I really love the song Tarkenee, which has been stuck in my head for ages now. I can’t pretend it is genius musically or that it has beautiful lyrics, but it’s catchy and very listenable, and pretty much exactly what one wants from Finnish pop-rap. Well, it’s pretty much what I want from Finnish pop-rap. Takajeejee and the funky Silmät Kii are of a similar vibe, and they are the other songs I find most enjoyable, but Tarkenee is on a whole other level. In general, the album is OK, yet I have to recognise my own biases and state that it is in a genre I have little affection for, which I do not listen to very much. Aside from the aforementioned Tarkenee, which retains a Dil-Dil-Pakistan-by-Vital-Signs-esque level of frivolous enjoyment, it was otherwise alternately average, fun, and irritating.
I have to say I echo Joel’s thoughts on this album, except with one major caveat. I love it. Yes, that’s right, this sometimes obnoxious and irritating album, which demonstrates close to no musical talent, is completely and utterly up my street. This is for one simple yet totally irrational reason - Finland. Whilst having never even visited the Scandinavian haven, I feel like I have had a brilliant, albeit bizarre, early insight into Finnish people and Finnish culture. This is due to the fact that over two years ago I had the honour of living with an amazing Finn whilst I was studying in Prague, and ended up meeting a disproportionately large number of Finns whilst living in the Czech Republic.
Finland was a country of which I had almost zero preconceptions about before meeting my incredible former flatmate. I knew that Finland would often rank high on tables assessing both happiness and quality of life. I was pretty certain Nokia was a Finnish company and in terms of famous Finns, I could name a handful of sports stars including Kimi Räikkönen and Sami Hyypiä (who, to my delight, I have since found out used to babysit one of the Finns I met). That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge aside from when it came to the topic of Finnish music in which I was aware of Lordi and Darude; although I could only name one song between the two artists. It therefore came as a surprise that over the course of six months I discovered so much niche information about a country I rather mistakenly thought was ‘normal’. For example, did you know that the word for Biro pen is kuulakärkikynä? So much useless wisdom like this has been seared into my skull and will remain there until I die, and I wouldn’t change anything about that.
To describe Finnish people as ‘weird’ would perhaps seem xenophobic; my intention is far from that. I say it as a term of endearment. I don’t believe that it is typically right nor fair to generalise people’s personality based on their nationality. However, in the case of the numerous Finnish people that I have met, I feel like I must make an exception to that rule. It became more and more abundantly clear that, as a whole, many of them do indeed subscribe to these stereotypes which were previously unbeknownst to me. It is said that the Finns are an awkward and introverted bunch, this is what makes JVG’s album 247365 and the very fact of its popularity so hilarious to me. Their mock ‘gangsta’ approach is literally the antithesis of what I imagined popular Finnish music to sound like.
When I first heard a JVG track it was after I made a request to be shown Finnish music whilst in the car on a road trip through Austria with friends from Spain, Germany and of course Finland. Having had the expectation of being shown a soft folk track as my first introduction to Finnish music, it can be considered even a massive understatementto say that instead being presented with the song Paluu Tulevaisuuteen by JVG was an enlightening experience. The song, which means 'Back To The Future', became the ultimate earworm and I was unashamedly annoying people with it wherever I would go for at least a year after that. Part of the reason that I loved it so much was that I could not tell if it was ironic or not. The idea of the duo trying to amp up a crowd of shy Finnish people whilst headlining at a concert or festival remains quite an amusing image in my mind. However, what I truly love about this track, is that it reminds me of quite a hedonistic and carefree period of my life, which although I am not seeking to repeat, brings back many fond memories.
When it comes to the album 247365, there are also things I find enjoyable not just out of irony nor for nostalgia’s sake. I do genuinely believe it functions perfectly as a work-out album. I have stuck it on to accompany me doing exercise on several occasions over the course of the past couple of months. Both its fast beat and its whimsical tone make time feel like it is flying. Mauton Jasso (which I am reliably informed is Helsinki slang for ‘nice arse’), Taakajeejee and Tarkanee (which translates as ‘I am not that cold’) are incredibly fun songs; the latter of these arguably more catchy than the JVG track that made me fall in love with the duo back in 2018. Meanwhile, I genuinely think that Tuulisii serves as quite a sweet slow rap song that I was able to enjoy without any snarky cynicism about Finnish rap being ‘uncool’.
I love the fact that, whilst the album does of course have many faults, I believe the artists are wholly aware of that and are not trying to make a masterpiece, but are simply having fun. This energy is transferred onto the listener and I can imagine that were I to understand the Finnish language better, perhaps I would get a whole other layer of enjoyment that could come from the lyrics. That said, apparently much of it is incomprehensible even for a Finn as it is full of east-Helsinki-slang. Nevertheless, I am told that this is really vivid and sounds very funny next to the everyday-Finnish which that is commonly used. Overall, I love this album because I love the memories of my life in Prague that it reminds me of, I love its upbeat dynamism and most of all I love how it makes me think of my close friend, Kaisa, who although I have not been able to see for a long time the album strangely makes me feel connected to her despite being many miles apart.