Turkish Hip-hopper Vardar's Satirical "Don't Panic"

by Imran Khan

12 February 2013

Recalling the controversy-courting diatribes of M.I.A, Vardar makes an offering with an at once unnerving, darkly satirical, offensive, splashy and downright fun tune.

Vardar’s first musical outing, a 2008 underground album entitled Piyasanın adamıyım, Piyasaya karşıyım, didn’t generate the kind of response he had hoped for, but it did help him to cut his teeth on the mechanisms of putting an album together.  In between composing radio jingles and music for short films, the rapper would take time to regroup and rethink his approach for the far more mature, daring and brazen work that would become Kötü Adam, his first proper commercial debut. Enlisting in the help of some key collaborators (Sinan Ceceli, Serkan Hökenek, Cüneyt Tatlıcı, respectively), Vardar would create a combustible blend of hip-hop and electronica that would melt speakers and rattle ribcages in Lamborghinis and nightclubs all over Turkey. Encompassing both the jetsetter cool reflected in the smooth, diamond-cut beats and the swagger and slang of an urban ghetto, Kötü Adam finds a musical counterpoint of shine and grime. Silver-tongued and sharp-witted rhymes are meted out with force as the rapper covers topics of love, hate, sex and violence in a city of cultural upheaval and harmony. 
On “Don’t Panic”, a cut from the album, the rapper’s vocoder-kissed vocals snake through the volcanic rumble of beats as he playfully, and rather satirically, trash-talks both his homeland of Turkey and the U.S. for the brewing troubles of the world. Some blasphemous themes and cleverly offensive word-play got this track into some hot water in Turkey (A Turkish phrase is deconstructed to sound like “Fuck America”), but it pushes as many boundaries as it does people’s buttons, which is what all good pop songs should do. If you don’t care for politics in your pop, however, then the pleasure-seeking rhythms and chewy lines of rubbery bass should still keep you happily engaged on the dancefloor.

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