Can we Compare New York’s Hip-Hop Scene to Viking Skalds of old?

Hip-hop has captivated audiences worldwide with its beats, lyricism and raw energy. It’s undeniable that New York is the centre of this modern-day movement, but is this the first time that witty poetic lyricism has been a popular form of musical expression? Skalds were said to poetically pass on histories, traditions, legends and codes of conduct by infusing them with lyricism and turning them into a performance to inspire their fellows.

This article will attempt to draw a comparison between modern-day hip-hop and the traditions of the Viking Skalds.

The influence of New York rappers

New York rappers have played a pivotal role in shaping the hip-hop landscape, pioneering innovative styles and setting trends that reverberate across the globe. Their lyrical prowess and distinct sound have left an indelible mark on the genre’s evolution.

From icons like The Notorious B.I.G. to Jay-Z, these trailblazers embody the heart and soul of New York City, infusing their music with gritty authenticity and street-smart storytelling. The influence of New York rappers is undeniable, having inspired fans to create websites like where you can read the storied histories of New York’s most famous and infamous hip-hop artists. New York is more than just an important place for hip-hop, it’s where hip-hop found its voice.

The influence of Skalds on Viking Society

Skalds, the esteemed poets and storytellers of ancient Norse society, held a profound influence over their community. These skilled individuals wielded their poetic prowess not merely for entertainment, but also to shape the beliefs, values and behaviors of the people around them.

Through their intricate verses, Skalds preserved the history and cultural heritage of their society, immortalizing legendary tales of heroism and valor. Their artistry extended beyond mere words; it encompassed the power to inspire warriors before battles and instill a sense of identity among the Norsemen.

Comparing the modern with the ancient

Drawing intriguing parallels to Viking Skalds, modern-day hip-hop artists stand as contemporary storytellers, shaping culture through their lyrical compositions. Just as Skalds used their verses to convey cultural nuances and historical narratives, hip-hop artists utilize rhythm and rhyme to express societal issues, personal experiences and insights into modern life.

Both share a common thread in their ability to influence the masses, whether through recounting ancient sagas or addressing present-day struggles. While the mediums and contexts differ, the fundamental role of transmitting ideas and emotions through poetic expression remains unchanged.

Yet, where Skalds often performed within tightly-knit communities, hip-hop artists leverage technology to reach a global audience, connecting diverse individuals through shared rhythms and resonant words.