WARSAW — The huge fields of Warsaw’s Bemowo airport have hosted live shows by a number of the world’s greatest stars. Michael Jackson performed there. So did Madonna. Metallica, too.
However final Saturday greater than 30,000 individuals — many younger youngsters, with their mother and father appearing as chaperones — crowded collectively subsequent to the runway ready for a brand new star to get onstage: Michal Matczak, a 21-year-old rapper with bleached-blond hair and a continuing grin, higher generally known as Mata.
“He’s just like the consultant of our era,” stated Joseph Altass, 20, a scholar who’d traveled from Gdynia, greater than 200 miles north of Warsaw, for the live performance.
Zuzia Waskiewicz, 19, sharing a bottle of flavored vodka with a good friend, agreed: “He’s the primary particular person speaking about actual issues about us.”
When Mata appeared at 8 p.m., it was clear he was chatting with the youthful era within the viewers: One of many night time’s first tracks, “Blok,” was about shifting out from his mother and father’ house and annoying his new neighbors by partying. Then Mata performed an ode to marijuana, adopted by a tune about drinking on the concrete steps that line the Vistula River in Warsaw. The gang rapped alongside to each phrase.
Mata’s influence in Poland has been inescapable. Earlier this yr, one in every of his tracks, “Kiss Cam,” was streamed so steadily, it appeared on one in every of Billboard’s international charts — a first for a Polish act. When final Friday he launched “Mlody Matczak” (“Younger Matczak”), his second album targeted on his early maturity, it immediately topped the nation’s Spotify chart. A number of of his songs have over 50 million views on YouTube.
However one particular observe marked Mata’s explosive entrance into Polish cultural life two years in the past: “Patointeligencja” (an amalgam of the Polish phrases for pathology, and intelligentsia). Over spare manufacturing, Mata paints an image of life as a scholar at Batory, an elite highschool in Warsaw the place many college students are anticipated to push for admission to the world’s greatest universities. In his telling, few of the scholars are quietly finding out for his or her last exams. As an alternative, they’re utilizing medicine, alcohol and intercourse to take care of the strain. “My good friend wished to spend his father’s entire wage on medicine,” Mata raps, “however his previous man was making a lot he would have killed himself making an attempt.”
“Patointeligencja” was a sensation nearly as quickly because it appeared on YouTube in December 2019. Cyryl Rozwadowski, an editor at New Once, a well-liked Polish-language tradition web site, stated “it was such a groundbreaking occasion, I hardly consider it as a track anymore.”
Newspapers and TV reveals began utilizing the observe to debate each the pressures on Polish youth and problems with privilege, like whether or not an apparently wealthy child like Mata ought to be rapping in any respect. Their takes usually mirrored political divides within the nation. Poland has for years been in a tradition conflict, with liberals on one aspect and the ruling populist Regulation and Justice Celebration and its conservative supporters on the opposite, dealing with off over issues like gay rights, abortion and even the rule of law.
Some conservative sections of the media, together with the nation’s predominant government-run TV station, offered Mata’s observe as showing the dysfunctions of the liberal elite. They frequently identified that Mata’s father is Marcin Matczak, a lawyer and educational recognized for his fierce opposition to the ruling occasion’s insurance policies.
On his new album, Mata has a tribute to him known as “Papuga,” or “Parrot,” slang for lawyer in Poland. His father has welcomed the affiliation, this yr releasing a ebook known as “How to Raise a Rapper.”
A number of hours earlier than the airport live performance, Mata stated in an interview at his document label’s plush workplace that he preferred inflicting scandal. “I’m a bit hooked on adrenaline,” he stated, including that as an solely little one he craved consideration. Typically, he feels “like an web troll greater than a rapper,” he stated.
However he insisted he hadn’t written “Patointeligencja” when he was 18 to trigger a stir. He typed it on his telephone throughout his last yr at Batory when he’d “simply had an enormous breakdown.” A 3-year relationship had ended, he stated, and he was overwhelmed with stress about exams and his academics saying he was heading for failure.
At some point, he skipped class and went to a Caffe Nero, the place he poured alcohol right into a espresso whereas trying to find a beat on YouTube. When he discovered the music for “Patointeligencja,” the lyrics angrily spilled out of him. “It was simply stream of consciousness, all these dangerous feelings popping out of me,” he stated. “Even now, I’m excited after I take into consideration that second. I felt alive.”
When his father picked him up later, Mata rapped the tune to him. He stated the track was like “the remedy” for his breakdown. Quickly he was writing his debut album, “100 Dni Do Matury” (“100 Days to Finals”), which reviewers later called a farewell to his childhood. He managed to graduate.
“Mlody Matczak” — launched final Friday — is especially about his new life as an grownup, he stated, nevertheless it additionally features a observe cursing Polish political figures who’d criticized him and his father. There’s a track about his grandfathers, who each died this yr, one in every of issues from Covid-19. At one in every of their funerals, Mata acquired as much as sing, and the piano participant requested for his autograph, he stated.
Critics in Poland are speaking about his new album as being excess of scandal mongering. Bart Strowski, the co-author of a series of books on Polish rap, stated he preferred Mata’s duality. On one hand, he “is an offended younger rapper crammed with booze and weed.” On the opposite, Strowski stated, he’s “a soulful and delicate child” writing uncommon songs crammed with “unbelievable sociological element.”
Mata stated he was having fun with fame in Poland, however hoped to seek out success exterior the nation, too. He’d been eager about whether or not to strive rapping in English, he stated, but when he did, would preserve a “exhausting Polish accent” to face out.
On the live performance on Saturday, Mata’s ambition was clear, with the present staged with the assistance of a theater director. Throughout one track, he was joined by about 20 dancers in Polish folks costumes and crimson balaclavas. For one more about submissive intercourse, he stood in the midst of an enormous block of lights whereas a gaggle of dancers took his high off and sprayed him with cream.
After nearly two hours, it appeared there was little spectacle left, and the one hit left to play was “Patointeligencja.” However as an alternative of performing the track, Mata ran offstage, jumped right into a blue helicopter and flew away. The gang waited round for 10 minutes, asking whether or not he’d actually gone, however Mata had left to seek out his subsequent controversy.