Enzo Dong slams the cafeteria door and draws in the air the fork that separated his friends’ lives and his own. It was a newspaper double page from a few years ago. The same day his song was released Promises missed, with the mythical neo-melodic singer Franco Ricciardi, the face of one of his colleagues illustrated an arrest for drugs on the next page. He had also flirted with that corner world, paper and scooter. But the music was a social corkscrew. Today he is one of the emerging figures on the music scene. trap Neapolitan, perhaps the strongest in Italy of this genre. His last trip, in the middle of the pandemic, he did by private plane: from Secondigliano, one of the most depressed neighborhoods on the Neapolitan periphery, to the San Remo festival, the musical event that not a single Italian misses every year. The culmination of a paradigm shift in the music of the Neapolitan periphery that has been in the making for years.
Don Guanella, the neighborhood of Enzo (30 years old), is a mixture of broken dreams and hopes of a working class that saw the bullets of the great wars of the Camorra in the eighties pass by and that is still recovering from its wounds. One Wednesday morning, he and his girlfriend take pictures for the networks. Enzo wears a white ski mask. Then, with the poise it requires, full-face Versace glasses and a red Chicago Bulls jacket. The guy from the traveling greengrocer, who must have known you since you were a kid, raises his eyebrows in amazement. The kids look at him with their mouths open. They know topics like Higuain O Secondigliano reigns. He has 250,000 followers on Instagram. The base is a business built on the remnants of the “do it yourself” cultural utopia, absorbed today by the world’s leading record companies. “In Italian rap the background of street credibility. We have lived things that normally rappers in Italy saw only in American idols, “he explains.
Reality has been the visiting card of Naples in recent decades for any street art manifestation. A few blocks further, also in Secondigliano, in the celestial buildings, the neighborhood that served as the background landscape and aesthetic and cultural imagery of the series Gomorrah, producer and singer Vale Lambo has built an artistic world that has drawn from rap and neo-melodic song, the Neapolitan musical genre par excellence. Love and street songs, synthesizers, autotune and bad life, which functioned as the diary of a generation related to organized crime, which never dared to dream beyond Vesuvius. But something changed. “The neighborhood creates a tougher character for you. It is a breastplate that allows you to go forward. And we have been able to take advantage of it. Today we look beyond Naples ”, he says.
Vale Lambo (30 years old) has already released three albums with Universal —The first, with a group called Le Scimmie—, but he maintains control of his work without record interference. That’s the grace, he points out. The music changes so much that majors (Big companies), somewhat puzzled, already trust more the instinct of their artists than the experience of gray-haired producers. “I have been able to do everything I wanted. When I make music I want to feel free. If you listen Like the sea [su último disco], you won’t find anything like it ”. Something similar happens with the Neapolitan scene, which begins to find a great reception outside of Italy. “It is strong because the imagination of Naples is real. What the boys say in the songs is real. It is not a posture. It has a fair credibility. People don’t want contentless, fake stuff. They are valid content. The truth always wins. And then the Neapolitan dialect helps, it is a cut language. Sounds good whatever you say. There is no better language to sing. Even if you don’t understand it, it is beautiful, like English ”.
One of the main architects of the scene trap Neapolitan has been Enzo Chiummariello, a common suspect of the city’s founding rap with a supernatural instinct for youthful talent. Today it has in its portfolio 10 of the artists who have the most reproductions on the phones of boys between 17 and 25 years old. “The scene trap you need social media. It is all an imaginary closely linked to the image, to the aspirations. Everything they tell must have its translation in images, in the language of the networks. They are very important ”.
This representative was the architect of the trip to San Remo for a group of boys last February, who accompanied the artist Gigi D’Alessio. A turning point of a scene that is in a hurry to grow and not the slightest interest in staying in it. underground. “It was a great experience. To people who still did not know the trap Neapolitan liked it. I would say that we are reaching the commercial circuit. We see that the Neapolitan language, recognized by UNESCO, has cadences similar to English. It is ideal for singing. And seeing someone grown up in Secondigliano singing in San Remo is a total paradigm shift, for which series such as Gomorrah”.
In the Montesanto neighborhood, in the center of Naples, a closed, soundproofed basement with that scent of underworld humidity guards the new projects of emerging artists. Here Enzo Dong records, but also expanding musicians, such as Niko Depp. Of Romanian origins, he is one of the few artists who crosses the border between neighborhoods without asking for permission. Humble family, all the face tattooed, is a filter between the hatred that exists from one street to another and that sometimes marks the letters of the trap from the city. “Many times I put half the neighborhood at home while I write. I like to talk about them. They appear in the videos. You have to really live. Sometimes the people around me would add four life sentences ”. A source of inspiration, if you want, like any other.