Rise and Fall in the Digital Age
Overnight Danish rapper Kidd becomes a superstar and the gigantic success is impossible to handle. The documentary Kidd Life tells a universal story about a young man in his early twenties looking for answers. He is trying to figure out who he is and how to interact with other people in life.
Since the break through of social media and YouTube in the mid 2000’s, Danish musicians are reaching a big audience – without the little help of the traditional music industry. Every time the big question was, whether it was «the real deal» or a story constructed in the masterminds of a record company marketing department.
When the song of Nicholas Westwood alias Kidd «Kysset med Jamel» earned million of clicks in spring 2011, such doubts were part of the game. However, within the year that he torpedoed to the top of the Danish pop industry, all evidence pointed to the direction that this was a true story.
It was the fantastic and fascinating story about a little group of young pretty stoned grime and dancehall lovers, who set up a small studio in a left building, started tapping songs and uploaded them to YouTube and Soundcloud. One of the songs went viral, and within the next year the boys build their own independent record company, made one smash hit after the other and pretty much shaked the Danish world of pop. The productions were very raw, and the lyrics had clearly not passed any jury before published. But that was part of the charm.
Close-up on a Falling Star
It was an utopian tale of anarchists neglecting all rules. As they hit the spotlights they were automatically dragged into a world normally controlled by gatekeepers like cultural institutions, record companies and media, but they refused to play the game by the book. They raved on. The story is fascinating, but also sad. The wild and anarchistic elements that fascinated the nation, when Kidd and his friends hit the charts and neon lights, simultaneously dragged him down. It was a chaotic track of sex and drugs/alcohol and rock’n’roll. A stereotypical, yet always fascinating, mix when seen from the distance, but hard to bear when watching it happen next to you. In Kidd Life the latter is the case, because the hand-held camera was really close.
Trailer and Excerpt from Kidd Life
Merciless and Sensitive
Danish documentarist Andreas Johnsen followed the boys almost from the start. The choice of making Kidd the head character is obvious. Not only was he the first of the gang to break, he was also the strongest and most complex character. Born 1989 in Scotland, he is talented and bright, but similarly untamed and, as the story evolved, totally out of control. As the film shows, he had no idea about what he was doing, but he was doing it very well.
As time goes on he clearly loses his grips, not only because of the amounts of drugs and alcohol, but also because of the massive attention. In the film he constantly stresses that «Kidd» is a fictional character and a project, but such role playings are hard to control. This is a classic conflict among musicians suddenly rising to fame, but rarely as mercilessly and yet sensitively as in this film.
Nicholas Westwood Kidd
Director And Cinematographer: Andreas Johnsen
Film Editor: Rasmus Stensgaard Madsen
Additional Photography: Jamel Sundoo, Theis Mortensen
Sound: Rasmus Winther Jensen
Music: Cheff Records
Producer: Kirstine Barfod, Andreas Johnsen
Video by Kidd
Published on January 14, 2015
Last updated on January 16, 2020
Research librarian in the Music and Theatre Department at The Royal Library, Copenhagen. Henrik Smith-Sivertsen did his Ph.D. in 2008 on Danish cover version of international pop and rock songs focusing on ideas of authenticity and originality within rock culture. He has since both done ethno musicological studies of actual Danish popular music and historical research at Danish Folklore Archives. Since 2011 Smith-Sivertsen has been responsible for the popular music collections at The Royal Library, including its jazz archives.