'T Hof van Commerce ("the chamber of commerce") is one of the exponents
of the wave of "Frithop" groups that made a breakthrough in Flanders
in 1998. This scene is a bunch of hiphop groups who are rapping in their own language.
The most peculiar thing about 't Hof van Commerce is the fact they rap in the
dialect of West-Flanders, the coast province of Belgium. This makes them hard
to understand by the average Flemish or Dutch people, but this "gimmick"
could also be accountable for their increased popularity. The weirdness factor
The group is more "old school " than ABN, but
not as plainly commercially oriented as for instance KIA.
Their raps are not as politically spiced, but generally very funny. As Levrancier
said to "the Mix" (who did an article on Frithop on March 11, 1998)
"We don't keep our mouths shut, though. Maybe we haven't been born in
a slum, but if something has to be said, we won't back out. We rap about everything
: our school experiences, women, drugs, Satan, God, The Middle Ages, you name
it. But mainly we rap about how good we think we are".
In the spring of 1998, a controversy in the press (and in the forum of this website
as well) broke out between fans of 't Hof and those of ABN. DJ 4T4 on this (in
RifRaf) : "that crap about ABN has got to stop. I've never even met these
fellows. I'm getting fed up with this shit about who's the biggest hip-hop-master
: I'm busy with hiphop for twelve years, so I know my classics by now. What's
more : you don't have to know anything about hiphop to produce good hiphop. The
music is about an urge for freedom. To mix hard-rock guitars with disco although
everybody tells you not to do it. But no ... you hàve to spray graffiti,
you hàve to skate, you hàve to wear airwalks ... bullshit. The respect
for the uniqueness of each person is one of the cornerstones of hiphop. And that's
what those so-called trendwatchers haven't figured out yet".
In the spring of 10998, a bit of a controversy stirred the reader-sections
of the press (especially in Humo, but even in the Forum of this website you'll
find tracesof it) between the fans of 't Hof and those of ABN.
DJ 4T4 about this (in an interview with RifRaf, July '98) : "All that
bullshit about ABN should really stop now. I never even met these blokes. That
crap about who is the bigget hiphop-head, is seriously getting on my nerves. I've
been busy with hiphop for over 12 years now, so I do know my classics. And you
don't even have to know anything about the genre to make good hiphop. There's
an urge for freedom in the genre. To be able to mix hard-rock guitars with disco,
although everybody says you can't. To say you hàve to spray graffiti, and
you hàve to sake to be real ... that's all bullshit. The respect of the
individuality of each & everyone is one of the foundatins of hiphop. But that's
a concept these so-called trendwatchers haven't really grasped yet, or so it seems."
Their first album "Izzegem" (after their own town.) was received
very well by the Belgian media. The song "Domistik & Levrancier"
was on the "heavy rotation" list at Studio Brussel and got through to
the Afrekening very quickly. The second single "Zonder niet" was equally
succesful. The CD was sold at more than 7,000 copies, quite a big number for a
Belgian hiphop-band, and a welcome injection for their small alternative Ghent-bases
label Kinky Star (of Danny Mommens, de bass-player from dEUS).
In the meantime, two of the members of the groups had ambitious side projects
as well. Filip Cauwelier plays bass in the group of Jan Leyers (formerly of Soulsister)
called My Velma.
DJ 4T4 (aka Kristof Michiels) also has numerous side projects, such as Kamikaze,
Yutakasa, Cosmic Relief (they released a movie soundtrack containing one song
of 70 minutes) and his solo projects with thousand-styles Magik Ballet Ensemble,
and the crazy rappng superhero Atomic.
Due to high demand, the second album came about after only a small year (there
was some rumour that bza would do it on his own, but the others joined in) : "herman".
With guest-raps of Lickweed (of De Puta Madre in
french on "Le mental en métal"), TLP, Stijn Nijs, NBM and 4T4
(with an accent from Limburg on "ze woare der nog nie grij voor"), inventive
beats and varied lyrics, 't Hof knew to better it's status in hiphopcircles (although
they probably lost some pop-public on the way there). Singles were "Mag et
ntwa mjir zin",
(with a dirty-talking choir of local ladies).
As Flip Kowlier later said : "We were doing too much gigs. And because
the first album had been quite light-hearted, we wanted to show we were serious
about it. So .Herman came somewhat too fast after the first one, and became a
very dark very serious album. After that I became depressed for a while".
Flip Kowlier started a solo-career then, in a totally
different mood, but the band is still working together and confirms that there
will be a third 't Hof album in the future.
Band members :
- Flip Kowlier (aka Leverancier) (vox & "musical superbrain")
- BZA (buzze) (vox & "Entertainment genius")
- DJ 4T4 (vierenveertig) - Turntables
Buy CD's of this band at
- En in Izzegem (Kinky Star, 1998)
- Herman (Kinky Star, 1999)
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