Pop-hop is not exactly a genre thick on the ground in the Balkans. For one reason or another, the good people of the region tend to go for either of the two components of this sub-genre. You know, keeping it real. Or maybe, keeping it simpler. You see, pop-hop Balkan artists do exist. But they need to walk the very fine line between bland mainstream pop, gritty hip-hop and that unfortunately influential regional musical secretion, known as turbofolk. Luckily, Bosnian artist Amna found a way to walk that finest of lines.
Now, some people out there might object to describing Amna as a Bosnian singer. Not that is should really matter, but still. This is the Balkans. Best we clear this up right now so we can focus on her music. Amna Alajbegović was born in Graz, Austria. She spent her childhood in Bosnia-Herzegovina but then moved to Serbian capital Belgrade.
Talent show baby
It is therefore no coincidence that Amna also made her music debut in talent shows on Serbian television. Nevertheless, seeing as a number of Bosnian sources describe her as such. She never challenged this and a fair number of her songs reference Bosnia-Herzegovina. So, at least for the purposes of this show, Amna Alajbegović is a Bosnian pop-hop artist. There.
Born 2001, Amna is a fully-fledged representative of the digital age musician. Gone are multi-album deals and weeks-long recording sessions. She is an entertainer of the 21st century, prominent on social media and with a respectable following. More to the point, you will not find her on old-farts networks like Facebook or Twitter. Typical of her generation, she prefers Instagram and TikTok. Obviously, YouTube and Spotify streams are a must, as is near-constant touring in venues big and small.
In a very real sense, Amna-the-artist is a product of reality shows. She first made people notice her at the age of 14, winning a teenage talent contest on Serbian Pink TV. And for those of you not in the loop, Pink TV is not some progressive all-inclusive channel, but rather a music TV replete with turbo-folk musical rejects. It is also very influential and as such frequented by bona fide stars and artists from all over the region. Which proved fortunate for the up-and-coming Amna back in 2015 and probably informed her somewhat complex relationship with turbofolk music as well.
Streaming to fame
Following her teenage breakthrough, however, Amna soon took another lap on the reality-show circuit. She partook and won the first edition of IDJ Show, a competition that promised to invest a combined one million euro into the careers of twelve promising young artists. Other than the award money, Amna also got a regional hit that continues to rake up streams and downloads.
In line with the fact that streaming services are the name of the game, Amna has a grand total of zero albums to her name. That might change in the future, but for now she is apparently happy with millions of plays and downloads on various streaming services.
One of the reasons Amna lives and works in Serbian capital city is the very simple fact that Belgrade is where it is at. But she spends a lot of time in her native Bosnia-Herzegovina, both privately and touring. She also collaborates with other Bosniak artists. One such example is a track titled Prodji Sa Mnom Bosnom, which she recorded with a Mostar-based artist Albino and which is a nod to Bosnian language and culture.
Check out Amna of YouTube, Spotify and wherever you get your music from and Balkan Express will be back next week.
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of, you guessed it, the Balkans. Forget gusle and tamburice, this show is about rock, pop and a sense of humour. Well, at least there’s guitars. On air most Tuesdays in a new-and-improved time-slot at 1100 hrs. Usually. Your train conductor is Aljaž (aka @pengovsky) who once did the world a solid and decided never to sing again in public. Which is why he ended up doing radio.
TuesdaysWith : Aljaž Every Tuesday at 10.00
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of the Balkans.