With the minimal production of J Dilla, the lyrical wit of Das Racist and the sonic flair of MIA, it’s no surprise the Berlin-based rapper has racked up just shy of a million YouTube views for her signature track ‘Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools’. What’s more surprising is that until relatively recently she’d barely heard any hip-
hop atall.

Growing up in a small Bulgarian town close to the borders with Greece and Turkey, Dena still remembers the day MTV first started broadcasting. Before that she had to rely on the few tapes her father had managed to obtain on the black market, having himself grown up under communism. “A lot of the music my parents’ generation experienced was actually Russians covering Western bands,” explains Dena. “It’s so crazy. They believe it’s a Russian or Bulgarian song but actually it’s something super-famous by Gershwin or somebody.”

Full piece in NME, 8 March 2014.