Move Over Gouda, Tulips and Windmills — Here Comes “Nederhop”

February 19, 2010 at 11:17 am | Posted in Europe, music, Netherlands | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

Though in the Netherlands we’ve noticed many music artists — rappers especially — these days seem to work in English, Osdorp Posse has been a notable exception. Five guys from the rough, outlying Osdorp section of west Amsterdam, they started out as a bit of a goof, actually, but ended up becoming serious stars on the Netherlands’ underground music scene in the 1990’s with their “Gangsterdam” sound, rapping not just in Dutch but more specifically in the Amsterdam dialect. Headed by now 31-year-old lead singer Pascal Griffoen (aka “Def-P” — think a Dutch version of Eminem), the Posse cranked out a dozen albums of material loaded with trenchant commentary on social issues, but because it’s often been a bit on the profane side, they got precious little play on commercial radio. In fact, beyond “A ten-Euro note is a joetje,” there’s little about this song, “Origineel Amsterdams,” that we can even translate for a family-friendly Web site, due to either profanity (don’t worry, though, the visuals are perfectly clean) or just plain trickiness in translating inside references. But let’s just say it’s a primer on Amsterdam slang relating to money, sex, prostitution, booze, and drugs, against a backdrop with some colorful glimpses of Holland’s best-known city. Osdorp Posse disbanded this past fall, but two key members have reportedly started another hip-hop group called Digibombers, with an album expected in 2010. Mijn gott, we can only imagine…


A Big Amsterdam Secret That Wasn’t: Our Lord of the Attic

December 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Europe, history, Netherlands | Leave a comment
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by Ed Wetschler

Any visit to the Netherlands in general and Amsterdam in particular offers plenty of evidence that tolerance — you might even call it an intolerance of intolerance — is part of the national character, from the famous smoke shops to the Red Light District. Those two examples, mind you, are not quite as “out there” as they once were, but even so, you will not confuse live-and-let-live Amsterdam with Salt Lake City — or even with the relatively freewheeling likes of London or Berlin.

This tolerance has long extended to religion, too — which I was reminded of on a recent visit to a quirky museum that’s one of Amsterdam’s oldest. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord of the Attic) has an offbeat history that evokes this country’s live-and-let-live ethic even in a stormy time in its history: it’s a 17th-century merchant’s house that once doubled as a “secret” Roman Catholic church.

In the 1500s, you see, the Netherlands was ruled by Catholic Spain, and the Duke of Alba took it upon himself to crush the Protestant Reformation in the Low Countries, an effort that did not endear the locals to Catholicism. Dutch Calvinists fought back, declared their independence, and — tit for tat — prohibited Catholic worship.

Enter Jan Hartman, a Catholic merchant. In 1661 he bought a canal house with two rear buildings, joined its attic with that of the other buildings, and created a “clandestine” Roman Catholic church. Except here’s how clandestine that church was:

  • Dozens of workmen—and prodigious quantities of materials—went into building and furnishing it.
  • Up to 150 worshippers would troop in and out of masses every weekend.
  • Eventually, the church even added a pipe organ—not the least assertive of musical instruments.

Now, didn’t any of those workmen snitch, or get loose-lipped over a glass of gin in some pub? Didn’t the neighbors—or the authorities–ever notice scores of families entering Hartman’s home every Sunday morning? Can we believe that no neighbors or passersby ever heard a peep from that mighty Wurlitzer?

For that matter, what had made Hartman so sure that Catholics could get away with this? I think the example of 16th-century Spanish and Portuguese Jews finding a refuge in the Netherlands didn’t hurt. Dissidents from England had fled to Holland for religious freedom, too. Americans know them as the Pilgrims, and one of the primary reasons they moved on to North America was not Dutch discrimination, but lack thereof — a fear that their children were (understandably) becoming too attracted to the tolerant local ways.

In any case, the “hidden” church lasted for 200 years. Catholicism may have been illegal, but the Dutch, characteristically, were loath to pursue the issue. Classic “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

In 1887 a Roman Catholic church opened at street level, and Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder upstairs soon became but a curiosity, then a year later Amsterdam’s oldest museum after the Rijksmuseum. Last year it purchased an adjoining canal house to accommodate temporary exhibitions, and now the original living and worshipping spaces are being restored. “The museum will remain open during all the works,” museum spokesman Hans Gramberg assured me. Thus, even when there’s work going on, folks can still visit this immense “secret” space and smile over the fact that such an imposing thing could ever have been considered “hidden.”

Admission is 7€ (US$10.4o/£6.30), but free to holders of the Amsterdam Pass; for more info, see, and just for fun, check out the fine panoramic renderings of the place — especially options #3 and #4 — at

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