TVTonight, The Best Of Raymond van het Groenewoud put Groenewoud in the spotlight, with his top five most popular songs according to Flanders. Among the guest artists, there is also a place for Antwerp rap star Slongs, who owes a lot to the rocking cabaret artist. “He believed in me when I didn’t.”
Slongs (43) met Raymond in 2016. In honor of the Flemish holiday on July 11, a major event was organized at the Grote Markt in Antwerp, where van het Groenewoud (71) is also programmed. He really wanted Slongs to help him vocally during Vlaanderen Boven’s 1978 song. “Raymond didn’t know it himself, but he helped me get out of a dark period,” explains the Antwerp rap star. “During that time, I suffered from burnout, and then also – out of nowhere – panic attacks. It’s hard to put into words exactly what I felt, but believe me when I say it was intense. It all seemed to stem from a fear of failure. I’ve achieved A huge hit on my first album, so my second release had to be on the same level. At least: I push myself – without realizing it myself. As a result, I ended up getting more and more rain to drop, until I couldn’t drown more. Then I got to a point where I no longer had any self-confidence. I thought of myself as being zero fat and fat. I had absolutely no idea how to write a song. I had a writer’s block from here to Timbuktu.”
“But exactly at that moment, when I was getting deeper into it, I got a call from Raymond,” Slongs continues. Then he asked me if I wanted to do a Vlaanderen Boven song with him. For me that was an incredible boost. I mean: at a time when I completely stopped believing in myself, someone like Raymond did. That gave me another push in the right direction. If he believed in me Why not – even if I didn’t see it myself at the time – too? It also helped me that our collaboration went really well, and then he asked me to compose a song together.”
In the lead up to that song – “Bonestaakdans” – Slongs were given carte blanche creatively. This translated into a particularly smooth studio session. “After two rounds, it was perfect for Raymond. And he meant it, because then I was allowed to go on tour with him. It affected my confidence a lot, just like the conversations we had during training moments. Then Raymond said the right things to me without him knowing. And he let me I read. At some point, for example, he gave me a book on Sufism, a Sufi branch of Islam. The point of Sufism is to get to know yourself better, and that helped me a lot. It might have been crazy for Raymond to realize that now, but it was for me” .
Slongs and Raymond also maintained their friendship after that. “After Bonestaakdance, I asked Raymond to participate in one of my songs, ‘What You Do Me’. There is a lot of respect between us. When I was asked to honor him during ‘The Best Of’, I thought it was great at first. Raymond meant a lot to me, This way I was able to return the favor. Only then did I realize that I had promised to do a song to raise Raymond with “Je Veux De L’Amour”… for the director himself. But I really enjoyed doing it. And I got to know Sandra Kim through this. Win Win! (Laughs) “
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