Yet another old but interesting article on German Rap by no other than the world-mufuckin-famous New York Times:
August 9, 2005
Germany's Rap Music Veers Toward the Violent
By ANDREAS TZORTZIS
BERLIN, Aug. 8 - Germany's most controversial rapper has five tattoos, stomach-churning lyrics, impressive record sales and, somewhat improbably, admirers among both immigrants and the neo-Nazi skinheads who rail against them.
He is also exceedingly polite and quick to refill a guest's glass of water, and he occasionally goes grocery shopping for his mom, with whom he shared an apartment until three months ago.
"In reality I'm a relaxed guy who likes to chill, who's funny and who's seen some stuff," said Bushido, 26, the son a German woman and a Tunisian man, whose real name is Anis Ferchichi. "But these people make me out to be the Devil."
In the past half year, Bushido and other gangsta rappers, largely from Germany's immigrant communities, have landed on a media watch list normally populated by right-wing neo-Nazi bands. They have attracted the wrath of politicians along with a following of hundreds of thousands of German youths mesmerized by their rhymes about dangerous neighborhoods, stab wounds and groupie sex.
A good 15 years after the music genre spread from the streets of American cities to tough neighborhoods from Rio de Janeiro to Marseilles, gangsta rap has hit it big in Germany, where tamer rap has been popular for years. Riding on the coattails of American rappers like 50 Cent and Eminem, German gangsta rappers have made a strong showing on the charts - where Bushido's last two albums have made their debuts in the Top 6 - and shaken a society not used to hearing ghetto tales of death and revenge in its own language.
German parents and the news media have expressed shock at hardcore lyrics, which, they say, glorify a dangerous American ghetto fantasy that doesn't exist in Germany and shouldn't be encouraged.
In response, the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons, an agency set up in 1954 in the sensitive era of post-Nazi reconstruction, has expanded its mandate to rap after spending most of the past two decades monitoring neo-Nazi music. Four rap titles have been added in the last year, joining seven others recently added to the more than 450 songs or albums the department has put on its list since the 1980's. Inclusion is more serious than an explicit lyrics sticker on a CD cover. It means that the offending album can't be advertised and stores can't sell it to anyone younger than 18.
"We put them on the list for many different reasons, but mainly because they discriminate against women, who are typically labeled prostitutes and hookers, and they advocate violence," said Elke Monssen-Engberding, director of the department.
The list features songs by radical right-wing bands like Aryan Duo and Reichsfront, offering song titles like "White and Full of Hate" and lyrics that glorify violence against immigrants. The fact that such bands are increasingly sharing space with people they spent most of their time railing against might seem strange. But to Ms. Monssen-Engberding, the threat from the two seemingly disparate groups is similar.
"The right-wing musicians are promoting an ideology, the rappers aren't promoting ideology; it's a type of dialogue," she said. "But it doesn't make it less dangerous."
In fact, there is some evidence that neo-Nazis relish the aggressive lyrics and image promoted by Berlin's gangsta rappers. Hannes Loh, an author of the book "Fear of a Kanak Planet: Hip-Hop Between World Culture and Nazi Rap," said some right-wing skinheads are abandoning jackboots and bomber jackets for the baggy pants and sneakers of the rap scene.
"We don't want to overexaggerate but it has become clear that it is moving in that direction," Mr. Loh said. "It's very contradictory, and very hard to understand."
Including for the rappers themselves. Bushido says skinheads cheered him at a concert he recently gave in the East German city of Chemnitz. After the show, they came up to congratulate him and ask for autographs.
"There is no trying to understand Nazis, but what are you going to do?" he said. "Are you going to ban them, put them in jail so that they hate you even more? If that guy is cool with me during the hour in which I'm giving my concert and respects the other people, then I think I've done a good job."
But it isn't the fact that he has some right-wing fans that has landed three of Bushido's five albums on the watch list. It's songs like "Gangbang" and "Dreckstück," in which women are portrayed as objects to abuse and humiliate, with lyrics like, "Just because you're a woman doesn't mean I won't beat you until you're blue."
His 2001 album "King of Kingz," which he produced in his mother's apartment, was put on the list in May. His most recent releases, "Electro Ghetto" and "Vom Bordstein bis zur Skyline" ("From the Pavement to the Skyline"), are also slated for listing.
"It's as dangerous to advocate violence against women as it is violence against immigrants," Ms. Monssen-Engberding said.
But that hasn't hurt Bushido's popularity among young people. "Electro Ghetto" made its debut at No. 6 last year on the German charts and is set to cross the 100,000 sales barrier needed in Germany to be certified gold. His most recent album made its first chart appearance at No. 3 and has already sold more than 50,000 copies, according to his agents at Universal Music.
Kaan Mueller, 16, who was attending a recent rap and dance open mike night at a community center in Kreuzberg, said he liked the music "because, sometimes, you need something aggressive and hard like that just to let out your feelings."
Around him, a multicultural mix of teenagers were cheering and whooping as group after group got onstage, some mimicking poses of their gangsta rap heroes as they rhymed unintelligible lyrics over a bad sound system. There were plenty of jerseys and baseball caps worn off center in imitation of American rap stars.
"I listen because I understand German hip-hop far better," said Mr. Mueller, a baseball cap tipped upwards from a face splashed with acne. "The Americans might do it better, but I don't know what they're saying."
The genre, though, is more popular with males than females. Monika Hetzer, 19, who helped organize the open mike night, said the new rappers were bad news.
"I think it's good that they put them on the list," she said. "I just got called a slut on my way in here by a little boy. Kids have gotten more and more aggressive. It's no surprise, given what you hear on the radio."
German rap has traditionally ceded ground to imports from across the Atlantic. Though some German hip-hop groups found success in the 1990's, German, unlike French and English, is not a language that accommodates the genre, say some artists.
The language features many combination words with an avalanche of syllables that don't rhyme well together, Bushido said. That impairs a rapper's ability to let loose a smooth and creative flow. That, combined with inferior production quality and beats, kept young people listening to rap imports, said Eric Remberg, the head of label Aggro Berlin, who prefers to go by the monicker Specter.
German rap's newfound success is partly a result of improved production quality and better lyrics, and partly a realization that Germany has its own problem neighborhoods, where failed integration and social hardship are part of the daily struggle, Specter said.
"I think Germany has reached the point that rap once was in the U.S.A., where it was attacked because people couldn't believe something like the gangsta life existed," said Specter, who since founding the label in the basement of a former brothel in 2001 has built it into one of the country's most notorious. "It was just ignored. People said. 'These conditions don't exist in our country.' "
Though Berlin might not have a Bedford-Stuyvesant or a South Central, he said, it has enough tough neighborhoods to provide material to the social misfits and immigrants who gathered in dark Berlin basements for freestyle battles in the late 1990's. A scene that started in the immigrant community in the 1980's quickly grew to include German youths from tough neighborhoods and children of mixed parentage.
Now that the songs they initially wrote to provoke their peers are reaching a larger audience and reaping criticism, rappers like Bushido are starting to tweak their style and tone it down. The new album he is recording in Austria is much more introspective, he said. In one song he portrays himself as an angel watching over a girl who has abusive parents. In another, he regrets missed chances with a girlfriend who has had an accident.
But other songs revert to the genre's typical form, with women getting much worse.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Yet another old but interesting article on German Rap by no other than the world-mufuckin-famous New York Times:
A new wave of rap music is sweeping Germany: sexist, violent, often racist - and adored by neo-Nazis. Ruth Elkins reports on the alarming advance of the shock troops of popular culture
"If it doesn't work out with hip hop," shrugs Bushido, Germany's most notorious rap star, "then I'll just sell drugs." It probably won't come to that. The 26-year-old half Tunisian Berliner is turning the world of German hip hop upside down. The child of a German mother and an immigrant father is attracting, against all normal logic, a massive audience of neo-Nazis who love his hard-edged, racist and nationalistic lyrics.
There has never been any doubting Bushido's bad boy credentials. He is currently, and not for the first time, in an Austrian jail, waiting to see if he must stand trial on GBH charges. Earlier this month, an unfortunate 20-year-old Austrian man made the mistake of wandering too close to Bushido's pimped-up 7 Series BMW. It is alleged the rapper and his two bodyguards suspected the man had punctured the tyres, and beat him senseless. Bushido could face 10 years in jail.
Bushido's latest brush with the law was par for the course for a true gangsta rapper. 50 Cent, Ja Rule, Snoop Dogg: all the American rap stars worth their platinum discs and pimped-out Hummers have had run-ins with the law or spent time behind bars. But there is something different about Bushido, a beefy man with five tattoos. He has sparked a huge debate in Germany, a country still new to gangsta rap, about how racist and offensive song lyrics can be before they become outright neo-Nazi propaganda.
The police and the German equivalent of special branch have monitored the ultra-right rock scene for years. They have secretly recorded concerts of groups such as Kraftschlag, Ayran Duo and Reichsfront, banned their CDS and raided distributors. These kind of bands, who offer up songs called " White and Full of Hate" have lyrics such as: "We are clansmen, of white race and clean blood; we are clansmen, watch out black man, be on your guard" and are seen as dangerous propaganda tools in the hands of Germany's neo-Nazis as they attempt to reach out to teenagers and school children.
Bushido, though, is different. Gangsta rap has at last become a home-grown German product. Tame German rap has been popular here for years: groups such as Die Ärtze released non-controversial hits like: "Claudia's Got an Alsatian", but it was the kind of music that made 12-year-olds giggle. Until very recently, true gangsta rap had been strictly an American import. Spotty German teenagers would don baseball caps and baggy jeans and listen to the likes of Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent rap about things that seemed to come from a different world - the streets of the American inner city ghettos. They were pretty offensive, of course, their songs laced with profoundly sexist content: all men were pimps; all women were bitches. Now Germany has its own gangsta rappers. A country, which until recently was renowned for its affluent, stable economy and inclusive welfare net, (something those who came from the ghettos such as Compton and South Central just didn't have) is hearing about a new harsh German reality.
Bushido is to the fore, joined by his foul-mouthed colleagues: Fler, Sido, B-Tight, Kool Savas, Eko Fresh, Brainless Wankers and a collective calling themselves Der Frauenartzt (the Gynaecologist.)
In the past year, these rappers who once could only dream of minor fame on the fringes of the Germany's parochial music industry have made it to the mainstream. Their CDs regularly top the charts, their loves lives are followed by the tabloids, their concerts are sold out. Yet they are declaring open warfare on Germany's safe and comfortable consensus society.
The new wave of German gangsta rap, says Aggro Berlin, the most successful and notorious of the Berlin independent record labels representing German rap stars, is simply reflective of the hard times in Germany, a country whose economy continues to dip in and out of recession and where unemployment nudges 5 million.
But Germany does not have ghettos or race riots, it is, say panicked politicians, in no way comparable with US culture. Germany's new found gangsta rap is glamorising a fantasy of American ghetto life which should be banned, not encouraged. Still, the likes of Bushido seem to want to polarise society. Even the titles of his raps are upsetting the authorities. "Gang Bang" is a nauseating account of violent group sex. " Dreckstück" (Piece of Dirt) is entirely misogynistic and features the lyrics: "Just because you're a woman, doesn't mean I won't beat you till you're blue." Again and again the lyrics of Bushido and his gangsta rapper homies openly flirt with fascism. "Salutiert, steht stramm, Ich bin der Leader wie A," (Salute, stand to attention, I am the leader like 'A'), raps Bushido. The 'A', of course, stands for Adolf. A rap collective called Mor were heavily criticised for rapping lyrics where " Wack MCs" were sent to the "gas showers" and "children to the concentration camps."
Fler, 24, another Berlin bad boy went one further. His latest hit, " Neue Deutsche Welle" (New German Wave) which went gold within two weeks of its release, features the ultra nationalistic lyrics: "That is black, red, gold, hard and proud, you might not see it in me, but believe me, my mom (sic) is German". The CD was advertised with an adapted pre-Polish invasion Adolf Hitler quote: "From May 1st, we will shoot back". His name on the CD cover was written in Third Reich style gothic print. The video to "Neue Deutsche Welle", constantly played on Germany's rolling music channels is set in a deprived high-rise East Berlin estate and features German flag waving, a complete taboo, as well as the ultimate Nazi symbol, an eagle, landing on the rapper's shoulder.
The video's director said he would have liked to have lots of skinheads march through the estate with Fler, but worried, "that it might have pushed us into a bit of a corner." But Fler wasn't done with his neo-Nazi antics. Rumours flew recently that he had called his producer, DJ Ilan a " money grabbing Jewish pig." Germany's newspapers were outraged, but Fler didn't bother to deny it. Germany's far-right party, The NPD has even recommended "Neue Deutsche Welle" to party members.
No wonder the German ultra right is so enthralled.
"Though I think it is wrong to over-exaggerate the problem, the far right are definitely getting more interested in German hip hop, more so since the genre become so popular in mainstream culture," says Hannes Loh, 34, a former anti-fascist rapper and co-author of the book, Kanak Planet: Hip Hop
As early as 2001, the far-right rock magazine, Rocknord published an article headlined: "Hip Hop Is Going White Faster Than You Think". The neo-Nazi readership responded with hungry interest. "National Socialism always based itself around the masses," commented one reader. "If the masses are listening to hip hop, then why not?" Another said: " I hate hip hop like the plague, but I'd welcome it, if the raps went along with 'right' way of thinking." And no wonder so much of Germany's new brand of gangsta rap is being banned. Bushido's 2001 album, King of Kingz, and his more recent releases, Electric Ghetto and Vom Bordstein bis zur Skyline are all on the banned Index produced by Germany's Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young People, mostly it says: "because they discriminate about women and advocate violence". Similarly, Aggro Berlin composition sampler albums Ansage Nr.2 And Ansage Nr.3 which feature titles by Fler, Bushido and Sido such as: "call-a-Nigger", " Pussy" and "Oh Shit!" have also been banned. Although it does not prevent them being sold to those over the age of 18, they cannot be advertised and once they are on the Index, most large record stores don't bother to stock them.
Bushido and his colleagues say they don't know what the fuss is all about. "I've always distanced myself from this far-right rubbish," Bushido said recently of the neo-Nazi fans who beg him to autograph their skinheads. " There is no trying to understand Nazis, but what are you going to do? If that guy is cool with me during the hour in which I'm giving my concert and respects the other people, then I think I've done a good job." Mor, the rap collective, were outraged at accusations they were right wing. " We're No Nazis and have no intention of promoting nationalistic German rap," it wrote, incensed, on its website. "In fact, there is no such thing as German nationalistic hip hop!"
Perhaps just as worrying, is German gangsta rapper's similarly laissez faire attitude towards the violence and sexism their lyrics promote. "That's just how group sex is, you know," shrugged Bushido when one journalist accused him of misogyny regarding his song "Gang Bang". Bushido has a young daughter and maintains he only hits people who insult his mother, but does not think his rap promotes violence.
"I say to the kids, when you press 'play' and listen to my CD, then you spend 70 minutes in my life. When you press 'stop', then you're back in your life, with your parents, your teachers and the police who will arrest you if you make trouble." Many arts commentators agree that Germany's new gangsta rap is nothing to worry about. "Fler is no Nazi," says Dennis Kraus of hip hop magazine, Backspin. "He's just unbelievably stupid." Even the ultra-conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says German rap's newfound offensive, nationalist tone is merely a ploy to sell records. "Fler just got what was left in Aggro Berlin's bag of tricks to get it noticed," it sniffed last month. "The 'crass nigger' character role was given to B-Tight, Sido got to wear the silver death mask. The only thing that was left for Fler which would cause any kind of outrage was the German flag."
"German gangsta rap is easy to deconstruct," says Hannes Loh, who runs seminars for school children to educate them about the genre. " Usually within about 10 minutes of discussion, you can get them thinking objectively." He, too, is not overly worried. "Ok, you could say this rap music is affecting children at a sensitive age; most fans are between 12 and 16 years old. But the truth is it's not really like that." He pauses for a while, then sighs. "The thing is, this kind of music is mostly listened to by white, middle-class kids who just want shock their parents. By the time they're 16, they've lost interest." German gangsta rap, he says, is just a phase. "It'll pass in time. Then maybe some of the really good stuff will replace it."
Source: The Independent
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Thursday, July 05, 2007
Die Fantastischen 4 -- dope, and therefore popular...
Towards the end of the 1980s, Rieke and Schmidt formed the "Terminal Team", Dürr and Beck joined in 1989. Under the new name Die Fantastischen Vier (The Fantastic Four), they made German hip hop, or Deutschen Sprechgesang (German spoken-song) as they called it, popular in Germany. Although there were artists who concerned themselves with German hip hop prior to them, for example Advanced Chemistry from Heidelberg, it was Die Fantastischen Vier who registered the first chart hit with their 1992 single "Die da?!" from the album 4 Gewinnt, hitting #2 in Germany and #1 in Austria and Switzerland. A music video for "Die da?!" was shot in Leipzig.
The group never got involved with US-American gangsta rap clichés, reacting sharply to verbal attacks of alleged German gangsta rappers. In the albums following 4 Gewinnt, the band matured and progressed to a more serious and philosophic style.
In addition to the group's works, Smudo, Thomas D, Hausmarke and And.Ypsilon also produced successful solo albums and had their own weekly show Die 4. Dimension, named after their third album, which aired on the German pay TV channel Premiere in 1993/1994.
At the 1996 Popkomm in Cologne, Die Fantastischen Vier announced the establishment of their label, Four Music. Headquarters were in Stuttgart, but were later moved to Berlin-Kreuzberg.
Three years later, the group's 7th album 4:99 was released on their own label, with 4 singles from the album following. After the #2 hit "MfG", three singles were released at the same time, a first in German music business. Each one can be associated with one of the rappers: "Le Smou" (The Smou; Smudo), "Michi Beck in Hell" (Michi Beck) and "Buenos Dias Messias" (Good day, Messiah; Thomas D).
In late September 2004, Die Fantastischen Vier released the album Viel, the following tour being their most successful and most visited to date.
In 2005, Fanta 4's first greatest hits album was published. It includes all singles, as well as several other songs and rare footage from the bands early days, when they were still called "Terminal Team" and rapped in English.
On April 7 2007, Fornika was released, preceded by the single "Ernten was wir säen" (Reap what we sow).
When Cournoyer started out, only accelerated students took a foreign language.
She agrees that students' lives were simpler then. Today, everyone has a chance to learn a new language, but there are many more distractions to prevent progress, she said. "They have so many more things going on outside of school. To reach them, you have to work much harder."
One of Cournoyer's lessons involves making German rap videos. To prepare, her students did a comparison of the history of rap in the United States and Germany and wrote their own German raps.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
BACKSPIN #86 - Juli 2007
Freundeskreis - Helden für einen Sommer
Kreuzberg Tape Vol. 1
Kaisa & MC Basstard
Icke & Er
King Orgasmus One
Sookee a.k.a. Quing (* Dezember 1983) is a German female MC a.k.a. a Deutschrapperin straight out of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Her base is Berlin and her scent is feminist. Her first release is called "Head, Heart, Ass" (2006, Springstoff)
2006 - Esco Mixtape (RAPplus)
2006 - Berliner Vokalrunde (Hauptstadtader Musik )
2006 - Memories 3 (Jubeko)
2005 - Bloodshot, Beats like Bombs
2005 - Chrizzow Flex, Upgrade (Springstoff)
2005 - RapCityBerlin (Mantikor/Lasan)
2004 - Mad Maks & Chrizzow Flex, Gemischte Gefühle #1 (Springstoff)
2004 - All inclusive 2, Leipzig brennt (RMF-Records)
2004 - RAPplus #5 (Artikulabor)
2004 - Memories (Jubeko)
2004 - Mad Maks & Sikk, Maksimale Sikkness (Springstoff)
2004 - Peat38 & H-MC, Gleichschritt (WahnDreiEck)
2004 - BierPimp, BierPimpin' Ain't Easy (Springstoff/PhatAct)
2003 - Chrizzow Flex, Das Flexperiment (Springstoff)
2003 - 360 Grad (Jubeko)
2003 - Artikulabor Tape #2 (Artikulabor)
2003 - Kacke am Dampfen Vol. 2: Kot Red (Springstoff)