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Friday, March 07, 2008

Censored German rap!

German hip hop is more diverse than its squeaky clean reputation suggests. The German counterparts to the likes of Dr. Dre and Busta Rhymes used to be middle-class white boys in baseball caps. But not any more. In the 1980s, while hard-hitting line-ups like Public Enemy were giving mainstream America sleepless nights during the golden age of hip hop, German rap was a movement still very much in its infancy. [...] German hip hoppers were finally getting the message. The growing self-confidence of its immigrant population as well as an inexorable spiral into economic depression went hand-in-hand with a burgeoning subculture that finally identified with young, black America.

Ten years later, the brand of quirky social criticism peddled by well-meaning white rappers with a penchant for a nice bassline has been replaced by an altogether edgier genre. [..] in Berlin's run-down high-rises, where it's been reclaimed by kids who know at least as much about inner-city deprivation as Snoop Dog does.

Artists such as Sido and Bushido, who share the Aggro Berlin label, deal with sex, drugs and violence, and have even been censored by the BPjM, Berlin's Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons. That hasn't stopped them amassing a vast and loyal following of fans -- many of whom have far-right political sympathies. The racist content sets it apart from US rap, but in many other ways, performers such as Bushido -- who is half-Tunisian -- are unmistakably taking their cues state-side.

Former member of hip hop combo Anarchist Academy and the author of several specialist books, Hannes Loh accuses this new generation of rappers of fuelling cultural stand-offs. "Bushido styles himself as the typical aggressive Arab, confirming precisely the stereotypes the majority of Germans expect from Arabs and Turks," he said. "Basically that all they do is deal drugs, take cocaine and beat their women." Loh thinks it's right that much of this music has been censored, but says it's symptomatic of deep-rooted social problems.

"They're victims themselves," he said. "They have no education and no jobs. All they have is a big mouth."

Source: Deutsche Welle