German hip hop

The term German Hip Hop denotes hip hop music produced in Germany. Elements of American hip hop culture, such as graffiti art and breakdancing, diffused into Western Europe in the early 1980s. The first German hip hop artists emerged in the mid-1980s as part of an underground music scene. Early underground artists included Cora E. and Advanced Chemistry. It was not until the early 1990s that German hip hop entered the mainstream, as groups like Die Fantastischen Vier and the Rödelheim Hartreim Projekt gained popularity. Though some dismiss Die Fantastischen Vier as "pop rappers," it was their music that made hip hop accessible to a broader German audience. German hip hop was heavily influenced by films which led to a "strong emphasis" on aspects other than just the music, such as graffiti and breakdancing. [Brown, Timothy S. “‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 139 London;]

Localized Origin of German Hip Hop

According to Dietmar Elflein in his periodical “From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany” hip-hop emerged in Germany from Germany’s Western Parts. The “main regional hip-hop centers were Brunswick, Dortmund, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Kiel, Cologne and West Berlin.” (Dietmar 257) ] Elfrien agrees with his previous claim that hip hop began in breakdance form by suggesting that these centers focused on dance movement. However, this period of pre sound system hip hop eventually ceased. The beginning of hip hop in Germany occurred in Western Berlin. According to Edward Larkey in his periodical “Rap and Hip Hop Music” found in Music and German National Identity By Celia Applegate, the film "Wild Style" and the Harry Belafonte-produced "Beat Street" brought American Hip Hop to West Germany. [ ] Western Berlin was the initial outlet where hip hop began in Germany.

In a recent study performed by John Clarke on sub-culture styles, he coined the term ‘recontextualization’ which specifically refers to the process by which cultural products are borrowed or relocate from one contextual setting to another. In the context of German Hip hop, the cultural objects that compose American hip hop are ‘recontextualized’ from the American urban setting to similarly multi-ethnic immigrant communities within Germany. Furthermore, he explicates that these cultural transfers rarely impose exact replication. Instead, cultural exchange implies cultural adaptation or what some sociologists call ‘localization.’ This process has deployed intriguing cultural transformations in the case of cities like Brunswick, Dortmund, Hamburg, Heidelber, Kiel, Cologne, and West Berlin, especially amongst a youth immigrant population. [ Brown, Timothy. ‘Keepin it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip Hop in Germany. ]


Early Roots

While the term gastarbeiter may be somewhat outdated or politically incorrect, the influence of the immigrant community in Germany has been lasting in many ways. One such area of influence has been in the development of a German hip hop scene. Cultural musical traditions from Northern Africa, Turkey, Morocco and other countries combined with the influence of the American Forces Network to give immigrants a wide variety of music to work with and the AFN created a musical dialog in many genres. As early as 1945, German musicians such as jazz legend Gunter Hampel used American music brought via the AFN for inspiration: “On the AFN (American Forces Network) Radio from the truck I heard Louis Armstrong. I didn't understand a word he is singing, but Louis talks to me. He was reaching right through to me, eager to soak up the new world.” [A Fireside Chat with Gunter Hampel, USA Jazz Weekly, August 2.2000., retrieved 3-26-2008] Just like Hampel found a voice in Armstrong’s Jazz, immigrants in Germany found a voice in hip hop. Listening to the plight of artists like Afrika Bambaataa and KRS-One on the radio and interacting with African American soldiers stationed on American bases in Germany, young immigrants began to make the “realization that, as with African-Americans, theirs was a ‘distinct mode of lived [ethnicity] ’ which demanded its own localized and particularized mode of expression.” [ Bennett, Andy. "Hip-Hop am Main, Rappin' on the Tyne: Hip-hop Culture as a Local Construct in Two European Cities." In That's the Joint!: The Hip-hop Studies Reader, p. 181-2. New York; London: Routledge, 2004. ] When fueled in the later part of the century with videos bringing hip hop fashion, dance and graffiti, this particularized mode of expression coalesced to become hip hop scene known today in Germany.

German hip hop can also be attributed to the influence of films that came out during this time period. Two Films in which came out during the 1980s, one being "Wild Style" and the other being "Beat Street". These two films deal with the two conflicting sides of Germany, the west side being capitalist and the east side being communist. German Hip Hop many times can be seen to parallel the Black culture and the American type of Hip Hop. This is because the people at this time living life in Germany was much like "ghetto life" in America. The people in beat street for example live in Ghetto's with lives much like those of the people who lived in Germany at this time. Like the movie "Scarface" in America, "Beat Street" gave Germans a movie that they were easily able to rap about, because of how it had much to do with their lives.] [ Hip Hop In Germany ] ]


Commercialization of American rap and hip hop began in the early 1980s.Hip hop culture began to come to Germany as early as 1983.The influence of film was critical on German's hip hop's early development, leading to a strong emphasis on the more heavily visual aspects of the culture like graffiti-art and break dancing. It soon percolated into Germany through recordings, cinema, and the American soldiers stationed there. Through such films as "Wild Style" and "Beat Street", German youths developed a taste for breakdancing, spraypainting, and freestyling, thus beginning hip hop's first wave of popularity. GLS United was perhaps the first German hip hop group, releasing the first German-language hip hop song "Rappers Deutsch" in 1980. These movies led the people of Germany to realize that hip-hop was much more than just rap music, but was very much a cultural movement in and of itself. Though at the time of the release of the movie, it did not have a great overall impact, once reunification began in 1990, the hip-hop scene began to flourish. Elflein, Dietmar. "From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany." Popular Music, Vol. 17, No. 3. (Oct., 1998), pp. 255-265.] As one German remembers on a visit to the US in 1986, things were much different. There was no thing like MTV in Europe, as the scene was still very much underground. And there aren't any hip hop only clubs there, as we have in the States.

After this initial wave of popularity, hip hop fans were few and far between,cite journal |first=Dietmar |last=Elflein |title=From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany |journal=Popular Music, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Oct., 1998) |page=p. 257] however the fans that did remain would play a role in the resuscitation of the hip hop culture. "...The hardcore hip hop fans that remained after the breakdance craze faded from the media were central to the further development of hip hop in Germany-they supplied much of the personnel for the important rap groups that began to develop in the late 1980s and early 90's." [ Brown, Timothy S. “‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop inGermany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London; A] "Graffiti and breakdancing came out big but it only lasted for one summer. But hip-hop survived in the underground."Heimberger, Boris. "Hip Hop in Germany." In The bomb Hip Hop Magazine. April 1996] These quotes illustrate that although the first stages of hip hop were driven by the media and quickly died, the true hip hop fans would not let hip hop be a one and done fad. It was the passion and persistence of the underground hip hop scene that allowed it to prosper later on. Unlike most hip-hoppers of other countries, German fans did not identify themselves by wearing specific clothing styles; rather, most knew each other personally, and organized hip hop jams became demonstrations of unity. These parties, hosted at youth centers or at individuals' houses, attracted regional and sometimes national attendance. Early jams were the locus of a nascent German hip hop culture, at which sprayers, breakers, rappers, and DJs convened and exchanged ideas.

Part of the genre's attraction was its foreign origin. Many hip hop fans viewed contemporary German songs, such as those of the "Schlager" and "Neue Deutsche Welle" genres, as trite and unoriginal. For this reason, rappers at early jams rapped only in English, and to American beats.

The fact that most German rappers, for a time, rapped in English gives strength to the theory that German Hip-hop is a form of 'cultural imperialism': Germans emulating the culture of the United States, while relinquishing their own. Brown,Timothy S.'Keeping it Real' in a Different 'Hood': (African)Americanization and Hip Hop in Germany. The Vinyl Ain't Final 137-50. London; Athlone, 1997 ] . Even today, there are German videos that look much like hip-hop videos shown in the United States, displaying nice cars and artists wearing huge jewelry and shades. Furthermore, the German dialect used in German hip-hop is a form of cultural imperialism. Because German Hip-hop artists are predominantly of Turkish-German descent (which is the largest minority group in Germany) and are constantly marginalized, they embrace Hip-hop as a music for all minorities to use and create a German "ghetto-style" of rapping when not rapping in English. By using a German form of Ebonics to rap, Turkish-German Hip hop artists display the common need for minorities, when using rap as a vehicle of protest, to use language that is somewhat vulgar and improper to express their outrage towards the wrongs society has done upon them. [ Loentz, Elizabeth. "Yiddish, Kanak Sprak, Klezmer, and HipHop:Ethnolect, Minority Culture, Multiculturalism, and Stereotype in Germany."] . In other words, Hip-Hop, no matter what the language, demands a specific dialect that is controversial to speak in public, but understood, in order for Hip-Hop to deliver the minority artists' message of rebellion, powerfully.

Torch, a member of the Heidelberg-based group Advanced Chemistry, was perhaps the first artist to freestyle in German at a jam. Advanced Chemistry had previously freestyled in English, but they had (unlike other groups) addressed the audience in German between songs. At one jam, Torch, without the prior knowledge of the group, spontaneously began rapping in German. The audience was enthusiastic, not only because they could better understand the rap, but also because they felt more directly addressed. From then on, Torch rapped increasingly in German, writing his first German rhyme in 1988.

Die Fantastichen Vier (the Fantastic Four) are another important German hip hop group, who also began to rap in German around the same time as Advanced Chemistry. Die Fantastichen Vier saw English rap in Germany as meaningless loyalty to “surface elements” of U.S. rap, and devoid of any German political or social context. They sought to appropriate hip hop from its foreign framework, and use it to bring a voice to historical and contemporary problems in Germany [Brown, Timothy S. “’Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-)Americanization and Hip Hop in Germany.” The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, 137-150, 1997] . The shift of rapping from English into German increased hip hop’s appeal to the German people, gastarbeiters (guest workers) included. Growing self-confidence among Germany’s immigrant population coincided with the use of the German language in German hip hop, and provided them with a vocal outlet in line with the plight of poor African Americans, out of which hip hop had originally emerged [ [,2144,1914272,00.html German Rap Keeps it Real | Culture & Lifestyle | Deutsche Welle | 26.02.2006 ] ] .

The Group Advanced Chemistry originated from Heidelberg, Germany. As they were one of the few early hip hop groups to rap in English, they were extremely influential in promoting the hip hop scene in Germany. More importantly however, Advanced Chemistry was a prominent hip hop group because of the ethnic diversity of the members. Torch, the leader of the group for instance is both of a Haitian and German ethnic background. [ Adelt, Ulrich "Ich bin der Rock'n'Roll-Ubermensch": globalization and localization in German music television Popular Music and Society, July, 2005,] . Advanced Chemistry exploded onto the German hip hop scene in November 1992 with their first mixed single entitled "Fremd in eigenem Land" (Foreign in Your Own Country). This song was immensely popular because it directly addressed the issue of immigrants in Germany: "In the video of the song, a band member brandishes a German passport in a symbolic challenge to traditional assumptions about what it means to be German. If the passport is not enough, the video implies, then what is required? German Blood?" .

After the reunification of Germany in 1990, many Germans saw a growing wave of racism. Because many hip hop artists were children of immigrants [cite journal |first=Dietmar |last=Elflein |title=From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany |journal=Popular Music, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Oct., 1998) |page=p. 255] , this became a major theme of German hip hop.

During the 1980s Germany first saw a wave of second generation immigrants coming into the country. Immigration became a big issue is hip hop albums at this point. The German synonym for an immigrant is Gastarbeiter which means 'guest worker', and these ‘guest workers’ were rapped about often. A popular German hip hop record by Advanced Chemistry is titled "a stranger in one’s own country," which is an attack on immigrants. Immigrant teenagers commonly use rap and hip hop as a way to defend themselves in their new countries. "Since honour cannot be gained, but only lost, a permanentreadiness to fight is required. Thus social approval is acquired by actually defending one's honour or by exhibiting abilities such as the willingness to face physical encounter, talkativeness and humour... According to the rules of the game, the first one to whom nothing clever comes to the mind is the loser. This concept is quite similar to 'dissing' in rap." [ Elflein, Dietmar. From Krauts with Attitude to Turks with Attitude. Oct. 1998. ]


In 1991, the German music label Bombastic released the record “Krauts with Attitude: German Hip Hop Vol. 1”. The album featured fifteen songs – three in German, eleven in English, and one in French. The album was produced by DJ Michael Reinboth, a popular hip hop DJ at that time. Michael Reinboth moved to Munich in 1982 and was the first DJ to introduce garage-house and old school hip hop music to the Munich club scene. [ [ Compost Records: Michael Reinboth ] ] His compilation "Krauts with Attitude" is considered one of the first German hip hop albums, as it features Die Fantastischen Vier. The title refers to Niggaz with Attitude, one of the most controversial U.S. hip-hop groups of the time. "Krauts with Attitude" was the first album to nationalize German hip hop, and its album packaging reflected this. “The cover was designed in the colours of the national flag (black, red and yellow), and the linernotes read as follows: 'Now is the time to oppose somehow the self confidence of the English and the American.'” Overall the album played a significant role in promoting and nationalizing hip hop and hip hop groups in Germany.

In the early 1990s, hip hop established itself in the mainstream, and many new rappers emerged on the scene. One such band was Die Fantastischen Vier, four rappers from Stuttgart, whose optimistic sound has brought them fame both in Germany and abroad. Apparently, original crew members Smudo and Thomas D, were inspired to begin rapping in German following a six month visit to the United States. It became apparent that they had nothing in common with U.S. rappers and their essentially middle-class upbringing was foreign to that of the cultural environment of U.S hip hop. "The group subsequently decided to concentrate on issues they saw around them, using their own language, rather than aping American styles." [ Pennay, Mark. "Rap In Germany: The Birth of a Genre." In Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA, 121. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2001.] They released their first LP "Jetzt geht's ab" in 1991. Unlike earlier German hip hop groups, Die Fantastischen Vier never played in underground jams, and they did not invoke American "Gangsta rap" themes. The group was therefore not taken seriously at first. In 1992, however, their single "Die Da?!" hit the top of the charts. Despite the fact that this was the first German rap record sung exclusively in German, many in the hip hop community were aghast, because the band had barely no connection to the jam scene, rapped about in a light-hearted nature, and released their music through Sony/Columbia. The latter asset was particularly controversial, as Hip hop culture, both in Germany and the United States, had developed with a distinctly anti-commercial edge. By 1992, however, anti-commercialism no longer predominated in the American hip hop, and it has since lessened in Germany.

Although Die Fantastischen Vier achieved commercial success and helped to pioneer hip hop music in Germany, they were contested for sounding “too American.” Brown, Timothy S. “‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London; A] The group’s lack of socially conscious topics and simplistic delivery and material informed the ways in which they were viewed as a trite pop group. Other German rap groups criticized Die Fantastischen Vier for not incorporating localized material that would resonate with German culture.

During 1992-93 many acts of protest occurred in the wake of anti-immigration in Germany. Amongst the angst of this period, the content of German hip hop started to become more politicized. Additionally, the language of the music started to reflect a more local voice. The group Advanced Chemistry has been noted as one of the first to incorporate social critiques of growing prejudice and racism in Germany. “…the newly emerging hip-hop movement took a clear stance for the minorities and against the marginalisation of immigrants who, as the song said, might be German on paper, but not in real life” [ [ German Hip-Hop 1: Advanced Chemistry « Leave Your Nine At Home ] ] In essence, Advanced Chemistry engineered legitimacy and authenticity to German hip-hop music by expressing the “real life” hardships experienced in German society.

During the inception of hip hop into Germany, most popular hip hop artists have come from West Germany. This could be because of the large immigrant population there at the time. "By 1994, the number of immigrants living in Germany had reached 6.9 million. 97 per cent of all immigrants were resident in the western part of the country, which meant that in the former Federal Republic of Germany and in West Berlin every tenth citizen was a foreigner." [Elflein] Of those 97% of immigrants in the Western part of Germany over 1.5 million of them originated from a European country. For example, the community with the largest amount of immigrants (roughly 1.9 million people)was the Turkish community. Within the Turkish community only 5% of its people were of age 60 or older. Such statistics give justification for why hip hop may have flourished in Germany; many of the people were young. Furthermore, German hip hop, much like many other countries, was heavily influenced by the western world. During that time, a rises of anti-immigrant feelings resulted in the acts of arson and murder against the Turkish asylum seekers. In May 1993, 5 Turkish people were killed and many injured when someone attacked the home of a Turkish family with a firebomb. In 1993 German hip hop "globalized" with the emergence of Viva's Freestyle; the equivalent to the American Yo MTV Rap show. Viva's freestyle consisted of hip hop songs from the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany.] The influx of immigrants into Germany caused an adverse effect on employment and wages. It was found that immigrants and native Germans were imperfect substitutes for each other, while old and new immigrants were interchangeable exposing an inelastic labor market. [ [ The Labor Market Impact of Immigration in Western Germany in the 1990's ] ] Lower wages and a poor job market are often catalysts for an emerging hip hop scene.

No new "Deutschrap" (German-language rap) albums made the charts from 1992 until 1995. Underground rap continued to develop, splitting into two the "Neue Schule" and "Alte Schule" ("new school" and "old school"). The members of the "Alte Schule" – many of whom had rapped in the early jams – accused the "Neue Schule" of not taking hip hop seriously. The "Alte Schule," (derived from a groundbreaking compilation record of that name from the independend "MZEE-Records" Label) which included Cora E., the Stieber Twins, and Advanced Chemistry, had a more political focus that the "Neue Schule" did not share. One example of politically charged "Alte Schule" hip hop is Advanced Chemistry's 1992 "Deutschrap" 12inch "Fremd im eigenen Land," (also MZEE-Records) which concerned widespread racism and the plight of disadvantaged immigrants. Another example is the "Absolute Beginner" song "K.E.I.N.E." which criticized the police for being everywhere but where they were needed.

In contrast, the "Neue Schule," which included the Fantastischen Vier, Fettes Brot, and Der Tobi und das Bo, sought mainly to produce fun, accessible music. They rapped about less weighty topics, injecting a liberal dose of humor and irony into their songs.

Despite criticism of the "Neue Schule", it arguably paved the road for wider acceptance of the "Alte Schule". Nonetheless, members of the latter continue to regard the former with disdain.

In the mid 1990s German hip hop was growing. John Clarke used the term 'recontextualization' to describe the process of borrowing cultural ideas and integrating them into a new society. German hip hop did just this as it took U.S. hip hop and gave it a new meaning and identity in German culture. Black American gangsta rap however is not the only type of rap that has developed in Germany. Some of the most innovative rap music in Germany is made by Germans or by underground crews dedicated to rap for both political and artistic reasons. Rap has been able to succeed in Germany not just due to a different national culture of the U.S., but also because people are responding to other racial and ethnic cultures. At this time, in the mid 1990s, the relation of import and domestic rap was 70% import to 30% domestic, but domestic was increasing rapidly. CD's had practically taken over the market in Germany and cassettes were almost out and were just used for black copies. German hip hop was yet to have a specific identity as different styles occurred due to ethnic and musical background.


This was also a time that a lot of immigrants were moving to Germany [''Elflein Dientmar, Hip-Hop History in Germany 1998 volume 17/3. Cambridge University, United Kingdom ] and they all came with their own culture which contrasted with that of Germany. Turks with German citizenship who are widely not considered as being German were those who start the hip hop movement [ '' Bassturk, Muhabbet, The German-Turkish Pop Scene, 2006 ] in Germany. [ [ Turk-German ties coming apart at the seams - Turkish Daily News Feb 13, 2008 ] ]

The years from 1995 to 2000 were a golden age for German hip hop, as the demand surged, and the market was flooded with new records. Hip hop scenes formed in larger German cities, most notably Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt.

Among the bevy of new Hip Hop releases, new styles emerged that were not easily classifiable as "Alte Schule" ("oldschool") or "Neue Schule" ("newschool"). These included "Bambule" by Absolute Beginner (1998), "Fenster zum Hof" by the Stieber Twins (1997), "Quadratur des Kreises" by Freundeskreis (1997), and later "Deluxe Soundsystem" by Dynamite Deluxe (2000).

"Battle Rap" and "Battlefreestylen" emerged as a popular hip hop genre. These were based on the freestyle battles that had long been popular in the United States, in which rappers competed in self-aggrandizement and hyperbolic mockery. Though battle rap was at first strictly a performance art, German hip hop CDs soon included battle rap tracks, many of them directed at unspecified or imaginary foes.

Karakan also emerged in the German hip-hop scene. In 1991, Alper Aga & Kabus Kerim formed the group in Nürnberg, Germany. This year, they released the first ever Turkish language rap track in, named "Bir Yabancinin Hayati" (Life of a foreigner). Two years later, they released classic tracks like "Cehenneme Hosgeldin" (Welcome to Hell) and the controversial "Defol Dazlak", which was released as a Maxi Single. "Big Porno Ahmet" joined the group as a producer / beatmaker. Shortly, the success of Karakan spread beyond the borders of Germany and the group started to get well-known within the European Hip-Hop scene. During jams, they met Cinai Sebeke (Da Crime Posse) and Erci-E. Together, they established the legendary group CARTEL and released a compilation album in 1995.In 1997, KARAKAN finally released his first official album "Al Sana Karakan" and shot 2 videos. This album has been one of the best Turkish hip hop albums ever, probably the best. The global quality of the album and the maturity of the group just put the level higher as it’s now very difficult for rappers to get a such level. [ [ - KARAKAN - Nürnberg - Hip Hop / Rap - ] ]

The only Single from this album, "CARTEL", composed by Big Porno Ahmet, brought the biggest success in Turkish Hip-Hop history. With this unexpected success, they got Gold, Platinum and many more awards by selling more than 2,250,000 copies...

Another genre of hip hop was "Polit Rap", which sought to expose social problems both in and outside of Germany, especially in the larger cities like Hamburg, Berlin and Frankfurt. This often blended with "Gangsta rap", which narrated the exploits of thugs in a large urban ghetto, modeled on inner-city US neighborhoods such as Compton and South Bronx.

The multilingual and multinational group TCA- The Microphone Mafia combines Spanish, Italian, Turkish and German raps with live music and samples of traditional music from all the previously named countries. [ Elflein, Dietmar. "From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany." Popular Music, Vol. 17, No. 3. (Oct., 1998), pp. 255-265.] One of their best hits was 'No! Wanna be' released in 1997. This group was is a great example of 'Oriental Hip Hop in the German Diaspora'.

2000 to present

The late 1990s saw a dramatic increase in both rappers and fans, the music itself underwent little innovation. The boom ended around 2001, as the rate of new releases sank. The underground scene has once again become a dominant force in German hip hop culture, as it had been in the 1980s. Young aspiring rappers compose beats and texts in their homes, often sharing them over the Internet.

Battle rap has become more popular, made popular by groups like M.O.R. and led by explicit rappers like Kool Savas, Taktloss and Azad. Rap on political and social themes has continued with groups like Freundeskreis, Advanced Chemistry, Samy Deluxe and Curse.

Several bands have emerged under the Aggro Berlin label. The new "Berlin scene" has a harder, more serious sound than the more established "Hamburg scene." Sido's debut album in 2001 was hailed by many critics as the first real German hip hop album, as it seriously addressed social problems in the violent, anti-authoritarian, and often sexist style that has typified US Hip Hop.

The Frankfurt-based rapper Azad has ascended into the top 10 with his album "Der Bozz".

Currently the most successful rappers in Germany include Azad, Bushido, Fler, K.I.Z., Kool Savas, Samy Deluxe and Sido . The "beef," a form of highly publicized, extended rivalry between rappers, has become a prominent feature of German hip hop, as it was several years earlier in the United States. Azad, for example, once accused Sido of insulting his mother, for which, after considerable media fanfare, Sido apologized on TV.

The idea of "beef" is not the only convention adopted, or rather adapted to the German hip-hop scene. Rapper Azad's video for "Ich Glaub An Dich" , the theme of the German version of the television show Prison Break, boasts much of the hip-hop aesthetic seen in today's U.S. releases. The production value of the song itself was top notch. While there were no sampled voices or syncopated loops there was a smooth interpolation of piano, voiceover and guitar riffs comparable to some G-Unit cuts. Scenery also mirrored much of what might even be seen today in the next Fabolous or Cassidy music video. The gritty prison scenes from the show were contrasted to the dramatic, pictruesque background of a beach or a lighthouse from which an R&B artist melodiously sung the song's chorus. There is also, of course, the pimped out ride, a factor whch is probably more related to Germany than to the U.S. as it is where many "rapper cars" are engineered. The rapper-R&B singer dichotoomy seen in the video, accompanied by other subtle elements attributed heavily to more commercial U.S. hip-hop videos is demonstrative of the fact that not only the hostile legacy of rap beef but also the some of the prettier aspects of how rap should feel and look were culturally diffused into German Hip-Hop culture.

Today, the German hip hop scene is a reflection of the many dimensons that Germany has come to represent in a unified image of Europe. Everything from "migrant hip hop," which is known as hip hop from the large Turkish immigrant population that is mostly centered in Kreuzberg, to the more humor-based groups, such as the wildely popular Berlin based group Puppetmastaz ["Puppetmastaz Website." 26 March 2008] , paint a portrait of a vibrant and diverse hip hop community in Germany.

Today immigrants make up almost %10 of the population in Germany, and there is still harsh discrimination going on. [ Bacon, David. Germany's New Identity - A Nation of Immigrants. ]

German hip hop at this moment is undergoing a huge transformation. From the beginning the music genre in Eastern Europe was heavily influenced by the American hip hop culture but in Germany hip hop and rap was never quite the same because it came from somewhere else. The German hip hop artists of the 1980s and 1990s were white middle class men. The songs were about love, loss and parties. They had titles like “girl dumps boy” by Sie ist Weg or “a day at the seashore” by Ein Tag am Meer. Now a little bit of the “gangster” and “ghetto” touch is being added [ ] . Previously, according to German hip hop group, The Joy of Zoo Sound, “They [German youth] felt almost exactly like the people portrayed in Beat Street. Of course we had cash for a doctor, and here it didn’t rain through the roof o the apartment, and we didn’t have any gangsters on the street, but our life was just as dreary’” [Brown, Timothy S. “‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London] The artists leading this music revolution are artists and groups like Sido, Azad, Kool Savas, Bushido and B-Tight who rap about crime, police brutality, drug abuse and violence. Their lyrics are often a crude mixture of German and English slang. Although their backgrounds in the “ghettos” of Germany cant compete with life in the bad neighborhoods of New York or Los Angeles, they come from what some may consider the rough areas of Berlin and downtown Frankfurt [ Roxborough, Scott. “Almost Like Real Gangstas. This time, German rap is coming from the streets.” The Atlantic Times. February 2005] .

The influences of these somewhat gangster German hip hop artists can be seen everywhere especially in the clothing styles of the German youth. In a German high school you will find many, young men especially, wearing baggy jeans, sideways baseball caps (even though there is no baseball in Germany) and Reeboks. These findings might be very similar to those in an American high school. While the ghetto style is quickly spreading throughout Germany, so is controversy. Parents and politicians feel the lyrics about bad neighborhoods, stab wounds and prostitutes romanticize an American ghetto fantasy that does not exist in Germany [ Tzortizis, Andreas. “German’s Rap Veers Toward the Violent.” The New York Times.9 August 2005 ] . However, German hip hop artists argue back that the middle and upper classes of German society are simply in denial. It is certain, however, that gangster and ghetto hip hop are making waves in Germany, via the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite common notions of the Old School German hip hop’s emulation of US hip hop styles and the New School’s attempt to rap about crime and violence, some “Old Schoolers Von Dirke, S. (2000). “Hip Hop Made in Germany: From Old School to the Kanaksta Movement.” German Pop Culture.] ” feel that the New School has, in fact, forgotten about its roots. Old School supporters and Scholars disagree on the nature of the recent transformation in German hip hop. Scholars have argued that the Old School German hip hop “scene was musically and vocally oriented to American role models. Rhymes were written in English; funk and soul samples dominated musical structures” [Elflein, D. (1998). "From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany." Popular Music, Vol. 17(3); 257] . However, Old Schoolers themselves contend that it is the New School German rap artists who have been “Americanized,” and therefore lack the authenticity of the struggle of the ghetto in West Germany. The German old school acknowledged that there were many the differences between the situation in the United States and the situation in Germany, and aimed at expressing the concept of “realness,” meaning to “be true to oneself”. Different from the US hip hop’s equating “realness” with “street credibility,” many raps that came out of the old school German hip hop “address this issue and reject unreflected imitation of US hip hop as clichés and as the betrayal of the concept of realness”. Furthermore, the Old School of German hip hop may have been seen as representing “a critique of White America” because of its modeling after US hip hop; however, Old schoolers dispute that hip hop in Germany was about the oppression of people in Germany. One Old School artist, DJ Cutfaster lamented that, “Most people have forgotten that hip hop functions as a mouthpiece against violence and oppression and ultimately against the ghetto, which has become the metaphor for the deplorable state of our world”. Contrary to the New School hip hop’s attempts to crossover into the mainstream popular culture, the Old School “envisioned and propagated hip hop as an underground community that needed to keep its distance from and to create resistance to mainstream culture in order to avoid co-optation”.

Influenced by the Media

As one can notice from present time, many things in everyday life are impacted by the media. And come to realize, music is one of the components that gets influenced by our media all the time. For example, when hip-hop first started to peak in our life, media was "the machine" to spread the sound of hip-hop. It did not just happen in the United States, it's everywhere, and one of those countries is Germany. Dietmar Elflein writes in his article "From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany" that hip-hop was brought to Germany by media. He states "the first information about hip-hop to reach Germany was communicated primarily through films." The he goes on describing how the media showed that hip-hop was more than just rap music; it is part of a "vivid street culture". Then he concludes on that point that the media also helps to exploit this genre commercially. Boris also agrees in this case and writes in his article "Hip-Hop in Germany" that Hip-Hop in Germany has a similar beginning tp the US. He depicts that hip-hop is "strongly influenced by overseas records and movies." Despite that, Boris Heimberger concluded by saying that hip-hop survived in the underground.

Turkish-German Hip Hop

Many Turkish-German hip hop artists express their frustration with their society which has many disadvantages for young Germans with Turkish descent. Turkish youth have embraced images and ideas of “Thug Life,” which tend to symbolize not only a departure from the strict traditions of their parents’ generations, but differentiation from a “pure” German society. This trend developed in the 1970s when the immigrants dominated the discotheques. In the early 1990s with the fall of the Berlin wall and the rise in German nationalism, the Turkish immigrants sought a medium to express their mixed identity. For example, with the release of the first Turkish rap single, 'Bir Yabancının Hayati' or 'The Life of the Stranger", the record discussed themes of identity and the life of a foreigner in Germany. A Turkish-German vernacular has developed, employing phrases such as the racist German term “Kanak Sprak” – or “nigger speak” – and using Turkish imagery, such as one group, Cartel, which featured the Turkish flag on the cover of their album. This album was release both in Turkey and Germany, but targeted a purely Turkish audience with themes of their songs based on the immigrant experience and lack of permanency and belonging. Often, artists switch between the Turkish and German languages in their raps, and many claim that this is vernacular is much closer to how people actually speak on the streets in urban areas. [ The Atlantic Times :: Archive ] ] The Turkish hip hop community in Germany is considered an attempt to parallel itself to the African American community in the United States. A sizable minority, that is to say, German-Turkish youth, identify themselves strongly with negative hip hop clichés. They see themselves as “White niggas” because they believe that they are exactly like African Americans. They live in a situation of uncertainty so they chose to reinvent themselves. They chose to reinvent themselves as such because it puts a twist to their choice of identification since many of their fellow white rap fans also want to be “gangstas”. It could also be merely part of an attempt to create a tough image or street credibility, or even part of a clever marketing ploy. However, this could also suggest that Germany is failing to develop a viable alternative for a rising generation of young Germans who are trying to find their own place and assert a new German identity within their newly minted multicultural country. [ Leontz, Elizabeth. Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 25.1 (2006) 33-62 ]

The contribution of Turkish youth in the so called German hip hop is enormous, since it was one of the ways in which the segregated Turkish community in Germany express themselves. To express the discontent of being called foreigners, even when they are German citizens. What really attracted Turkish youth living in Germany to hip hop was the necessity of presenting themselves as Turks, but also as Germans. That is something that is reflected in almost every song produce by Turkish youth “for male Turkish youngsters, who grew up in a traditional strongly emphasized honor” (Dietmar Elflein). In other words even when the Turkish community in Germany has been discriminated against, just like African Americans and Latinos youth in New York in the 60s and 70s, they have found their way to success through hip hop and are not ashamed of representing the melting pot in which they live.

Turkish hip hop in Germany is distinct from other German rap in that it represents an attempt to adapt an American art form to a Turkish identity, not necessarily a German or even Turkish-German identity; writer Timothy S. Brown describes this as "a 'nationalism' within a nationalism." This cultural difference is manifested in the use of the Turkish language in rap and the use of samples from traditional Turkish Arabesk music [Brown, Timothy S. “‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London; A ] . Turkish youth identify more closely with the Black American experience, and neighborhoods such as Kreuzberg, with high populations of Turkish immigrants, have a strong hip hop culture, influenced in part by U.S. soldiers who had been stationed there [ [ THE SATURDAY PROFILE; A Bold New View of Turkish-German Youth - New York Times ] ] .

From Turkish immigrant community in Germany came "oriental hip hop" which began with DJ Derezone in Berlin producing music that blended English, African-American hip hop beats and Arab and Turkish. Another group that is classified as oriental hip hop is TCA or The Microphone Mafia. This groups combines Spanish, Italian, Turkish raps with various samples and beats. Furthermore, the address the immigrant experience with their albums and songs like "Eat or Be Eaten" (translation) and "Nobody Can Stop Us". [ [ Microphone Mafia ] ] Also see their music video on youtube called "Hand in Hand" which depicts a white fighter and black fighter uniting.

Eko Fresh for instance released the first German-Turkish rap album during 2003 which became a hit. His album was titled Konig von Deutschland or (king of Germany) with the collaboration of artists like Azra. The concept of the album further illustrated the typical story of Turkish boy growing up in Germany who is assimilated to both the Turkish and German cultures, languages and the lyrics bounces between the two languages in his album “the language is rougher, more direct and closer to how a lot of kids talk”. This conflicted German-Turkish identity is what a lot of hip-hop generation experience in their daily lives inside Germany. The album was considered a hit mainly because it addressed issues related to the language/cultural barriers the young immigrant generation face. That is true especially when they are considered the largest minority group in Germany and account for about 1,918,000. “The German synonym for immigrant is ‘Gastarbeiter’ meaning ‘guest worker’ and that is also how first immigrants understood themselves”. [Elflein, Dietmar. "From Krauts with Attitudes to Turks with Attitudes: Some Aspects of Hip-Hop History in Germany." Popular Music, Vol. 17, No. 3. (Oct., 1998), pp. 255-265] That in a sense produced negative psychological impact and the lack of fully belonging to Germany, where minority individuals felt unwelcome and alienated, and saw hip-hop as tool for self expression.

Additionally, from a scholarly view, the Turkish German hip hop culture demonstrates the idea that rap is celebrated and valorized as the creative and hybridized music that is usually associated with minority classes, youth, and many more, which often is used as a tool that empowers those on the margins by providing new spaces of identification, voice or room to speak. According to Brown Timothy, in his article [Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London;A ] he delineates the idea that Turkish Germans lacking a one specific identification of themselves thus adopting mostly to the neighborhood culture. And also as aforementioned, depicting themselves as the ‘African Americans’ of Germany.Also, according to some sources such as [] some of the reasons such violence being inevitable in the lyrics of Turkish German rappers or German rap in general, rejection of the genre of music by diplomats and not to mention individuals from other upper classes, are provided as evidence as to why Turkish German hip hop is depicted in the above explained manner. Hip hop music produced by Turkish Germans also makes its way into Turkey through the migration of the artists between both nations. This has caused hip hop to become more popular in Turkey and has helped establish the fame of some Turkish German hip hop artists in Turkey. [ [ Turkish hiphop ] ]


ee also

*List of German hip hop musicians

Further reading

* Sascha Verlan, "Arbeitstexte für den Unterricht." Stuttgart: Reclam, 2000 (Extended Edition 2003)
*Sascha Verlan, Hannes Loh: "20 Jahre HipHop in Deutschland."Hannibal Verlag, 2000
* Hannes Loh, Murat Güngör, "Fear of a Kanak Planet", Hannibal Verlag, 2002
* David Toop, "Rap Attack", Hannibal Verlag, 2000

External links

* [ German underground rap website]
* []
* [ German hip hop Online Magazine]
* [ German hip hop online magazine/Forum]
* [ German hip hop online magazine ]
* [ European hip hop online magazine]
* [ German Hip Hop Community with free track upload]

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