When attempting to master a foreign language, immersing yourself in the culture is the easiest way to both learn and build your fascination with the respective culture. One central part of recent pop culture in Germany is its rap and hip-hop music. There are whole music festivals solely dedicated to rap and hip-hop, such as Splash! Festival and hardly any popular radio station refrains from playing the music of the spoken word. Therefore we figured, giving you a little list of recommended German rap artists would help you further your immersion into German culture. So here we go:
Marten Laciny a.k.a Marteria is the German equivalent to Jared Leto, in that he has had success in almost anything he touched. He played for the German under 17 soccer national team, moved to New York to become a successful model and in the last few years practically revolutionized German rap. While his flow is not rapid by any means, his plays on words and lyrics in general are extraordinary. The vibrant metaphors in his songs that underline the great perspectives on many ideas he has, are well known gems of German popular music. Start off with his song “O.M.G.”, it is an absolute tune, enjoy the ride!
I am almost certain that when you started reading this article you were surprised by the mere idea that there is such a thing as German rap. Let me surprise you even more, by telling you that its history goes back more than 20 years by now. One of the oldest German rap outfits now a juggernaut, is Absolute Beginner. Their 90s flow is, as almost all 90s flows, a bit slower, but the lyrics are more polished than many modern gangster rappers’ texts. Especially Jan Delays nasal tone will be something to remember, as he later in his career turned to singing, and not just anything but soul and funk. The best gateway to this trio is “Füchse” (German for foxes), which they featured Samy Deluxe on, another one of German raps evergreens.
Now let’s get a bit dirtier. Xatar is part of the relatively large Kurdish community in Germany. He spent a few years in prison for armed robbery and was even featured on German national news. He produced his first mix tape from behind bars and it surprisingly exploded on the German rap scene. Today he is one of the hottest new artists, to come up in the last few years. The other members of his “Alles oder nix“ label, most notably SSIO, are equally popular at the moment. Especially interesting is the way he talks about the Kurdish Pershmerga’s fight with ISIS, evoking the memory of Kurds being the sons of Salahuddin, and the opinions he voices about the German prison system. First of Xatar’s songs to listen to is the more light-hearted “Iz da”.
Do you like crossovers? Then you’ll love Casper. His voice sounds like Joe Cocker in a screamo band and his music is somewhere between hip-hop beats and his hardcore background. He regularly works with big names of German rock music, such as the Beatstakes Arnim Teutoburg-Weiß, or Tomtes Thees Uhlmann. If you are more into songs to make your heart heavy and think of your last love lost Casper is the German way to go. Try “So Perfekt”, which, in contrast to many of the other songs, an anthem to the end of something that is the beginning of new endeavours. It’ll remind you of your high school graduation, or the best times of your first relationship.
Nobody actually knows what K.I.Z. stands for. “Kanibalen in Zivil” (civilized canibals) or “Klösterschüler im Zölibat” (celibate cloister school boys) are just two of the acronym’s many translations. Not only their name sparks controversy, but their lyrics do even more. Set to DJ Crafts intense beats, they talk about being serial killers in mental asylums or their idea of a perfect post apocalyptic world. Their last release is more straightforward than their mostly ironic first albums, but incorporates current topics such as the migrant crisis. The rants some of their songs include are nothing short of awesome. Try their last single “Hurra die Welt geht unter” to start with. It features one of the great voices of modern German music, Henning May, and is a song for a Sunday morning on your sunny Berlin balcony. Check it out here and just imagine that Berlin balcony!