German rap music / Deutsche Rapper

The mysterious Abnu of Wordlab pointed out to me that there was an article on German rap in the New York Times this week. Bushido’s music has been labelled only suitable for those over 18.

bq. 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.

(Here’s an article in German about that office, the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien.)

I’ll skip over the political concerns and go straight to the linguistic ones:

bq. 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.

bq. 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.

See German hip hop (Wikipedia) Deutscher Hip Hop (Wikipedia)

5 thoughts on “German rap music / Deutsche Rapper

  1. I’m not sure I buy the arguement about German not lending itself to lyrical flow. It may not mimic the smooth delivery of some English or French rappers, but there’s something about clipped rapid fire delivery used by some German rappers that works really well. Plus, Tic Tac Toe’s “Warum?” is just a really good song.

  2. Carter: yes, I don’t believe that either. I don’t think it’s necessary to use portmanteau words in everyday speech.
    Ingmar: I missed that. Ein unschuldiger Linzer Bursche! This sounds more interesting than the Weltjugendtag.
    Maybe I should have looked at why that article appeared in the NYT. Was it written in association with this incident? Perhaps not.

  3. Most Americans don’t know that rap was first brought to a mass audience in Loony Pete by Arnold Schönberg, a man who specialised in doing what history demanded be done. Mr Schoenberg’s artistic heir was a gentleman by the name of Cavalier (aka Tung Twista), who claims to have pioneered sprechstimme rap, “a tongue-defying lyrical style between singing and speech indigenous to Chicago’s West Side and popularized by major-label compatriots Do Or Die and Crucial Conflict. Sprechstimme dates back to the late 1970s, with origins in jailhouse toasting, street gang baladeering and lyrical street battles between urban youth in the Midwest, and had emerged as a distinch sound by the late 1980s.” Whatever.

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