Is rap a good start for singers

Aggressive, hurtful, successful: why is "Gangsta Rap" so popular?

It was not a big surprise when Farid Bang and Kollegah received an echo for their album "Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3" - despite a line of text in which Farid Bang compares his body with that of an "Auschwitz inmate". Or another one in which he calls on the audience to turn their "train station ghetto into Charlie Hebdo". Provocative, politically incorrect, macho: gangsta and battle rap music with often sexist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and homophobic content is conquering the charts worldwide.

In the 2000s, gangsta rap also got bigger and bigger in Germany. At first rappers looked at their American role models Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, who regularly ridicule women as "bitches". The German variant of rap developed in a different, much more political direction. In the UK it is called in 2005 Independent ("Rap music and the far right: Germany goes gangsta ") German rap, fueled by the difficult economic lawsuit and high unemployment, is racist and misogynist.

"Those who accuse me of being a neo-Nazi have no idea about rap," Fler replied to his critics.

The album "Neue Deutsche Welle" by the Berlin rapper Fler was sharply criticized in 2005: he flirted with nationalist and neo-Nazi ideas. In the run-up to the release, the album was advertised with a modified Hitler quote about the attack on Poland.

AgainIndependent reported, Fler later also allegedly called his producer a "money-hungry Jewish pig".

Rebels for no reason

Today, gangsta rap is all about rebellion, says Kathrin Bower, professor of German studies at the US University of Richmond and an expert on German rap. The "gangsta rapper" behaves outwardly like an outsider, a rebel, someone who deliberately disregards the rules and is celebrated for it, explains Bower in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

"The blatant celebration of material possessions, misogyny and violence in gangsta rap is a belated manifestation of a general rebellion against middle class values, established society and political correctness." The fact, according to the expert, that when the Echo music prize is awarded, it is primarily the sales figures that count - that is, popularity - points to a sobering reality: "The hyper masculinity and provocation of gangsta rap appeal to young people with all kinds of backgrounds."

Shortly after its appearance, "Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3" was streamed 30 million times. The scandal surrounding the echo award, the many musicians who have meanwhile returned their echo prizes in protest, the announced changes in the award process - all of this will encourage young people to listen to gangsta rap instead of turning away.

Right across the nursery

Bushido's song "Stress Without Reason" (2013) resulted in several legal proceedings

The German rap star Bushido is regularly criticized for his sexist, racist and homophobic texts. He glorified the attacks on the World Trade Center (2001) and allegedly mocked Charlie Hebdo victims. In Austria, Bushido was in custody for 14 days after a fight. That didn't hurt his popularity: in 2014 his album "Sonny Black" was No. 1 in the charts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Kollegah and Farid Bang can also be heard as guests on the album.

In 2011 an attempt was made to change the image: The "rowdy rapper" Bushido received the Bambi Integration Prize - a prize that honors "people with vision and creativity" who have "inspired the German public this year". In fact, he tried to adapt more to the mainstream, says Bower of the University of Richmond. That was of little use to him, however: there were demonstrations against the awarding of the award and other award winners, such as the German pop singer Heino, gave their Bambi back.

Bushido's rebellious lines address a broad - and quite contradictory - target group: on the one hand, more Muslim youth with a migration background, on the other, also those who see themselves as "white nationalists" and neo-Nazis. You discovered Bushido for yourself, even though the rapper's father is Tunisian.

Search for identity

Had a good laugh after the echo in 2018: Farid Bang and Kollegah

That was not always so. In Berlin-Kreuzberg, young people of Turkish origin identified with hip-hop and rap since the 1980s in order to avoid their "outsider role" in Germany, writes Ayhan Kaya, political professor and director of the Europa-Institut at the Bilgi University in Istanbul.

This early form of rap was all about the search for identity. This is still important today, writes Kaya. He is currently working on a project on gangsta rap that will investigate why the genre has become an outlet for both "disaffected rights and Muslim youth."

"It's actually a positive development," Kaya said in an interview with DW. There is a potential for radicalization in both groups, both groups are equally "victims of globalization, industrial dismantling, socio-economic losses, alienation and humiliation". Hip-Hop offers an outlet for young people who might otherwise turn to radical groups like the so-called Islamic State or the National Socialist Underground (NSU).

As reassuring as that may sound, gangsta rap will probably continue to cause one or the other scandal.

After the uproar over Kollegah and Farid Bang, the Echo organizers are now rethinking the selection process