Berlin's Turkish Hip-Hop Scene
Wielding a microphone against xenophobia, discrimination and conservative Islamic traditions: Young Turkish migrants began discovering hip-hop for themselves back in the early 1990s. It was primarily the clubs, arts centres and backyards of multi-cultural neighbourhood Kreuzberg that quickly became a hub for German-Turkish rap in Berlin. By Arian Fariborz
Pioneers of German-Turkish Hip-Hop The triumphal sweep was started by the music collective "Cartel". With eastern-style beats, samples and socially-critical lyrics, they hit a nerve with young migrants. The rap formation led by Hakan K. (pictured left) and Erci E. from Berlin achieved notable success with their debut album in 1995. Their music was later played on MTV and VIVA. And they produced the album "Begegnungen" (Encounters) together with rock musician Peter Maffay.
Transgressing Boundaries: Agitpop from the Backyards of Berlin The new German-Turkish hip-hop boom would not remain a regional musical phenomenon. The hip-hop virus soon spread from the Spree to the Bosphorus. The unconventional sounds and provocative raps in German and Turkish were received with enthusiasm by young people in Turkish metropolises such as Istanbul and Ankara.
Ceza, Rap Star The trend continued with reciprocal musical crossover projects by German and Turkish rappers: Berlin rapper Ceza produced two albums at once in 1998 with the Turkish hip-hop duo "Nefret" 1998. Ceza made a name for himself several years later through his appearance in the film "Crossing the Bridge – The Sound of Istanbul" by director Fatih Akin. He won the prize for "Best Turkish Act" at the 2007 MTV Music Awards.
Bridge between Hip-Hop and Social Work "Challa" (alias Caglar Budlaki), a rapper of Turkish origin from the Berlin district of Kreuzberg, used to be involved in street gangs and served time in prison for his crimes. The 31-year-old has since cleaned up his act and teaches hip-hop and breakdance in Berlin schools and arts centres such as the "Wasserturm" youth club in Kreuzberg.
Provocation as a Principle "Kool Savas", who has advanced to the status of rap icon and who grew up Kreuzberg where he found his way onto the hip-hop scene, also demonstrates huge social commitment. The self-styled "King of Rap" supports aid organizations such as "Visions for Children". His pop ballad "Der beste Tag meines Lebens" (The Best Day of My Life) made the German top ten. The artist's provocative songs are scandalous to some, who wonder if he's issuing a call to violence.
On an Equal Footing with the Berlin Boys Kreuzberg rapper and actor Aziza A. is proof that hip-hop isn't just a man thing. She's also a pioneer of German-Turkish rap, and presented her first album, "Es ist Zeit" (It's Time) in 1997. Her sardonic-ironic wordplays draw on the uncertainty experienced by many Turkish youngsters and address some of the clichés associated with Turkish women.