Rap is everywhere. In the clubs, in the radio and in our Spotify and Itunes lists. No other music genre is dominating the charts and Youtube-world more than Hip Hop. There is a global hype of Rap, for true. And this trend hit also Turkey. Ben Fero, Reynmen, Ezhel, Norm Ender or Fuat Ergin just to name a few of a long list of popular Turkish rappers who recently gained the attendance of the mainstream. But rap music is far more than a trend, it reflects also our Zeitgeist.
In a world where youth rebellion towards dictated dogmas becomes more and more important, rap music has displaced rock music that had been standing for rebellion for a long time. But rap does not only appeal to our emotions such as juvenile anger but it also entertains us. And above all, it is the music genre that celebrates the most a diverse society. With the increasing perception that Turkey is diverse in terms of religious beliefs, different worldviews, ethnically and culturally different groups, rap music became more and more popular. It does not separate but unites this diversity under the realm of music. With the diversity of the Turkish society in which different ethnic groups as well as different cultural embossing, rap music itself contains Western techno beats as well as Eastern Anatolian sounds. The diversity of the sound makes rap so popular. So rap music in return contains more diversity than ever – the sound, the lyrics, the topics and its artists.
“Rap is not dependent on a fixed topic, it tells about a lot of different things like politics or love.”, Ezhel says. “Rap is a music genre that has lots of energy, both in terms of beats and the sociocultural background of rap music. It has also a young spirit and is able to transform itself in different forms.” Ezhel is one of the most popular rappers in Turkey and who also has features with German rap artists such as Gringo from the meanwhile gentrified hipster hotspot Berlin-Neukölln.
Of course, Turkey does not get to know rap music and Hip Hop culture just today but there is a long history of rap music among the Turkish youth. “Rap music has always been popular in Turkey. Just think about how the group Cartel filled a whole stadium. So rap has always been a music genre that was loved for 20 years. It just shuttled, that’s all.”, Ezhel tells. Turkish rap has its roots in Berlin, the Diaspora children of Turkish guest workers were talking about their struggle between the cultures, discrimination by the German society and the violence of the streets. The sound of street rap was a long time dark and rough.
“Rap music today is much more suitable for radios in terms of its sound than the dark sound of street rap songs of the past.” the famous producer The Royals & Mohamad H. who is one of the most successful producers in Germany, working closely together with Germany’s most successful rapper RAF Camora. And it was RAF Camora who changed the rap game in Germany when introducing trap sound to German rap music – influenced by French hip hop which has musically its roots in African music. “RAF Camero and Bones MC changed in 2016 everything with their album „Palmen aus Plastik 1“. Thenceforth street rappers in Germany began to choose beats on which you can dance.“
The Royals & Mohamad H. is producing for more than 10 years and has worked with German rap stars such as the KMN Gang or Kontra K. „As Hip Hoppers, we are very happy about the success of rap nowadays.“
If this trends will hold on? „That is written in the stars“, the Frankfurt based rapper Celo comments. „But the lyrics nowadays do not differentiate very much from popsongs. The people are flashed by the beats. Listening to rap makes fun. This is the hip hop boom, before it was rock music, than techno, today it is rap.“ Celo alias Erol Huseinćehaj belongs to the rapper Duo „Celo & Abdi“ who are based in Frankfurt. They are pioneers in Germany with their „Azzlack German“ – a German language mixed by different languages of migrants. Since their rap music is established in the cultural landscape of Germany, Turkish, Arabian and Bosnian notions such as „baba“ (father), „para“ (money), bratan („brother“) or amo („uncle“) that they are using in their lyrics are to Germans not alien anymore. The culture sections of German daily newspapers are dealing with their lyrics, proclaiming rappers as poets and exploring how their music has changed the German culture and language. Celo & Abdi gave a gig in the well-recommened Schirn Kunsthalle. This was the moment where street culture meets high culture. The appreciation of street culture has also taken Turkey over. It is not a coincidence that TV series such as “Cukur” has a broad fan base. Boys from the streets to academicians – they all watch “Cukur” which is dealing with the fight of the good vs. evil within the context of street violence and power. While the mainstream liberal Turkish youth had been marginalizing for a long time the youth that was more traditional and from socially weak areas of Turkey, this has changed fundamentally. The same happened in Germany, where the marginalized group has been for a long time migrants, especially young Turkish men.
Today, a Christian from Munich’s wealthy district listens to rap music that is dealing with being discriminated or how to sell drugs in order to buy Nike Airmax sneakers.
But yes. There are still prejudices within the society.
“When I told my insurance company that I produce German rappers, they would think, okay, probably it is music just about women, violence, drugs and sex. But I could show them ten songs right away, that have been extremely successful and do not deal with those issues. There are songs that motivate you to have a good life and to pursue your goals.”,The Royals
But a lot of prejudices has been reduced. “In the past people were afraid to out themself as someone who listens to rap music. For example, he or she was afraid that his or her boss while working in a company could find it out and would stick him into a box.”, the Frankfurt based rapper Abdi aka Abderrahim el Ommali adds in an interview with BasedIstanbul and he continues: “The lyrics of rap are often a form of outing – either drugs or women. But today when your boss also listens to rap music, you can think, okay, I can show openly that I am also a fan of rap without run into the danger to be judged. The kids in the past who were into Hip Hop are the bosses of today.” The generation change means a change of the image of Hip Hop. That is why rap is popular today.”