Hip-Hop “You shouldn’t claim to be something you’re not”

From the New York Bronx out into the whole world – in the past 30 years no other youth culture has found as many followers as hip-hop. And no other youth culture is as repeatedly misunderstood. It isn’t all about violence, or money, or people who just can’t sing. Four hip-hop fans tell us what motivates young people to rap, produce beats or dance.

Can Müslüm Demirdögen, 15, hip-hop fan and up-and-coming producer from Mannheim

Can Müslüm Demirdögen, 15, Hip-Hop-Fan und Nachwuchs-Produzent aus Mannheim Can Müslüm Demirdögen, 15, Hip-Hop-Fan und Nachwuchs-Produzent aus Mannheim | Foto: privat When I first came into contact with hip-hop I must have been around six or seven years old. My sister used to listen to a lot of American rap. Then, when I was eight, I got my first MP3 player and immediately copied all my sister’s stuff so I could listen to it all day. It was not until two years later that I started listening to rap from Germany, when a new boy in our class showed me songs by artists such as Bushido or Chakuza on his mobile phone.

I don’t like it when rappers pretend to be gangsters. Or act filthy rich. If they do it with a sense of humour, like Kollegah, and just slip into the role, then I think it’s cool. But you shouldn’t claim to be something you’re not.

For the past two years I have also been making music and producing beats myself. I’ve already been able to sell some of my beats to rappers from Germany and the USA. As beatmakers we are all well-organised on the internet, especially on the social media. I’ve already made lots of friends from all over the German-speaking region in this way. I write to lots of people and ask them to give me tips, or whether they like my beats. Most of them answer, only a few are arrogant enough to ignore you. I think beatmakers should stick together, just so that they can learn from one another.

Vanny Vst, 21, rapper and producer from Rosenheim

Vanny Vst, 21, rapper and producer from Rosenheim Vanny Vst, 21, rapper and producer from Rosenheim | Photo: privat The first time I came across hip-hop I was around twelve. My neighbour’s big brothers used to listen to a lot of rap back then, especially Eminem, but also artists from Germany such as Kool Savas or all those guys from Aggro Berlin. It’s stayed with me since then. Then I started to write my own texts when I reached eighth grade, but I didn’t get into it properly until I was 16 or 17. At that point I already knew a few people from Munich and my home town of Rosenheim who were into rapping, I thought to myself: if they can do it, so can I! I also noticed very quickly that I’ve got a good feel for the beat and that kind of thing, and that it’s really fun.

To start with of course I didn’t understand Eminem’s English lyrics, but I soon noticed that it was different to the same-ish pop music you always hear on the radio. I think it’s cool that hip-hop is so cross-genre, that there is plenty of potential for experimentation. There are many hip-hop artists who work with guitar and rock arrangements, but there are also some who prefer to go in the electronic direction.

Nowadays I concentrate more on production and don’t rap at all anymore, because you just have far more opportunities as a producer. I think you get too old for rapping at some point, after all it’s music for young people and at some point you have nothing left that you can tell them.

Jeannine Güth, 29, hip-hop dance teacher from Hamm, with her students Justin, 17, and Jana, 14

Jeannine Güth, 29, hip-hop dance teacher from Hamm, with her students Justin, 17, and Jana, 14 Jeannine Güth, 29, hip-hop dance teacher from Hamm, with her students Justin, 17, and Jana, 14 | Photo: privat I originally started with ballet as a child. At that point my parents didn’t yet have their dance school, but were already entering ballroom dancing competitions. They always wanted me not to pursue the same hobby as they did, so that they wouldn’t be standing around criticising the whole time. So they got me interested in ballet. It was through ballet that I then progressed to more modern things, such as hip-hop. At some point my trainer then asked me whether I wanted to start running courses myself – at that point I was 14. Later I trained as a dance teacher, but you mostly learn ballroom dancing in that context. You have to find out the rest for yourself.

So I have more of a classical dance background then. I’m not a ghetto dancer or anything like that. But if you want to progress in hip-hop dance, then you need this basis too. Nowadays I don’t dance much myself anymore, I prefer to concentrate on imparting my knowledge. Since then I have been taking part in competitions with various hip-hop dance groups. At the moment we are particularly successful with our para mini-group “No Difference”, consisting of Justin, Jana and me. For instance we became vice-champions at the Para World Championship in Copenhagen in October. At these competitions the idea is that people with and without a disability dance together in one group. Justin is autistic. To begin with he hardly said a word, but after he joined our group he opened up more and even started to initiate conversations himself. Jana has a hip misalignment and dwarfism. She was very good even right at the start, although to begin with she didn’t have the confidence to perform on stage. Nowadays they both dance in my regular courses for advanced students as well, in other words there is absolutely no difference in performance between them and dancers without a handicap.

Christian WeiSS aka “Miami Weisz”, 26, rap fan and amateur producer from Munich

Christian Weiß aka “Miami Weisz”, 26, rap fan and amateur producer from Munich Christian Weiß aka “Miami Weisz”, 26, rap fan and amateur producer from Munich | Photo: privat I’ve been listening to hip-hop for almost ten years. But I can’t pinpoint a particular moment when it all began. As with most people, I started off by coming into contact with chart rap music. Back then I was barely aware of hip-hop from Germany, but it didn’t really interest me even later on. Even now I think most German hip-hop is embarrassing and ghastly.

I wouldn’t even say it’s just the music that has attracted me to hip-hop. It was more the rebellious element that’s perhaps not embodied by rap in quite the same way as it was at the start, but was still enough for me. Also, don’t forget – I started listening to rap at 16. At that age you’re incredibly conscious of what other people think of you. My best friends had already been listening to rap longer than I had, and they did their own rap too. So you can safely say I was a hanger-on. My friends were a large part of what attracted me to rap. Admittedly I was never a DJ or a breakdancer or a sprayer. I had no interest in that.

When I do my own beats, I work a lot with stock pieces from other songs, known as samples. I find it fun to analyse songs and use their best parts for something new. By doing this you can turn the spotlight back onto older songs that deserved much more interest. Nowadays for instance I am a big fan of many old jazz and soul numbers that I first only heard while I was looking for samples. Another thing about hip-hop is that it always takes you on a journey through musical history, and that’s something I find incredibly thrilling.