…But then, just as you are about to award the country full marks for hip hop excellence, the vocal comes in. Oh dear, you think. What’s going on? The delivery is pedestrian, the voice weedy, and worst of all, it’s in German.
And therein lies the problem. It may be terribly politically incorrect to say so, but German is simply a bad language to rap in. French, Spanish, Portuguese, even Russian – all perfectly acceptable languages for words of hip hop wisdom. German, sadly, just doesn’t lend itself to that all-important lyrical flow.
I beg to differ. There are a few German hip-hop artists who can, uh, keep it real and representen. Those who can’t, are straight up wack MCs. Yeah, I said it. Na, und? The difference between wack MCs and the true playas is skillz. You either got it or you don’t. In the realm of hip hop (and I am in no way, shape or form a lexicon of German hip hop) there is Deichkind, Massive Töne, Creutzfeld & Jakob and Eko Fresh to name a few.
I’ve talked to a lot of German musicians who prefer to write and sing English lyrics because, according to them, German doesn’t flow off the tongue like English does. Listen to German musicians like Kante, MIA, Niels Frevert, Wir Sind Helden, 2raumwohnung, Besser or Selig and you’ll know that this isn’t necessarily true.
A few times I’ve had to read and correct English lyrics written by Germans and I had to tell the author that what they wrote makes no sense at all in any stretch of the English language. But neither does “I am the Walrus” from the Beatles so it doesn’t matter. Some German artists who can pull it off in English (among many many others) are Masha Qrella, The Notwist and The Beatsteaks.
Oh, by the way. The first rule of hip hop applies to German MCs as well: Never ask a rapper who he is because he’ll tell you within the first few seconds of the song whether you want to know or not.
UPDATE: Hey, I was thinking it would be cool if Germans or other expats could leave comments about who some of their favorite German bands/musicians are. The more obscure the better. The first to say Dieter Bohlen gets banned.