German Hip Hop - Turkish-German Hip Hop

Turkish-German Hip Hop

Many Turkish-German hip hop artists express their frustration with their society which has many disadvantages for young Germans with Turkish descent. Turkish youth have embraced images and ideas of “Thug Life,” which tend to symbolize not only a departure from the strict traditions of their parents’ generations, but differentiation from a “pure” German society. This trend developed in the 1970s when the immigrants dominated the discothèques. In the early 1990s with the fall of the Berlin wall and the rise in German nationalism, the Turkish immigrants sought a medium to express their mixed identity. For example, with the release of the first Turkish rap single, 'Bir Yabancının Hayati' or 'The Life of the Stranger", the record discussed themes of identity and the life of a foreigner in Germany. A Turkish-German vernacular has developed, employing phrases such as the racist German term “Kanak Sprak” – or “nigga speak” – and using Turkish imagery, such as one group, Cartel, which featured the Turkish flag on the cover of their album. This album was released both in Turkey and Germany, but targeted a purely Turkish audience with themes of their songs based on the immigrant experience and lack of permanency and belonging. Often, artists switch between the Turkish and German languages in their raps, and many claim that this vernacular is much closer to how people actually speak on the streets in urban areas. The Turkish hip hop community in Germany is considered an attempt to parallel itself to the African American community in the United States. A sizable minority, that is to say, Turkish-German youth, identify themselves strongly with negative hip hop clichés. They see themselves as “niggas” because they believe that they are exactly like African Americans. They live in a situation of uncertainty so they chose to reinvent themselves. They chose to reinvent themselves as such because it puts a twist to their choice of identification since many of their fellow white rap fans also want to be “gangstas”. It could also be merely part of an attempt to create a tough image or street credibility, or even part of a clever marketing ploy. However, this could also suggest that Germany is failing to develop a viable alternative for a rising generation of young Germans who are trying to find their own place and assert a new German identity within their newly minted multicultural country.

The contribution of Turkish youth in the so-called German hip hop is enormous, since it was one of the ways in which the segregated Turkish community in Germany express themselves. To express the discontent of being called foreigners, even when they are German citizens. What really attracted Turkish youth living in Germany to hip hop was the necessity of presenting themselves as Turks, but also as Germans. That is something that is reflected in almost every song produce by Turkish youth “for male Turkish youngsters, who grew up in a traditional strongly emphasized honor” (Dietmar Elflein). In other words even when the Turkish community in Germany has been discriminated against, just like African Americans and Latinos youth in New York in the 60s and 70s, they have found their way to success through hip hop and are not ashamed of representing the melting pot in which they live.

Turkish hip hop in Germany is distinct from other German rap in that it represents an attempt to adapt an American art form to a Turkish identity, not necessarily a German or even Turkish-German identity; writer Timothy S. Brown describes this as "a 'nationalism' within a nationalism." This cultural difference is manifested in the use of the Turkish language in rap and the use of samples from traditional Turkish Arabesk music. Turkish youth identify more closely with the Black American experience, and neighborhoods such as Kreuzberg, with high populations of Turkish immigrants, have a strong hip hop culture, influenced in part by U.S. soldiers who had been stationed there.

From Turkish immigrant community in Germany came "oriental hip hop" which began with DJ Derezone in Berlin producing music that blended English, African-American hip hop beats and Arab and Turkish. Another group that is classified as oriental hip hop is TCA or The Microphone Mafia. This groups combines Spanish, Italian, Turkish raps with various samples and beats. Furthermore, the address the immigrant experience with their albums and songs like "Eat or Be Eaten" (translation) and "Nobody Can Stop Us". Also see their music video on YouTube called "Hand in Hand" which depicts a white fighter and black fighter uniting.

Rapper Eko Fresh from Mönchengladbach for instance released the first German-Turkish rap album during 2003 which became a hit. His album was titled König von Deutschland with the collaboration of artists like Azra. The concept of the album further illustrated the typical story of Turkish boy growing up in Germany who is assimilated to both the Turkish culture and German culture, languages and the lyrics bounces between the two languages in his album “the language is rougher, more direct and closer to how a lot of kids talk”. This conflicted German-Turkish identity is what a lot of hip-hop generation experience in their daily lives inside Germany. The album was considered a hit mainly because it addressed issues related to the language/cultural barriers the young immigrant generation face. That is true especially when they are considered the largest minority group in Germany and account for about 1,918,000. “The German synonym for immigrant is ‘Gastarbeiter’ meaning ‘guest worker’ and that is also how first immigrants understood themselves”. That in a sense produced negative psychological impact and the lack of fully belonging to Germany, where minority individuals felt unwelcome and alienated, and saw hip-hop as tool for self-expression.

Additionally, from a scholarly view, the Turkish German hip hop culture demonstrates the idea that rap is celebrated and valorized as the creative and hybridized music that is usually associated with minority classes, youth, and many more, which often is used as a tool that empowers those on the margins by providing new spaces of identification, voice or room to speak. According to Brown Timothy, in his article he delineates the idea that Turkish Germans lacking a one specific identification of themselves thus adopting mostly to the neighborhood culture. And also as aforementioned, depicting themselves as the ‘African Americans’ of Germany. Also, according to some sources such as some of the reasons such violence being inevitable in the lyrics of Turkish German rappers or German rap in general, rejection of the genre of music by diplomats and not to mention individuals from other upper classes, are provided as evidence as to why Turkish German hip hop is depicted in the above explained manner. Hip hop music produced by Turkish Germans also makes its way into Turkey through the migration of the artists between both nations. This has caused hip hop to become more popular in Turkey and has helped establish the fame of some Turkish German hip hop artists in Turkey.

Read more about this topic:  German Hip Hop

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