Following WW2, Germany was a divided country through the centre of Berlin. West Germany enjoyed economic growth as they allied with the USA, UK and France while East Germany went under communist rule as part of the Soviet Union.
During the economic boom in West Germany, there was a big wave of immigration in the 1960s with agreements allowing foreigners to migrate here to work in the industrial sector. These were called ‘Gastarbeiters’ meaning ‘Guest Workers’, however, children of these migrants were allowed to reside in the country but were not granted citizenship.
This is while East Germany saw a lot of migration from other socialist countries including North Vietnam and Cuba.
Germany was then unified in 1990 with West Germany taking up the law and many immigrants from East Germany being deported under the new statute. But the reunification led to a growing wave of racism which, along with the political issues of deportation, would become the theme of this hip-hop culture.
Boom Bap was diffused into West Germany in the 1980s through the American soldiers that were stationed there, bringing this emerging culture with them. This was however mainly in English due to the taboo of using the German language post-Hitler.
The first emergence of hip-hop in German came in the mid-80s from two very different groups, Advanced Chemistry and Die Fantastischen Vier.
Advanced Chemistry was a group, from Heidelberg, with all members from immigrant backgrounds that used their music as a political voice against racism and social issues while Die Fantatischen Vier, from Stuttgart, distanced themselves from the American sound giving them more commercial success in Germany with their light-hearted image. These were pitted together with a rivalry from day one.
The scene today has evolved to cover all aspects of the genre but has kept with the majority of the artists being of foreign descendent, being a resistance against migration politics in Deutschland.
Out of the two pioneers, the conscious rap group led by MC Torch takes our picking for starting hip-hop in the German language and setting the template for it in their own culture, as well as placing pro-immigrant politics in the mainstream.
Fremd In Eigenen Land (foreign in my own country) is one of their best selling singles being the Fight the Power for German minorities.
He is one of the most successful German rappers starting off in the influential duo Westberlin Maskulin alongside Taktlo$$, before producing four solo studio albums. He achieved a number one chart position with his albums Aura and Martyer.
He is of Turkish origin, representing the second generation of immigrant rappers after Advanced Chemistry. He brought a more street and raw sound that hadn’t been done before while also addressing the political and social issues faced.
This German hip-hop artist represents how the genre has become modern and mainstream in the country today. Kontra K is from Berlin and has a martial-arts background that he sports in his look.
He released his debut album Dobermann back in 2010 and has just dropped his new album Sie Wollten Wasser doch kriegen benzin. Read our review of the release here