Marl: There is No Space for Hip Hop

Marl is a city in the north of the Ruhr Area and with about 85,000 inhabitants it belongs to the smaller cities. It was our aim to examine whether there exists a Hip Hop culture in Marl and how significant it is for adults and young people. Therefore we interviewed the rapper FATe. He provided us with an overview over his development as a rapper and over the local Hip Hop scene which does not exist anymore as we found out later.

FateFATe. Foto: Facebook.

FATe explains:

A real scene existed in former times. Neighborhoods rapped against each other, for example Marl-Hamm against Marl-Mitte. Today there are just a few rappers.

In Marl-Hamm and Marl-Mitte existed competing gangs, who tried to profile themselves in their lyrics and provoke or battle against other neigbhorhoods. This kind of behavior is not unusual for the Hip Hop scene in Germany. Just remember the conflict between the rappers Bushido and Kay One in 2013 when both of them rapped against each other in their songs.

Although there is no active scene anymore, how FATe says, there are MCs in Marl who try to provoke a conflict against FATe. He explains this as a kind of resentment of these MCs. However, it happens quite rarely, that these conflicts lead to a real battle. An important issue that the rapper mentions very often is that conflicts ended violent in former times. This led to a lot of battles between these gangs. Violence, drugs, and crime characterize FATe’s lyrics, in which he criticizes today’s society and his environment.

My Message is that people should start to live their life on their own and do not let other people decide it. They should stop to hold on to values that do not fit to them. But predominantly my message is that I am upset about society.

The MC shows us that self-determination and self-empowerment is quite important and that people should achieve their own goals whatever other people try to dictate them. His reference to wrong values refers to that people should be free to develop themselves as a person, without the influence of standards and mores by parents, gangs or institutions. It is also possible, that he hints at the values of the Hip Hop scene. Crime and violence is considered as a positive action. Especially young people are getting influenced by this behaviour to belong to a gang. FATe demands that young people should do their own things and whatever they like without getting influenced by other people or values. With this attitude his rap belongs to the conscious rap tradition because his contents are socio-critical. This kind of music is the opposite of aggressive gangster rap or battle rap with whom FATe does not really identify.

Meeting spots for Hip Hop parties or concerts do not exist in Marl. Instead, the Hip Hop culture takes place in the underground. This could be a reason for the aggressiveness and violence in the city, because there are no possibilities for publicly performing rap music and Hip Hop culture. Especially the inhabitants of Marl oppress this music genre since they have a negative stereotypical opinion about rap and Hip Hop. They associate the genre with its criminal past which leads to this stereotypical thinking. But the lack of opportunities to live out Hip Hop as a whole culture leads to this condition. Moreover, FATe does not like that rap music is not on a level with other music genres, “because it always looks like that Hip Hop is for ghetto kids.”

Another problem in Marl is the resentment and mud-slinging of other MCs and DJs. FATe told us, that talents do not get any support in Marl. But this support for talents would be the best for the city. The talents get the opportunity for support and show that the city has got the acceptance for Hip Hop and its artists.

In summary we can say that Marl is coined by a criminal Hip Hop scene, which does not exist anymore. The Hip Hop culture tends to be oppressed, because the Marler residents  often connect this culture with violence and crime. They have huge prejudices, but they do not have the chance to be convinced by the opposite because Hip Hop  does not exist in public spaces anymore. Furthermore there is hardly any to no support for talents in youth centers anymore. Although FATe’s hometown is Marl, he never gave a concert in this city. Instead he has got gigs in Gladbeck (Kulturhaus), Essen (Kulturzentrum) and Duisburg (Rap am Mittwoch). Hip Hop is more important in these cities because of the acceptance of the culture and the opportunities to live their passion with other artists.

It is difficult to consider the results of our interview as representative, as he is not the only rapper in Marl, but all the other rappers in Marl refused an interview with us. However, we believe that we have found a meaningful and reflecting artist, who explained his point of view from the old and new perspective of the Hip Hop generation in Marl.


Rap in Haltern: Everything is Allowed as Long as it is Made with Passion

Haltern am See is a small city with 40,000 inhabitants in the north of the Ruhr Area. The aim in our group was to investigate Haltern am See more precisely. We wrote several artists, but the rapper MC Smog was the only one, who answered our request for an interview. We asked him about the importance of HipHop culture in Haltern am See, his development, his style of music, the message in his songs,  and about the Hip Hop scene and locations in Haltern am See.

MC Smog 2MC Smog. (Foto: Facebook)

In 2008, MC Smog started rapping. He wrote his first song for a party with some friends. He recorded this song, uploaded it in the Internet and sent it to friends. After some positive feedback he was on fire. However, he never listened to German rap music before as he always enjoyed the rock music genre.

The first songs were recorded in Haltern am See, in a rehearsal room of a fellow rock band. But after a short period of time he bought his own microphone, the appropriate music production software (Cubase and Magix), and equipment to record comfortably at home.

All of his concerts took place in Haltern am See so far. On his gigs the German-speaking rock band Die Primären Geschlechtsorgane accompanied him. He performend on stage with a drummer, a guitarist, and a bass guitarist, that is why this music can be characterized as rock music. His audience consists of friends and the Haltern rock scene. He played in the youth center Trigon, on the rock-stage of the annual hometown festival, in the Grüne Hölle and on some private parties. These locations are known for concerts of the Rockbüro Haltern. The Rockbüro Haltern is the organizer and contact for gigs and concerts in Haltern am See most of the times.

10440699_731616503568820_1481560873056842473_nMC Smog & Die Primären Geschlechtsorgane. Foto: Facebook.

Regarding our question concerning his message in his songs and about the importance of rap music, he answered:

The opportunities of the German language are unlimited. Rap music is the modern, legit successor of German poetry. Everything is allowed, as long as it is made with lifeblood. The boundaries of rap music are not quite defined. Rap music without rappers is just a blank sheet.

To meet a HipHop scene in Haltern am See is actually quite difficult. MC Smog says about himself that he was the “only rapper on a certain level.” Therefore it is not easy to find more meeting spots or further concert locations besides the locations, which we have listed already. It seems that MC Smog was the only rapper in Haltern am See who performed on stage. Because is no real rap scene, he only recruited the rock scene with his music. MC Smog might be the one who can establish a Hip Hop scene in the near future. The difference between the Hip Hop scene in Haltern am See and other cities in the Ruhr Area is that is is very small to non-existing.

Die HipHop-Kultur in Essen: Eine Einführung

Während der letzten Jahrzehnte ist Rap-Musik zu einem der angesagtesten Musik-Genres in Deutschland geworden. Seit den 1980ern ist Essen bereits die Heimat von bekannten Rappern, wie etwa die 257ers, Favorite, Sinan G, Manuellsen, 3Plusss und PA Sports. Diese MCs sind sogar über die Grenzen von Essen hinaus bekannt und genießen großes Ansehen unter Kennern. Aber dies ist nur die Spitze des HipHop-Eisbergs Essen. In der Szene wird sogar gemunkelt, dass Essen die HipHop-Hochburg des Ruhrgebietes sei.

Im Rahmen des Projekt-Seminars Mapping Hip-Hop Culture: The Ruhr Area befasste sich unsere Gruppe, bestehend aus Fabienne Strohmer, Mariana Bittermann und Julian van Essen, mit der HipHop-Szene in Essen. Da all unsere Gruppenmitglieder Studenten der Angewandten Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften sind, war das Seminar thematisch von besonderem Interesse und Nutzen für uns alle.

Während unserer Forschungsarbeit haben wir viel Zeit damit verbracht nicht nur Rap-Musik, sondern auch Graffiti, als eine weitere Unterkategorie von HipHop, in Essen zu erforschen. Dabei haben wir zahlreiche Interviews mit Sprayern, MCs und institutionellen Einrichtungen geführt, bei denen wir uns schwerpunktmäßig mit der Rolle von HipHop für die Leute und dem lokalen Wert des Genres in der Großstadt beschäftigt haben.


Das Gruppenprojekt: Eine HipHop-Landkarte von Duisburg

Während unseres Seminars Mapping Hip Hop Culture in the Ruhr Area fuhr unsere Gruppe einige Male in die Stadt Duisburg. Diese befindet sich im Westen des Ruhrgebiets und ist als ein bedeutender Industriestandort bekannt. Während unserer Besuche sprachen wir mit Involvierten der Hip Hop Szene, wie beispielsweise Erziehern und Sozialarbeitern als auch mit einem Ladenbesitzer. Duisburg-Hochfeld stach bei der Recherche als Hauptlokation der Szene heraus. Der Stadtteil weist einen hohen Immigranten- und Armutsanteil auf und zeigt Spuren der Deindustrialisierung. Vielleicht gerade wegen begrenzter Mittel fanden wir hier besonders viel Potential junger Menschen.

Der Erzieher und Rapper Tomek gab uns einen Einblick in seine Arbeit, seine Methoden und Prinzipien des Projekts „Multikulti“. Jene bestätigte der Sozialarbeiter Tony, der seit geraumer Zeit mit Jugendlichen in Duisburg-Hochfeld arbeitet. Außerdem sprachen wir mit aktiven Rappern dieser Stadt, die uns ihre Meinung und Perspektive über HipHop in Duisburg mitteilten. Während unserer Besuche, erlebten wir den Rheinpark als einen Ort, der den Leuten Raum bietet, ihre Kreativität frei zu entfalten. Aber auch der Turn Headshop gab uns einen Einblick in die HipHop-Kultur von Duisburg.

Die Erfahrungen, die wir in Hochfeld sammelten, die sozialen Probleme, aber auch die mentale Stärke und Kreativität der Menschen, erinnerte uns stark an die Bronx in New York City. Daher entschieden wir uns dafür, unser Gruppenprojekt in einer HipHop Karte von Duisburg darzustellen, in der wir unsere Ergebnisse sichtbar machen konnten. Inspirationen gab uns das bekannte Buch Born in the Bronx, welches ebenfalls eine HipHop-Karte der Bronx enthält.

Herne and its Hip Hop Activists

Agora: “We want to connect Hip Hop activists”

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Agora considers itself as a Hip Hop collective of musicians and poets. In 2015, the crew Freshe Connection (MC Verbal & Si2Dman) and the rapper and bassist Hermes Kannakis created the vision to establish Agora as an open platform for local artists. The collective seeks to encourage collaboration among various artists and musicians. They also acknowledge Hip Hop’s educational approach and  want to use it as tool for getting a message across. In this spirit they spread the values of Hip Hop across the Ruhr Area: Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun.


M.I.K.I: “My Hip Hop meeting point is my studio”


M.I.K.I, Foto: Romina Nowosatko.

Michél Puljic alias M.I.K.I is probably the most successful rapper from Herne. Born in Castrop-Rauxel, the 27-year-old rapper grew up in Herne-Börnig where he still lives today. Since 2013 he has been part of the Dortmund-based independent label Kopfnussmusik. In the same year, his first album Malochersohn entered German charts on the 94th place – quite high for an artist from the small city in the Ruhr Area.

With his music, M.I.K.I combines his three passions: soccer, rap, and the Ruhrpott. Hip Hop means to M.I.K.I more than just music as it “stands for expressing one’s opinion, also if it’s not that nice. Hip Hop stands for creativity, for many it is an outlet – for me as well.” For the whole-hearted local patroit, the Ruhr Area represents honesty, a down-to-earth attitude, and social cohesion. This can be seen in the track “Ruhrpott” which he recorded with Dortmunder artists Reece and Sonikk:


Pottporus: “We are the Center”

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Pottporus has been a registered society since 2007 and is based in Herne. It is characterized by urbanity and street art and combines those elements with established art forms. The Pottporus comprises the Junges Pottporus (Young Pottporus) addressing young people, the dance productions of the dance theater group Renegade, the annual Pottporus Urban Street Art Festival and the Danceschool. The society supports young creatives and tries to open up new perspectives for them. Pottporus considers itself as a network of artists, inspiring new ideas.