Gangsta Rap Can Be Political

Article published on April 14, 2014
Article published on April 14, 2014

Objectification of women, homophobia and violence: all too often rap only has discriminatory potential. That it can be done differently is demonstrated by RAPutation.tv. The political online-casting show offers young people a platform to be socially critical and engage in a political dialogue. Who is the best political rapper in Germany?

Whether a cri­tique on the un­em­ploy­ment of­fice, the school sys­tem, ho­mo­pho­bia and racism, or the de­mand that pol­i­tics should more con­sis­tently en­gage in a rea­son­able di­a­logue with young peo­ple, there is hardly a topic that hasn't been ad­dressed by the up-and-com­ing rap­pers of the on­line-cast­ing show RA­Pu­ta­tion.​tv. The show aims at help­ing them spread their po­lit­i­cal mes­sage as well as sup­port­ing their tal­ents.

Rap­pers putting them­selves in politi­cians' shoes.

Through their own tracks and po­lit­i­cal lyrics, young peo­ple com­peted for the sec­ond time for the title Deutsch­lands bester poli­tis­cher Rap­per (Ger­many's best po­lit­i­cal rap­per – ed). The best three were able to pre­sent their songs live in the fi­nale at the Kreuzberger club Bi Nuu. The as­sign­ment? Putting them­selves in the shoes of a politi­cian. 

Are politi­cians merely pup­pets? Win­ner Cossu puts this ques­tion to the test.

The win­ner is 24-year-old Cossu from Hei­del­berg. The rap­per asks him­self in his final track "Zwies­palt" whether politi­cians be­come pup­pets in the course of their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers. Does one's per­sonal opin­ion even mat­ter as politi­cian? Or do they con­form too much to the ide­olo­gies of po­lit­i­cal par­ties?

Sec­ond place went to Mars One from Düssel­dorf, while third went to 21-year-old Icarus. Since De­cem­ber of last year, 229 young artists have taken part in the com­pe­ti­tion. The can­di­dates were cho­sen via an on­line vote by no­table fig­ures in the rap scene, such as Sookee, Week­end and MoTrip, whereas in the fi­nale they were cho­sen by the au­di­ence as well.

Rap and pol­i­tics: a good com­bi­na­tion?

The fi­nal­ists agree; since being in­volved in the com­pe­ti­tion, they've be­come even more in­volved with pol­i­tics. "I tend to crit­i­cally dis­pute and get to the bot­tom of all prob­lems. Even po­lit­i­cal ones," adds teacher trainee Cossu. How­ever, not only were the tracks po­lit­i­cal, but so were the guests.

Some no­table fig­ures were pre­sent, such as Gre­gor Gysi and Katja Kip­ping (Both part of The Left), Cansel Kizil­tepe (SPD), Özcan Mutlu (The Greens), Jens Spahn (CDU) and Hans-Chris­t­ian Ströbele (The Greens). The politi­cians helped with the wardrobe, the bar or at the mer­chan­dise stand, and got in­volved in dis­cus­sions with the younger crowd. "You guys don't just con­demn pol­i­tics as out­siders. You get in­volved. And that's note­wor­thy," says Özvan Mutlu, prais­ing the rap­pers. "We can keep liv­ing in the il­lu­sion that young peo­ple are apo­lit­i­cal, but in ac­tu­al­ity all we have to do is ap­proach them!" says Gre­gor Gysi. His col­league Katja Kip­ping promised to in­clude the mes­sages of the young peo­ple in her party's work. But it re­mains to be seen whether their de­mands will ac­tu­ally be heard.