Which mainstream rapper has the most albums?
"It's amazing that gangsta rap is mainstream music"
Rapper Prezident on the German hip-hop scene - Interview 04/20
choices: Prezident, your tour planned for April had to be postponed due to corona. But your new album "Alles ist voll von Göttern" entered the German charts at number 7. A great success for you?
Prezident: I really enjoyed that. The plan was to show that I am not the branch phenomenon to the extent that I am partially seen. In addition, Vinyl Digital and I wanted to repeat or top the success of "Limbus" and that worked out even better than expected. We knew what commercial potential there was and then we generously used the mechanisms with which we were placed in the charts In the end it’s quite a fool.
What kind of mechanisms are these and where is the kidding?
It's all about sales, not units. That's why all German rappers do such weird, expensive boxes - which I always found very silly. But with all the free download stuff that I pull out in between, I still have material up my sleeve and so in this case you could add the two parts of "Interesseloses Disease" with Msnthrp to the CDs and records as bonus material if you can get rid of a 500-run edition of a 4-way vinyl box for just under 50 euros, then you are already relatively stable in terms of sales figures. And we have chosen a good week. I think these three-month promo phases are common in Germany - which also have the point of driving up pre-sales for the crucial first week - terrible anyway and try to keep it crisp. As a side effect, we had the advantage of being able to wait and see when others publish. And then you can choose: "Gzuz, Finch anti-social, I want to pass it", we release a week later. Because I know that they sell more than me. We then chose a good week and that's how it came about.
How would you define the line of business you are seen in?
For a long time, I was very much under the radar - so mostly under the industrial radar. My first things were already celebrated, but the more professional the people were in the scene, the less it cared about it. Then I started to address it self-deprecatingly. This is how this outsider and underground image came about, which has long been a bit outdated: Of course I'm not Sido and I don't want to be Sido either, but I think things are going better with me than with many more hyped artists in mine Segment. I wanted to make that clear with this publication.
If you google you, it says that you are a German rapper. People like Capital Bra, Apache, Kollegah or the 187 Strassenbande are often associated with this first. Do you have the impression that you are seen in the same drawer?
I do not think so. You already have an inkling that rap is very diverse. Since the beginning of rap in Germany, for example, the Fantastischen Vier have been present to the mainstream audience as a bourgeois non-ghetto rap variant, even if only certain sections of rap receive attention in certain parts of media reporting - the Hype Awards, where This Eno-Mero-Bero scene took place exclusively, were a blatant example. And a fine debacle. In any case, anyone who deals with rap even a little should have an idea that the genre is very diverse. When it is said that someone does German rap, you have very little information at first, because there is a wide range of styles.
You once rapped that you couldn't be grasped "with this scene as a frame of reference".
Yes, I would say I do my own thing as much as possible.
Hip-hop is also often viewed as stupid. Yes, it is partly.
Yes, it is. But that is not what I am delimiting myself from. Hip-Hop has its idiocies, but you have them everywhere and I think that no matter where I was, I would feel the need to fall out of the ordinary. In the recent past I've had a little contact with theater people who, for example, didn't seem particularly clever to me either. You come across cliché figures everywhere - and in front of several people in a heap it gives me the creeps.
In any case, with your university background you do not correspond to the cliché of a rapper.
Well, it's not that unique either. And with my content and musical orientation, there is already a branch or a sub-genre in which you can locate me and come across something comparable - all the Morlockks and Job and Degenhardts and whoever else is listed as a similar artist on Spotify . It's kind of like a scene of its own that is very active, receives attention and is also successful, it doesn't matter whether - as I said - some parts of the reporting only depict other parts of the genre. Conversely, I, who actually always had a pretty good overview, don't even know the majority of this Hype Awards mode Mio scene. Overall, there is simply more and it is no longer as clear as it was 20 years ago.
Does hip-hop need more differentiated genre names? They exist but are rarely used.
In contrast to rock with all its subdivisions, it is striking how completely different styles, both musically and in terms of content, run under the genre name "Hip-Hop". You would not lump Metallica and The Doors in the same pot as it does in rap, if Apache and Blumentopf, Roc Marciano and Travis Scott are all considered "hip-hop".
To what extent is your music shaped by the fact that you are from Wuppertal?
I don't know whether Wuppertal has specifically shaped my music, but the area here in western Germany, between the Ruhrpott and the Rhine region, already has a certain, rather dark sound and a way of rapping with a special sense of humor and at the same time special seriousness. In Berlin rap, for example, you have more exaggerated elements. It's more serious and artistic here.
On your new album you speak of the "groundhog", you say that the audience wants to hear more and more of the familiar. At the same time, you want to develop yourself further.
There's this tendency to "do what you've done before". It's difficult as a rapper to develop further, but at the same time to remain true to yourself. Most fail because of that. They are good for an album and then will it's either weird or they get stuck. Few can develop further without alienation from what made you great.
How did your sound develop in the course of your career?
The starting point was a rather dark New York sound, based on Wu-Tang and Queensbridge, but always with the aim of not simply copying it. That's actually the big constant. You then take in industrial elements or trip-hop elements, for example, in order not to reproduce this film. I tried that myself when I was producing. But then my musical abilities are limited. This desire to do something different has penetrated, sometimes more and sometimes less, from the people I have worked with. More like Dizztorted Views, it had its very own drum sound. Not so much with Epic Infantry: A lot of French, also rather dark New York-inspired boom bap flowed into it. Basically, together with my producers, I have always tried to record different things, but still stay true to one line, change the formula a bit - as DJ Premier once said: "We update our formula".
How does your new album differ from the last ones in terms of sound?
It is more accessible again and ties in with "Art is a possessive mistress" after my sound with "Limbus" and "You have already understood me" has become increasingly bulky. The new album is more melodic, has more and stronger ones Refrains, is musically more versatile and open - without the risk of drifting even remotely into pop.
In the course of your career you have been inspired by, among others, Charles Bukowski, Franz Kafka and de Sade. What were your inspirations for the new album?
For this album I couldn't name anything in terms of inspirations that are decisive alone. When I made the leap from Battlerap as EMP to Prezident in 2005, Tom Waits and Bukowski were clearly great role models and inspirations. But now I have my artistic identity, my repertoire, in a sense a basic stock that defines the Prezident cosmos. This is no longer turned to the left by any new influence.
What about the two "Citadel" tracks, which are somewhere between utopia and dystopia?
"Citadel, Center", Part 1, is a utopia that should sound like a dystopia. Above all, it was important to me that there was no sarcasm and no exaggeration into the negative; that above all, what the steel woman says, everyone should first sign would: the enlightenment consciousness. Track 1 describes a perfect world. The gag is then in "Citadel, Periphery", part 2, that this perfect world is so boring that people then move to the ghetto or semi-ghetto, wherever there is the loo halfway up the stairs and everything is a bit archaic; that it is precisely the educated and civilized from this utopian world that romanticize it unrestrainedly. That is, of course, a comment on this attraction from Berlin to suburban youth and a bit of a continuation of "About two different types of goodness", which is also about the unreflective idealization of the "noble savage". However, this time it is not a polemic, but simply a representation: an ambivalent drawing of a modern contradiction that nothing needs to go beyond. There is no need to make a final assessment.
Dystopias start from an actual state that is commented on and criticized. Is the duality between prosperity and poverty, between the first and third world, also discussed?
And is "Zitadelle, Peripherie" about people who grow up in sheltered circumstances, but then listen to gangsta rap in order to feel tough?
Sure, that goes very well with rap. Whereby it's not specifically about rap, but basically about the romanticization of the socially marginalized as the authentic, the real, the contradiction that modern, civilized people banish certain delinquent behavior patterns with increasing educational work and increasing peacefulness, but at the same time celebrate the uncivilized. This is not rap-specific: Since the study of man in the 18th century, a preoccupation with the marginalized, the remote and the evil has been observed, which amounts to romanticizing this and taking it as what is actually human. According to the motto: "Where there is a deficiency, where something goes wrong, there is real life". It has something of a decadence phenomenon. Gangsta rap is perhaps the entertainment branch that drives it to the most amazing heights Imagine you have a time machine and you look at what was in the charts in 1990 and then you go to 2020 or 19 and see what lyrics are in the mainstream. I'm not talking about any Satanist Metal- Bands that sell 500 records, but from what has really been heard a million times. And that's such a Gzuz, with absolutely anti-social stuff. When you read the lyrics of a Gzuz album, it's amazing that it's mainstream -Music is, gangsta rap is a remarkably unquestioned phenomenon. At the same time, the repeatedly flaring up, but rather special and fragmented discussions about misogyny and homophobia show that these contradictions are not acceptable ht can handle, because rap journalists in particular do not want to admit: The romanticization of barbarism is part of the Enlightenment project as a dark side. With its political correctness boost, German rap journalism has maneuvered itself into a mess over the past five years.
In "Jamais-Vu" you talk about relationship problems. Can you say something about the background?
In a biographical sense? The track was made over a fairly long period of time and has survived several relationships. Of course, my own experience flows into this, but like some rappers I know who keep their texts so diary-like and authentic, I don't work. If the lyrics are different from what it really was, then I write what is best for the song. For example, if I want to emphasize the moment of stubbornness, then I don't care if stubbornness was also such a problem in the real relationship.
"A Toast" is another remarkable track. How do you come up with the imagery in your language?
It is actually a classic, antiquated narrative ideal to describe things vividly and in detail, like in a Thomas Mann novel. From there you have a nice starting point to drift off into the absurd a little like Doppelkopf earlier by anthropomorphising the abstract: "Have a nice day memories, you stay with us for dinner". The memories become living people and gather around the host, who is making a toast speaks and bleeds to death. But I don't know what that means. It's more about creating atmosphere. Actually, the track was actually planned as the third verse of "Antimidas".
Texts can often not be interpreted clearly and you do not know what the artist was thinking. Is there a right and a wrong in your art or is everything in the eye of the beholder?
There is no right, but there are many wrong. At least that is what I would say as a Germanist. There are certainly readings that are clearly wrong because the text simply does not allow it. Exactly reading or listening is a highly underestimated work step and a less common skill. There are an infinite number of different interpretations and readings and none "correct" in the sense that this would exclude all others, if only because texts - like everything else - can be examined for very different aspects. And art should actually always have several Have levels of meaning and offer diverse approaches to the subjective.
In hip-hop, authenticity is considered a high value. It's called "Keep it real". At the same time, every child in school learns to separate the author from the lyrical self. How much Viktor is in Prezident?
I would not separate in the sense of a fictional character, rather Prezident Viktor is in a certain speech mode. You could perhaps also compare it with social roles: As a son, you are a different person than you are as a lover. What I do artistically is a certain facet on my part. In addition, of course, it is artistically processed. But I don't slip into a role as a fictional character. I don't put on a costume when I go on stage and I am someone else when I go back down. That with the lyrical self is something different: It is above all a heuristic means - instead of naively combining the author and speaking authority of a text and thinking that Goethe speaks to you when you read a Goethe poem, you separate there first and concentrate on what is in the text. The separation is actually not so clear: Günter Grass writes differently than Goethe just because of the epoch and the world knowledge that one has in the 20th century - or one reads a text by Grass differently than one by Goethe.
One of your albums was called "Art Is A Possessive Beloved". On the other hand, you once rapped about "fear of insignificance" and that it was "pissing in the ocean" to release albums because so many appear inflationary. So are you disappointed?
Yes, there is the mood. You put a lot of work into it and objectively your release disappears in the sea of publications. But of course you go on tour anyway and have fun, that's just a different mood.
At the end of the album you describe yourself as a "godless mocking bird". For several years you have been disillusioned, nihilistic, cynical and ridiculed for political activism. Why?
First of all, I would say that I ridicule actionism above all or, for the most part, not even actionism, but symbolism and gossip. Journalists seem to find it incredibly difficult to grasp this. This seems like a professional déformation: since journalists are people whose professional tool of choice is the word, they tend to overestimate the power of the word. I do not share this exaggerated belief and I find this symbolic activism, which is so virulent in times of social media - taking a position, setting signs, expressing the "right" opinion again particularly loudly, writing down or posting, so the so-called virtue signaling - simply monkey Incidentally, "bad" opinions also seem to me to be greatly overrated.People who are pro something but do nothing but sit with their ass on the couch and tweet their goodness hate people who are against something but do nothing but sit with their ass on the couch and, in the worst case, you Contra to tweet. That is ridiculous. Furthermore, I am skeptical of utopian thinking. You could say that I am conservative, according to Luther's phrase, “It's easy to change the world. It's hard to improve it. "You can certainly change something in your immediate vicinity, not act like an asshole towards your neighbors and certainly change things in your area for the better, build a sports field or something for the kids in the neighborhood it just gets difficult. That's where I see the complexity and opacity of this world and the limits of planned good action. That doesn't mean that there is nothing that is not worth fighting for and situations in which one can fight. But our modern one Age is inherent in the belief that the world can be formed without limits, which I do not share. The fact that it seems downright objectionable to cast doubt on this belief makes it more fun to play the doubter.
Would you say you are political
No, I do not think so. I observe, and my observations often go beyond what is currently happening and are a bit unfamiliar to the world and definitely unrelated to time.
So there is nothing to do with the accusation that you are on the right that came up after your last album?
The way it is meant, of course, it is nonsense.
What does "as it is meant" mean?
Wherever things got more specific, it seemed to me that positions I did not represent, that also seemed to me to be far removed from what one could read from the album - whereby rap.de-Skinny with its racism allegation and the absurd and cumbersome evidence to this has shot the bird. There are a lot of associations shot across, which I can hardly complain about, because after all, this is exactly what the "bad" album was about for me - to create the greatest possible discomfort with criticism of things that are taken for granted in the media circus about rap and beyond It is significant and logical that the allegations are usually not very specific and that what is left of them today is a vague murmur. The main aim of my ridicule was, of course, the everyday left of media actors and cultural workers - this fuss, as if the most basic sense of justice was or the handling of terms like "humanity" and "empathy" - already left and thus something like a political consciousness. Whoever thinks like that, of course, has to take ridicule of this leftism as right and defame it without noticing it. But for me that is all not on the left, but as a pretentious inflation of the self-evident, simply silly, and as long as the Mainst ream, it seems to me worthwhile to make fun of it.
So if the general mainstream were right-wing, would you speak out against the right?
Yes, anyway. I've also spoken out against positions that are more right-wing affiliated: against patriotism, belief in authority, family ideals from the 50s and the saint-or-whore discourse that is very common in rap. You can find it all in my oeuvre.
You called your music "whiskey rap". Do you still drink a lot of it?
Oh, I've hardly drunk whiskey for years and otherwise significantly less than ten years ago. In the meantime I also have a child. You can't drink that much anymore. If you know that you can't sleep in anyway, you can't drink until three in the morning.
Is the philistine life catching up with you now, before which you have always been so disgusted?
That's always on your heels anyway. But I never meant that having a child is basically stuffy. Instead, I have always resisted the view that life is over when you have a child. You don't have to suddenly become completely abstinent and become civil servants.
You worked as a lecturer at the university. Is that planned again?
No For that to make sense, I would have to get on with my doctoral thesis. And even if I feel like it, I don't have time for it. I studied German and history to become a teacher and could do my legal clerkship if I want. But I'm pretty sure I don't want to. I don't feel like being a teacher. To work at the university, in principle, yes. But that's an existential death if you don't make it to a chair. You can sink very well in the academic mid-level. In terms of knowledge, you can get to the level of a professor and still not have a permanent position. And there are really few permanent positions outside of the professorships.
But you still work as a cook on the side?
Definitely one of the fun things to do. Since I work with my head a lot at home, I just wanted to do something manual away from home again.
In the past year you published a few projects. Are you expecting more from you this year?
An album with Hinz & Kunz, completely produced by Jay Baez, has come a long way and could come autumn or winter if we keep up. Let's see if we do that.
Are you thinking of quitting
No I kept thinking to myself "It could actually be over now", but I always found something. At the moment I don't know what to do solo after the Hinz & Kunz thing, but I think yes, that will develop.
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