Whenever I visited my grandmother in Istanbul, Aksaray, I simply had to check out the scene on Istiklal Caddesi.  Mostly, I walked there. Back then there was no tram and I didn’t really fancy taking the bus. So I walked past Istanbul University, where my mother studied, then either through Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar) or past the Sultan Ahmet Cami ...

“Nothing passes Schöneberg 30,” raps Schöneberg rap star and Lokalmatador Alpa Gun. It’s just a couple of blocks, but  between Kleistpark and Kurfürstenstrasse, Yorkstrasse and Pallas, stretches an embattled Schöneberg neighborhood which is as ghetto as Berlin gets. Home to generations of Turks and Arabs, the neighborhood is currently fighting rising rents, junkies and ever growing prostitution scene. Schöneberg 30 ...

I grew up in deep West-Berlin, right where the city peters out into suburban villas and pinewood forest, on the outer fringes of Wilmersdorf. This was as far away from the “ghetto” as you could get.  The real so-called “ghetto” – by Berlin standards – lay elsewhere, in those mean,  grey immigrant streets of Wedding, Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Schöneberg, where the ...

I am sitting with my mother on the top of a double-decker bus in Schmargendorf. It is night and the streets are wet with puddles of glittering lights and autumn leaves, and I am eating Chinese rice crackers.  This is my first memory - a Berlin memory – a memory of a city I would come to love and hate; ...

Several new and upcoming re-issued records feature the sound of the African thumb piano mbira, from traditional to contemporary. And in at least two cases, Berlin plays a special role in the current popularity peak of the mbira sound among musicians, DJs, labels and music lovers.    The mbira is a member of the family of thumb pianos or lamellophones that ...

GERMANY'S FAVORITE ARABIC Uncle Tom – Hamed Abdel-Samad - has just come out with a new polemic, Aus Liebe zu Deutschland – Ein Wachruf(Out of Love for Germany – A Wakeup Call).  After such books as Islamische Faschismus(Islamic Fascism) and Mohammad: Ein Abrechnung (Mohammad: A Settling of Accounts), this text aims at instilling in the German public a healthy dose of national pride, necessary, in Abdel-Samad’s ...

Liraz Charhi (42) – or Liraz, as she is commonly known - is a popular Iranian-Israeli singer, who made her musical debut in 2004 coinciding with the kick start of her film career with the flick Turn Left at the End of the World. She takes inspiration from the music of pre-Revolution Iran, in particular the likes of female greats Ramesh ...

**** Nemanja’s Cosmic Disco - from a World Music perspective - isn’t what we’d expect from Croatia – specifically Istria, an historically contested region in the Adriatic, with its own special, mystical/Mediterranean vibe. Throwing together African, Cumbia, funk with a kind of predilection for far-out flower-child-era vocal samples and hippy/trippy instrumental flourishes, it is something that could be produced anywhere ...

**** Readers of Berlin Bazzar may be familiar with Parisian oud player Kamilya Jubran for her collaborative work with Swiss based trumpeter and electro-pioneer Werner Hassler. Back in 1982, while still in Jerusalem, she joined a band called Sabreen, which translates as “Those Awaiting” – an all-Palestinian band, which became the voice of the Intifada. New is that Akuphone has ...

How can someone so outright islamophobic hold a post as integration officer in Neukölln? This is the gist of the current critique by Green and Left politicians regarding Güner Yasemin Balci’s controversial selection. That  Balci (45) had been elected to such a position in such a volatile and ethnically mixed district as Neukölln came as a big surprise to me. I ...

Shortly after the release of his last album, Afropentatonism, I met with vocalist, guitar and bass player, Alhousseini Anivolla at Alexanderplatz for a Berlin Bazzar photo shoot. It was a bright and  sunny day in August. Alhousseini showed up inconspicuously clad in jeans and button-down shirt and spent a good ten minutes changing into his traditional garb, wrapping his head meticulously in a black ...

Over and over again I would hear  the famous date 1389 bantered about. For the Turks it was the date of  a decisive battle on Blackbird Field in Kosovo, which paved the way for their ultimate incursion into the Balkans and their foothold there. For the Serbs, however, it was much more loaded in import – a  date which spelled the end of ...