A month ago I was declared dead by the Turkish media. Literally. An Instagram posted this bit of misinformation, and as a result I received condolences on my social media portals. It wasn’t me who died, rather arabesk soul singer Volkan Bekar, who recorded “Yalan Dolan” on the compilation “Yeralti operation” together with Mr. L in 1996. One of the most gifted – and the first – arabesk soul singers in Germany and Turkey. Allah ramet etsin. I hadn’t heard the track in ages. A well known rapper known as Tepki posted this in his story and so the rumor started to circulate. One misunderstanding after another. Upon getting in touch with Tepki, he confided in me that he always sang along to the hook. For those of you who might be unaware of the fact, I’m the one who has pushed the agenda of Turkish hip-hop since the ‘90s. Although we kanaken were the first to get mixed up with hip-hop in Germany (see Islamic Force), white German hip-hop somehow never picked up on this and gave honor where honor was due. Now the Fantastische Vier are regarded as the Old School fathers of German rap in dubious hip-hop magazines, which is totally ridiculous. Just to set the record straight, back then Fantastische Vier wasn’t even regarded as rap, never mind hip-hop. We kanaken had to justify ourselves in the media for rapping in Turkish, had to suffer the indignity of being branded “immigrant rap”, avoided by the media for the most part. We had to sit back and listen to white middle class rappers explain that there were no ghettos, no social problems and no racism in Germany. The Germans weren’t witnesses to these things. We Turks were. Thus, we never cropped up in the media. At the same time we became stars in Turkey. Despite the fact that we always regarded Turkish hip-hop as part of the German hip-hop scene. This belongs to the theme of racism in the music business, and you will definitely hear more from me on this subject in coming months. For the moment, however, I am using this instance to draw attention to the current status of Turkish hip-hop, rap or trap. Some of you may regard the aforementioned things as separate genres, but I’ll lump them all together, otherwise we will be getting dangerously close to some kind of nerd article, which won’t interest most of our readers.
Just as in Germany, hip-hop, rap and trap in Turkey have not merely evolved; they have become the most popular Music genres by a longshot – totally mainstream. This state of affairs was presaged by Ceza’s hit “Fark var” (there is no difference). It’s been already some time now that Ceza and others like Ezhel has been garnering immense hits and followers on Instagram and youtube. Turkish rap became so popular that formats like “o ses türkiye rap” comparable to “american idol” made it to prime tv and streaming services.
To be sure Ceza is still the unparalleled first rapper and most well-known figures in Turkey, as well as one of the fastest rappers in the world, which one song alone will bear his laurels: Tech N9ne‘s “Worldwide Choppers” ft. Busta Rhymes, Yelawolf, Twisted Insane, Ceza, JL, Twista, U$O & D-Loc.
However, in the time being, there are a whole slew of rappers that everyone knows: Ezhel, Ben Ferro, Gazpizm, Kohontkar, Tepki, Şehinşah, Yener, Selo, Sayedar, just to mention a few names – and of course Ayben, the most famous female rapper in the business. Killa Hakan, with his song „Fight Klüb“ (64 million clicks), has managed to unite three rappers in one track – artists who wouldn’t normally have anything to do with each other, and to put it mildly, don’t really enjoy each other’s company, but who came together purely out of respect for the Old School, to which Killa Hakan as former member of Islamic Force, doubtless belongs. This track was the occasion of a lot of hype and much discussion, and of course a lot of envy and speculation. In an interview he explained what lay behind this track. Ceza and Killa Hakan have known each other for a while now, and this is not the first song they have collaborated on, nor will it be the last. Ben Ferro approached him with a joint photo. Killa Hakan had a gig in Antalya at the time. Ben Ferro was very young, impressionable and inspired, in the time being himself a rap star, though not uncontested. Ezhel was living in Berlin at the time, had a tattoo of Boe B from legendary Islamic Force. I think the stories speak for themselves. All gone over ad Infinitum by the dubious paparazzi shows broadcasted across the ether and watched mainly by bored housewives after their children have gone off to school. It doesn’t get more mainstream. To sum things up – this is just a quick intro to the subject of hip-hop in Turkey, which is no easy business. For the past couple of years one has had to pay special attention to the texts by known rappers, for the simple reason that if one is not careful, one might end up in the clink. Turkish style – that’s just how it is.
Peace Volkan T error