Why is hip hop not poetry

Hip-hop and rap: poetry is a cult among kids

In Germany, the land of poets and thinkers, a strong poetic offspring is growing up again. Because rhyming language and the lust for words is currently celebrating a renaissance among young people - be it in the often coarse chanting of rappers from the hip-hop scene or in lyrical works of art at so-called "poetry slams". All young poets have one thing in common: their ambitious texts are homemade, direct and close to life.

Test your own compositions on the web

"You want to feel freedom / want to feel the strength in you / let yourself be seduced by fear / just don't take the first step ..." This is only a small part of the rap text that the thirteen year old Bibo put on the internet. Like him, countless teenagers do it on countless websites, exchange ideas with their own compositions and at the same time face criticism. Often the tram car turns into a stage when the kids simply rap off after school.

The enthusiasm for self-made rap is also evident in a number of projects in youth centers or communities, which enjoy great popularity across Germany, especially in metropolitan areas: Here too, hip-hop kids can demonstrate their "poet talent" and rap whatever Stuff lasts.

"I just rap what's on my mind"

This happens, for example, every Tuesday afternoon in the youth meeting point "Bunker" in Berlin-Lankwitz. There is even a small recording studio, a couple of old computers and microphones. Two supervisors are also there to work with the kids on the pieces and also take care of them that the texts are "ethically justifiable" and do not drift into the aggressive and discriminatory language of "gangsta rap" a la Bushido or Sido.

One of the young people who always come to the "bunker" is Anil: "Hip-Hop is my life," he says in a report on Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg. Anil is very spontaneous when writing texts: "I just rap whatever comes into my head. If a good part happens to slip out, I write it down immediately." And hip-hopper Cem emphasizes that his own creations are more than just a musical hobby are: "I try my life, my feelings to pack into the track, things that have shaped my heart." Mitchell also belongs to the hard core of the mostly male young rappers from the "Bunker". He hopes with his verses, with whom he began as an eight-year-old, maybe one day to become a star like his great role models.Rap is a good outlet for frustration and anger.

Serious and enthusiastic

Graduate psychologist Stefan vom Scheidt, who works in the Lankwitz "Bunker", is particularly impressed by the seriousness and enthusiasm of the young rappers: "I find it fascinating that the people, some of whom have not been to school for a long time, come here take a pen in hand and write texts, ”he says in the article. The resulting verses are more to the teenagers than just words. You consciously perceive the rhythmic chanting as a valve and try to reduce anger and frustration.

Journalist Klaus Farin, who has been running the "Archive of Youth Cultures" in Berlin for years and who collects and evaluates everything that has to do with youth scenes, knows that these young rappers are part of the world's largest and most creative youth culture with their passion and trends: "In every city in Germany there are active rappers. No youth culture before has motivated so many young people, who are supposedly becoming more and more speechless, to deal with the language, its reality, their fears, wishes and To reflect on dreams so intensely. Rap ​​is currently the most important authentic cultural mouthpiece of the youth. "

Technology, flow and freestyle

However, passion and enthusiasm are not enough to fully rap. Anyone who wants to master spoken chanting has to learn a certain technique and practice a lot. Because it is important to bring the meter and the emphasis of the lyrics in line with the music and the tempo of the "beats". Characteristic is also a high speed of speaking combined with a continuous flow of the voice, the so-called "flow". A special challenge is the supreme discipline "freestyle". Here the rapper, who is also called "MC" (Master of Ceremony) in technical jargon, tries To improvise his rhymes in front of an audience. Often he goes into the content of the concrete situation or the audience and tries to add snappy humor in the text. The "battling" is also one of the typical hip-hop rituals. Then the kids join so-called "Jams" and measure their skills against each other - like in a sporting competition. That brings the special charm. It is also allowed to "Dissen" and to sing about his "Disrespect" in the verses of a rap competitor.

"There are no real instructions for rap"

Although there are numerous rhyme instructions including rhyming machines for finding suitable words for docile rap students, die-hard hip-hoppers strictly reject such formal aids as dishonorable and spurious. Rapper Will makes this credo clear in a chat: "There are no real instructions for rap. Of course you could tell everything about double rhymes, rhyme schemes, tact and so on, but basically it all has to come from the feeling. The best is always nor to listen to good rap as much as possible, then this feeling will probably come by itself at some point. "

Word acrobats at poetry slams

The so-called poetry slams, the poet battles that came to our stages from the USA at the end of the 90s, also show that hip rhyming culture is not only found among hip-hoppers. Here young hobby poets - often still students - stand on stage without musical support and perform their works, which are either poems or short prose, in competition in front of an audience. The focus is on the creation of language. Recitations by other authors as well as costumes and props of any kind are therefore prohibited. Only your own text and your voice, which can be used in all nuances from whispering to screaming, count in the approximately five-minute long performance. That doesn't mean, however, that poetry always has to come across as serious and difficult in literary terms. As a rule, those "slammers" who, like commedians, rely on humor and funny word juggling are the most successful.

Champion Julian Heun "slammed" as a student

The cult around these "poetry competitions" is now so great that there are real star poets. The best and most original often have more than a quarter of a million clicks on YouTube. That is remarkable for literary contributions. One of the most successful word acrobats is him Julian Heun, now twenty-two-year-old from Berlin, who was given the title of "Poetry King" by Spiegel, is now an old hand, because at the age of 15 he began to write poetic texts with the support of workshops and passionately slam them “This has brought him several championship titles in this country to this day and in 2009 he took fourth place at the Slam World Championship in Paris.

A deeper meaning doesn't have to be

Julian Heun describes himself on his website as a "verse maker" and entertainer and describes to the youth online magazine "Blaue Narzisse" that poetic creativity does not always have to have a deeper meaning: "Wanting to say something is slightly naive and difficultly wonderful Thing. Fantastic when listeners take something away, when a text stands in the thinking space longer than its sound ... It doesn't always have to be clear ... How terrible it would be if you always understood everything in the world. "

Julian Heun sees the only similarities between rapping and slamming as the external "poetic" form and the fact that the performances are held as a competition in front of an audience. Therefore, he cannot imagine presenting his verses in the style of hip-hop: "I am listening." also rap, but I also look at pictures without having to paint all the time. In the end, that's not my form of expression, and I couldn't do it that well either. "

Schools use the desire to rhyme

What both "poetry disciplines" have in common, however, is that self-made poetry is very popular with young people. This rediscovered desire for language is now increasingly being used by educators. For several years there have been efforts to bring "slamming" as a lively form of communication for literature to as many pupils as possible. With the help of further training for teachers and workshops at schools, the phenomenon has spread over time, and many ambitious young poets are now also taking part in regular poetry slams for children between eight and fourteen years of age (poetry kids) or for under 20-year-olds (U20 poetry slam) in smaller cities. Seventeen-year-old Ralf, who has also found a taste for poetry, brings us the advantages of the competitions on read-in-deutschland.de - a platform for reading promotion - in a nutshell: "Through U20 slams many young people discover their talent and are motivated to fight for their hobby. Usually we don't even know about poets our age that they exist. "

The kids' attitude towards life is reflected

The former high school teacher and media researcher Petra Anders, who also organized the U20 poetry slam in Berlin in 2007, knows what makes this trendy poetry so special, especially for young people: "The young slammers mainly talk about everyday situations that are familiar to everyone Slam texts are often characterized by youth language and quotations from the media, so that young people can connect with their own environment and their authentic language, ”she explains in read-in-deutschland.de a certain nonchalance that perfectly reflected the children's attitude towards life. Educational studies also found that the compact and manageable form, similar to song lyrics, is also very convenient for the kids and also the communicative attitude, namely to present or hear poetry orally, a much more intense perception of language scored than just reading them.