What’s the most popular music in Germany?
Casual international observers of the market might suggest the well-worn genres of rock or pop – or perhaps even the uber-traditional schlager.
Such assumptions conjure images of rock veteran Udo Lindenberg or schlager superstar Helene Fischer, and there’s no doubting that these artists still shift impressive numbers in the region.
But in recent years, Germany has witnessed an industry-shifting surge in homegrown hip-hop.
So much so, that key industry players in the movement now suggest there has never been a commercial golden age for the genre quite like now.
One driving force at the heart of the rise of urban music in Germany is the relationship between independent label Banger Musik and music publisher Warner/Chappell Music (WCM).
Their latest success story came last week when Maximum, by rappers KC Rebell and Summer Cem, went straight to the top of Germany’s album chart.
Maximum’s duo of stars are no strangers to success.
KC Rebell (signed to Warner/Chappell as a songwriter), saw his last two albums, Rebellution (2014) and Fata Morgana (2015), both go to No.1.
“There’s a huge audience here for urban music in Germany now and I’m proud I’ve helped to grow it.”
Summer Cem’s most recent album, Cemesis (2016), also topped the charts.
KC Rebell tells MBW: “My anticipation for this album was set to maximum. I really wanted to know how fans thought the record turned out and I can’t wait to tour it later this year and see their reaction.
“There’s a huge audience here for urban music in Germany now and I’m proud I’ve helped to grow it by working with amazing pop artists such as Adel Tawil to introduce our fans to each other’s music.”
The chart performance of Maximum is illustrative of the broader urban scene’s ascent in GSA.
Banger Musik was founded in 2012 by rapper Farid Bang and has been distributed by Warner Music Germany since 2015.
Since launch, the label has released 17 albums with 10 going to No.1 in the German charts.
Meanwhile, WCM says it has seen its German songwriters earn more than 15 urban No. 1s on Germany’s album charts, with 12 titles certified as Gold and two as Platinum, over the last two years.
Farid Bang comments: “I’m so proud of KC and Summer Cem for the success of this album. The whole urban scene in Germany is exploding.
“The whole urban scene in Germany is exploding. I can’t think of a time when the odds for an urban artist blowing up in Germany were higher than they are now.”
Farid Bang, Banger Musik
“I can’t think of a time when the odds for an urban artist blowing up in Germany were higher than they are now.
“It’s very tough to predict the future of the genre in the long run, but I am certain that great talent and good music will always prevail and that urban music is here to stay in Germany.”
Warner/Chappell is making a big play to establish itself as a central force in this ‘explosion’ of hip-hop and urban music.
Other notable urban songwriters on WCM’s books include Abaz; Ali As; Bonez MC; Genetikk; Gorex; Jasko; Joshimixu; Juh-Dee; Kontra K; Kurdo; Lance Butters; Majoe; Marteria; Olexesh; Pzy; Samon Kawamura, Samy Deluxe and NIMO.
Abaz, Joshimixu and Juh-Dee are responsible for producing 11 of the 15 tracks on Maximum, illustrating how this cohort of urban music stars are working closely together.
Natascha Augustin, Creative Director, Warner/Chappell Music Germany, explains: “When I first started to work with urban songwriters a few years ago, people were very skeptical and said to me that this music would never take off in Germany.
“But I believed in these songwriters and we put our money where our mouth was, financially investing in developing their talent. It’s amazing to see how they have now lit up the charts and taken hip hop and gangsta rap into the mainstream here.”
Lars Karlsson, Managing Director for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Nordics, Warner/Chappell Music, adds: “The success of Maximum is another milestone in the development of urban music in Germany.
“We’ve seen a new generation of songwriters succeed by writing about their experiences and connecting with a young multi-cultural fan base.
“We’ve seen the growth of grime as an authentic British urban sound, in parallel here we’ve seen German hip-hop and gangsta rap come from the streets and enter the charts.”
“We’ve seen the growth of grime as an authentic British urban sound, in parallel here we’ve seen German hip hop and gangsta rap come from the streets and enter the charts.”
Lars Karlsson, Warner/Chappell
One way the audience for urban music is expanding in Germany is through growing collaborations with stars from the world of pop.
Earlier this year, KC Rebell and Summer Cem featured on ‘Bis Hier und Noch Weiter’, a track by pop superstar Adel Tawil, which went to No.1 in the German singles chart.
Adel has returned the favour by featuring on the Maximum album track ‘Voll Mein Ding’.
Marcus Friedheim, Managing Director Sales, Warner Music Central Europe, concludes: “We’re very happy about the great success of Maximum and congratulate KC Rebell, Summer Cem and the entire Banger Musik team on their more than deserved No.1 in the Official German Album Charts.
“Both artists have been at the spearhead of the German urban music community and are setting new standards for this very successful genre in our country. We are very proud of our close ties with the leading urban music labels Banger Musik (Farid Bang) and Alpha Music Empire (Kollegah).”
To date, German hip-hop and gangsta rap hasn’t travelled internationally, but it has created a new generation of superstars – and is transforming the face of the world’s fourth largest music market.Music Business Worldwide