A slightly overlapping sequel to this “Telling of stories without claiming completeness” from 2013
by Stefan „Trishes“ Trischler (Radio FM4)
When the noughties turned into the tens, hip hop in Austria still sounded largely like the so-called “Golden Era” ideal that producers like DJ Premier, Pete Rock or Diamond D had created in the New York of the nineties: samples from soul or jazz records and dusty drums set the tone. In the birthplace of hip-hop itself, however, a completely different sound was already dominating: the powerful bass of the TR-808 drum machine. In the 80s, this had already provided the background for songs by New York icons such as Afrika Bambaataa, T La Rock and the Beastie Boys, but had then faded into the background in favor of samples. In the rap scenes of southern larger cities like Atlanta, Houston, Memphis or New Orleans, however, the more electronic beats with a heavy lot of low frequencies remained the standard. And when stars like Ludacris, the Three 6 Mafia or Lil Wayne had international hits, the southern sound became the new blueprint for how rap sounds today – with some delay in its arrival in Austria. In our radius, the catch phrase “cloud rap” was often used to describe the sound, but this is an inadequate description of the various musical directions.
Linz rapper and producer BumBum Kunst first appeared as part of Engelstaub and presented a Dirty South-inspired variant of dialect rap on his solo album “Perpetuum Mobile” at the end of 2006. Shortly after, he teamed up with rapper Markee aka Tibor Foco aka Jack Untawega (and later Kroko Jack). The exceptional artist had already radically raised the standard for dialect rap as part of bands like Das Rückgrat or Markante Handlungen; in the duo Sodom & Gomorrah he now did the same with a new sound and more dancehall reggae influences. The two also briefly became magnets for the Slangsta Movement, to which Die Vamummtn from Vienna or MOZ from Salzburg also belonged. Kroko Jack returned in 2017 with the “Extra Ordinär” album, Bum Bum Kunst is currently working with Skero on the Maasnbriada project.
The uncompromising Tibor Foco album “Andagraund” from 2006 also featured RAF as guest on one tune. The rapper and singer, who grew up in Vienna, was still writing French lyrics at the time and, after beginnings with groups like Rapatoi or French Connection, now belonged to Assaut Mystik. The band eventually merged with colleagues from Balkan Express to form Family Bizz and even had a record deal with the major label EMI for a short time. After the end of the group, “RafOMic” produced a German-language street rap project called “Skandal” with his ex-bandmate Emirez. Directly after that he moved to Berlin to co-produce with Austrians Chakuza & DJ Stickle aka Beatlefield, who were signed to Bushido‘s Ersguterjunge label at the time. A collaboration with his Viennese colleague Nazar, the “Artkore” album, was also made there. Several mixtapes and albums followed under the names RAF Camora and later also as RAF 3.0. With his second record “Hoch 2” the rapper and producer climbed to the top of the German album charts for the first time in 2013. But success was to take on much greater dimensions when RAF Camora teamed up with Bonez MC of the controversial 187 Straßenbande from Hamburg for the dancehall reggae and Afrotrap-inspired record “Palmen aus Plastik.” Extensive tours of the biggest concert halls followed, as well as a part 2 that dominated the top 10 charts in Germany and Austria. After the solo albums “Anthrazit” and “Zenit”, RAF Camora announced in 2019 that he now wants to focus on working behind the scenes of the music industry – in the summer of 2021, however, there are signs of a return from the short rap retirement.
The Viennese rapper delivered a showpiece of viral marketing in the fall of 2010: The video for “Dreh den Swag auf,” his reinterpretation of a track by U.S. rapper Soulja Boy, made big waves very quickly. Negative headlines about the “worst rapper of all time” (Bild) were just as irrelevant as the fact that many heard the song ironically because of the crookedly sung hook – the main thing was that they had clicked in the millions! This was followed by advertising collaborations, many appearances, which, however, always ended in turmoil – and the election of “Swag” as the German youth word of the year in 2011. In the years that followed, there were still plenty of new digital mixtapes, but also, for example, an Internet show called “Trap House Kitchen,” in which Money Boy primarily re-creates American fast food classics. In “Könnt ihr uns hören?” (“Can you hear us?”) – an oral history of German rap – Money Boy and his uncompromising approach is seen by rappers such as Haiyti as a pioneer of a new kind of rap.
In 2011 some friends in Salzburg founded a blog called Hanuschplatzflow to collect their musical discoveries. Soon, more and more of their own productions by the likes of Young Krillin, DreXor, Däk Intellekt, Lex Lugner and Crack Ignaz were posted there. The affinity with Texan rap and the “Chopped & Screwed” technique, in which the music is chopped up and slowed down, was striking. Especially the songs of Crack Ignaz quickly hit a nerve and became very popular in Germany as well – even though, in addition to his Salzburg dialect, the rapper incorporated borrowed words from “Jenisch” (the almost forgotten language of a group of travelling people) into his lyrics, making them not easy to understand even for Austrians. But the sound and the swag were so intoxicating that even the supposed language barrier north of Bavaria couldn’t stop Crack Ignaz. The first vinyl-single, as well as the first two albums, were released on labels in Cologne, and even after that the rapper, who lived in Vienna for a time, largely oriented himself towards Germany. The last album “Sturm & Drang” was released by Crack Ignaz independently in 2020.
Hailing from Vienna’s 22nd district, the rapper quickly docked with Salzburg’s Hanuschplatzflow after initial musical experiments and made collaborative songs with Young Krillin, but mainly with producer Lex Lugner. The video for “Nein”, released in June 2015, clearly hit a nerve with its nihilistic party attitude and Viennese tone, and quickly spread throughout the German-speaking world. Within a few months, many releases like the “Wiener Linien” EP and the mixtapes “22” and “Krocha Tape” sprung up, who mostly records his songs freestyle in the studio. The track “Bianco”, produced by Lex Lugner, became a real summer hit in 2016 and also made Yung Hurn‘s German guest RIN quite famous overnight. After musical excursions in the direction of retro pop (with the Love Hotel Band) or house (“Popo”), there was another catchy rap tune in 2018 with “OK Cool” and the accompanying album “1220” (the postal code of his home district of Vienna-Danube City). At the end of 2019, “Y”, the last Yung Hurn album to date, was released, but was received rather critically due to partly sexist lyrics.
The first musical sign of life of the rapper, originally from the Salzburg area, still had a very classic sound: the “Austrophobie” EP in 2012 combined classic boom bap beats by producer Tactik with socio-critical observations of a young man who grew up in rural Austria with dark skin. Racism, unfortunately, remained an issue that was to preoccupy him again and again: an aggressive police check in a Viennese park led to a media outcry in 2018, because T-Ser and colleagues like Sydney and Meydo from the label Akashic Recordz had filmed everything. He was also at the forefront of the impressive “Black Lives Matter” protests in Vienna. Currently, the Viennese artist prefers to lay his highly precise raps on drill beats, although one can also hear more nostalgic songs from him like “Nikes”.
Born in Vienna but raised in Lower Austria’s Mostviertel region, Monobrother has rapped uncompromisingly in dialect over sample beats from the start. On 2009’s debut album “Haschgiftspritzer” battle rap still dominated; on the follow-up “Unguru,” the rapper demonstrated not only sophisticated technique but also a very precise gift of observation. In songs like “Modernisierungsverwirrter” he reflected on precarious working conditions and moral pitfalls in the age of late capitalism. In 2019, Monobrother then delivered his masterpiece to date with “Solodarität,” where inner-city gentrification battlegrounds get their share just as much as the wasteland of the country – not only in the district of Amstetten, where the rapper has spent a lot of time. With the Honigdachs label, Monobrother is running what is currently the most important platform for dialect rap, where artists such as Kardinator, Fate, Katharsis, Siebzig Prozent and Kreiml & Samurai are also releasing their records.
The two rappers made their first steps as part of the crew Wienzeile with High German lyrics, but then decided as a duo to focus on the slang of their hometown. With the “Schweinehund” as their heraldic animal, the two are rapping mainly about idleness, excess and the gruesome sides of Vienna – but are also taking a clear stand against right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism. With their first trilogy of records, the often catchy choruses and always energetic concerts, Kreiml & Samurai managed to build a large fan base over the course of the 2010s. The last album “Auf Olle 4re” was musically completely designed by Viennese producer Brenk Sinatra.
The outstanding Viennese producer molded, together with Fid Mella in 2014 on “Chop Shop 2 – Singende klingende Unterwelt”, exclusively Austrian samples into a fascinating sound universe full of pimps, stabbings and smoky brandy pubs. On the following two “Midnite Ride” records he sketched his perfect soundtrack for nightly car rides, which also brought noticeably the lowered beats from Memphis and Houston to the foreground. In between, there were several albums Brenk recorded with rappers: 2017 saw the release of both “Hexenkessel” with German underground heroes Morlockk Dilemma, and after a long wait, “Which Way Iz West” by West Coast legend MC Eiht. The following year, the Viennese producer teamed up with Said from Berlin and produced the “HAQ” album. After that he devoted himself to business and built up the sample platform Hi-Hat Hustle as well as the new label Wave Planet Records, on which his new album “Boss Spieler Universität” is being released.
The rapper and singer took her first steps in Salzburg’s hip-hop scene – and also had early contacts with Hanuschplatzflow there. While she still rapped over classic hip hop instrumentals at the very beginning, she changed the approach together with her musical partner Melonoid until the first mixtape “Zum Mond” appeared: there, mostly calm electronic beats were the underlay for her dialect raps and vocals. On the 2017 debut album “Schmetterlinge” (“Butterflies”) this formula was refined even more, and for the follow-up “Chicago Baby” the musician, who now lives in Vienna, put the focus more on the vocals and catchy songs.
Producer Melonoid is also part of the trio Diskoromantik and works with the label Heiße Luft. This was launched in 2018 and initially released more classic-sounding hip hop. In the meantime, the musical focus of artists such as JerMC/Dyin Ernst, HipHop Joshy, Dirtysanchez or Tudas has shifted noticeably in the direction of trappy current beats.
In the 13 years of its existence the Vienna-based label has already released a variety of sounds: dialect rap, turntable music, rocking crossover sounds, but also soul or relaxed and more complex hip hop beats. Among the label’s standout acts are producer and singer The unused word, Tyrolean dialect rap project Von Seiten der Gemeinde or Restless Leg Syndrome, where three DJs Chrisfader, Testa and DBH (formerly of Total Chaos) build danceable tracks based on North African or Tyrolean samples. A single by the eexceptional rapper Worst Messiah (f.k.a. Mista Wisdom) and the two comeback albums of the legendary Viennese turntable crew Waxolutionists appeared on the label as well – and with artists like P.Tah, Con and Kinetical there’s also a strong grime faction.
The label centered around Texta has been around for more than two decades, and starting in the 10s, bands like Hinterland, Da Staummtisch or Average & Url were in its spotlight. Together with Kayo and Texta, the aforementioned recorded a second TTR Allstars album in 2018. The Linz hip-hop legends themselves had to cope with the departure of Skero in 2013 and the death of their friend and bandmate Huckey five years later, but have announced a new record for next fall.
With her debut album “Keep It Realistisch” (“Keep it Realistic”), the rapper, slam poet and writer confidently took the stage in 2011 and eloquently put chauvinists in their place. Two years later, the Viennese expanded the thematic spectrum on “Kein Platz für Zweifel” (“No Room for Doubt”) to include anti-racist discourse, among other things. After an excursion into grime under the alter ego Miss Lead, Yasmo began working with the up to nine-member band Klangkantine, which provided an organic live sound between funk and big band jazz. With the following two albums, the rapper and her band toured the country, not least at the 2018 Amadeus Awards, where the song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” became a feminist all-star moment.
Fusions between jazz and hip-hop were pursued in Austria in several places, first with SK Invitational, the hip-hop-heavy big band by Stephan Kondert. On the two albums “Raw Glazed” and “Golden Crown” they had Austrian artists like Lylit or Flip from Texta as guests, as well as the sadly deceased British rapper Ty or the New York legends M.O.P.. The Vienna-based Jahson The Scientist also played a lot with the band, but he continues to cultivate his improvisational approach in the group Sketches On Duality. Singer Soia is as close to soul and jazz as she is to organic hip-hop beats, as she most recently demonstrated impressively on her album “Where Magnolia Grows”.
The Viennese rapper also has an education in jazz and sang in a band for several years before turning to rap and voice with Universal’s Mom I Made It label. The very 808-heavy songs of her debut EP “Donna” and also the singles that followed focused on female self-confidence and body positivity, but also the struggle with mental health. After high-profile guest appearances on the albums of Trettmann or Felix Kummer (Kraftklub) in Germany, one can be curious about KeKe‘s debut album.
After several early EPs with Future Beats-influenced songs, the singer and multi-instrumentalist produced the terrific “Geld Leben” (“Money Life”) album for Crack Ignaz and also delivered some deep-level rap verses himself as Phatman. In 2017, he released his debut album “It’s All Good Tho” on Affine Records, which skillfully combined hip-hop and lo-fi soul aesthetics. A tour with Bilderbuch followed, but after that the young musician withdrew to take care of his mental health. He then processed the abysses he had experienced on his second record “Womb” in 2020 and also maintained lively exchanges with hip hop producers such as Torky Tork and Fid Mella.
Although many of the songs sound like pop today, Mavi Phoenix‘s roots are clearly in rap. Back in 2014, the first mixtape “My Fault” was released as a free download and songs like “Green Queen” quickly went viral. The largely self-produced tracks with the English autotune vocals sounded very international and were therefore also noticed outside the Austrian borders. In the fall of 2019, Mavi announced that from now on he would live as a man, and the following year the musician’s debut album “Boys Toys” was released. The last single “Nothing Good” (spring of 2021) indicated a stronger orientation towards guitar pop.
About two years ago, the rapper MILE, originally from Graz, met the producer Marco Kleebauer in Vienna. The former had previously made a name for himself with electronic songs influenced by current US rap, while the latter, in addition to his band Leyya, had also worked as a producer for Bilderbuch, for example, and had previously tinkered with experimental beats as Karma Art. The first songs were still based on classic soul samples, but over time their own instrumentation took up more and more space in the sound mix. Since the addition of Katrin Paucz on guitar and vocals, Sharktank has become an organic band somewhere between hip-hop and psychedelic pop, that also knows how to perform live in an even larger line-up.
Actually Kathrin Kolleritsch comes from pop, has already played with the band Kaiko and can currently be heard in My Ugly Clementine on drums and vocals. At the same time, the rhythm of rap has always been an inspiration, which ultimately led to the start of the Kerosin95 project. With classic hip-hop beats, trap rhythms or even acoustic sounds in the background, Kerosin tells tragic but also funny stories from the life of a person who does not bow to the traditional binary gender order and is also constantly antagonized because of it.
The supergroup came together when Berlin rappers Donvtello and Opti Mane spent a few days with producers Lex Lugner and Fid Mella and rapper/singer Jamin around a Vienna concert in May 2019. What was initially planned as studio sessions for individual songs together grew into an entire week, at the end of which the self-titled album “Silk Mob” was almost finished. The silky, Southern U.S.-influenced timbre and laid back raps about staying home and spending entire days in a bathrobe seemed like a prophetic soundtrack to the first lockdown weeks when the record was released in late March 2020.
In 2013, the “Blausicht” album provided a convincing blueprint for emotional rap songs that are not afraid of melodies and a decent pop factor. The Viennese rapper has continued on this path, which has also received considerable attention in Germany, with the two following records “Neue Welt” (“New World”) and “AAA”. The latter was already released on his own label Future’s Future, through which Gerard later also supported acts like FARCE or Naked Cameo and rappers like Edwin, YUGO or SLAV. Meanwhile he’s living in Berlin and works for the German label Four Music.
After first steps as part of a band called Sprachsex, Jugo Ürdens released his first EP “Ajde” in 2016. In the song “Österreicher” (“Austrian”) the Viennese with Macedonian roots talked about his joy of finally getting the “red-white-red passport”. In self-produced songs, the young rapper combined good technique with self-ironic lyrics about his life between the University of Economics and Ottakringer Street (where the ex-Yugoslavian diaspora meets every weekend in numerous bars and clubs). The title track of his debut album “YUGO” finally paid tribute to the notorious Balkan small car, but then also became the new artist name. In 2020, after a longer break, YUGO reported back with the “Babylon EP”, which was more somber in content.
The young rapper first entered the stages as Einfachso and mostly as support for his friend and flatmate YUGO. Thanks to his roots in battle rap, he was technically very adept from the beginning and the joint concerts had a very high energy level. On records like “Plusvieracht” (“Plus Four Eight”) or “Der Pole aus Wien” (“The Pole from Vienna”) he addressed his life between two hometowns as well as sporty clothing brands or nepotism. While he usually rapped over contemporary beats from trap to drill, there was also the onomatopoeic “Udtz Udtz” EP, for instance, which was a kind of hip house revival over 4/4 rhythms.
Brilliant technique characterizes the rapper from Vienna-Landstrasse just as much as good storytelling, whether it’s about street stories or the migration route of his parents from the Balkans. On his major debut “Eva & Adam” he also had RAF Camora or Emirez as guests, and his second album “Atlas oder Nada” has just been released, on which Svaba Ortak displays even more courage for melody.
After his beats in his youth room became too loud for neighbors and parents, Bibiza built himself a basement studio in Vienna’s sixth district in his teenage years, which is still his base today. The “Copypaste” EP was the first sign of life of the rapper and producer in 2019, followed in 2020 in short intervals by the “Bis Dato” mixtape and the EPs “Tourbus” and “Cali” – musically more and more influenced by the young Prodbypengg. Around Bibiza there’s a productive clique with rappers like Liebcozy or Skofi, and recently one could also hear a “Combo” EP with his childhood friend SLAV.
The young Viennese also belongs to the bubbling young hip hop scene of the metropolis. She actually started out as a singer and wrote English songs inspired by classic R&B. It wasn’t until 2020 that she found her way to German and quickly became the talk of the town with catchy songs like “Noch down?” or “Im Kreis.” In recent months, the musician has turned more and more to rapping, which can be heard on singles like “Danke Mami” or “Aba Warum.”
Ones to watch…
London-based actor and musician Nenda combines raps in English and in the dialect of the Tyrolean Ötztal, where she grew up. In songs like “Mixed Feelings,” she reflects on the complex feelings of (non-)belonging as a BPOC Austrian in England. Salzburg’s Brown-Eyes White Boy made a splash even before his voice broke with catchy tunes like “Messer Raus” (with a Trettmann feature) and has never stopped releasing music since. Also from Salzburg comes Bacardy52, who has recently attracted positive attention with collaboration tracks and an EP. Also raised there, but now living in Vienna, Adaolisa has developed into a great R&B hope. Viennese singer Verifiziert too has delighted with her hip-hop-based songs.
by Stefan „Trishes“ Trischler (Radio FM4)
Translated from the German original by Julian Schoenfeld