By Christoph Schulze
While neo-Nazi rap music started in the United States, it was and still is too obscure to make it into mainstream white power music culture. Meanwhile, the style has spread in Germany and become a growing yet controversial segment in neo-Nazi strategies to address the youth.
Half a decade ago Center for New Community’s “Turn It Down” campaign discussed the existence of rap music within the U.S. white power music scene. The conclusion back then was that while many styles of music get hijacked by racists to get their message across, hip hop culture, at large, has proven to be immune because of its commonly acknowledged roots in non-white youth cultures. After all, the notion of racist rap is just too awkward.
While it seems obvious that black music and white racism are incompatible in the U.S., the situation in Europe has developed differently.
In Germany, a small but vivid white power rap scene is blooming within neo-Nazi music subcultures. And that development probably wouldn’t have been possible without a spark from America. Neo-Nazi-themed rap music has also popped up in Poland, France, and Russia.
In 2002, a rap duo from New York City called “Neo Hate” released a demo with a circulation of just under 200 copies. The songs were abound with racist and anti-Semitic, violent lyrics. The now defunct Brandenburg-based German skinhead-fanzine, “Der Panzerbär,” published an interview with one of the two brothers involved. It may be the first mention of white power rap in Germany. The musician called his musical partner the project’s lyricist and “lampshade maker.” He boasted that a planned concert in New York had to be cancelled because, “Don had to go to prison because he beat up a Jew.”
The German interviewer from “Der Panzerbär” inquired about a possible contradiction between the musical style and the message of “Neo Hate.” The rapper claimed, “The record player, the computer, the drums – that was all invented by whites.” And according to “Neo Hate,” Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” was actually the first rap song.
That is of course, nonsense. Nonetheless, white power rap was hereby introduced to the German neo-Nazi movement.
Germany’s extreme right wing groups gain a lot of their momentum through accessing young people. A carefully orchestrated presence in different youth cultures, like hip hop, serve as an entry point.
The neo-Nazi “National Democratic Party” (NPD) – which holds seats in two state parliaments – is known for putting out a series of “schoolyard CDs” with right wing music that they distribute to youth nationwide. And hip hop happens to be one of the biggest and most popular youth cultures in Germany.
There are an estimated 15 to 20 extreme right wing rap groups in Germany currently active, although some of them remain fringe internet projects with just a few Youtube videos.
Among the most popular artists are “N’Socialist Soundsystem” (the “N” stands for “National”); “Sprachgesang zum Untergan;” “Natürlich;” and solo artists “MC Bock” and “Makss Damage.” Most of the neo-Nazi rappers have no history or ties to the mainstream or underground hip hop scenes. Rapper “Makss Damage” from Gütersloh started his musical career under the same name with left wing Stalin-ist lyrics before converting to neo-Nazism because the leftist groups seemed “too gay” for him.
These artists openly admit to being neo-Nazis and proclaim their music should be understood as a tool in the hands of the movement. “We should enter all parts of society and installing a counterculture opposing the junk of the establishment will help to do so,” says a musician from “N’Socialist Soundsystem.”
Hip Hop’s popularity is supposed to make neo-Nazi ideology more popular. Interestingly, they do not see themselves as hip hop artists. “We are national socialists and not hip hoppers. The question is whether you identify with hip-hop or if you simply use the musical style of rap. We don’t see ourselves as hip hoppers or as some ghetto kids.”
Most of these rappers don’t bother to deny that they’re appropriating a musical style, which is historically foreign to their own political culture.
“Makss Damage” shows an astonishing consciousness of what he’s doing and a bold cockiness when he raps: “I turn black music into white music – like Elvis did back in the day.”
Aside from the irony of using hip-hop to promulgate racist messages, Makss Damage and other neo-Nazi rappers also hold strong anti-American beliefs. They believe the United States is the main agent of oppression in the world, steered by a Jewish conspiracy on the “Ostküste” (east-coast) and holding down the German people.
Unsurprisingly, Nazi rap lyrics are violent and nationalist. “N’Socialist Soundsystem” present themselves as a nationalist group in a struggle against the system:
“Your rap is dead, conform to the system, the true German wave is about to come with N’Socialist Soundsystem, I despise you, you are conform and cowardly, I never liked you, fuck you, system-pigs.”
A project called “Autonomia” underlines the violent nature of neo-Nazi politics and turns it into a marketing line for the movement: “We are autonomist, and militant, I pick up a brick stone, and smash it into your face.”
Rapper “Villain 051” from Berlin even calls for a “rap holocaust”, which he wishes to perform upon “immigrants and enemies of the people.”
As usual for nazist politics, such words are often followed by action. Last week (October 23rd) a court in Hannover sentenced Alexander Klenke to 12 years in prison for first degree murder – he had bestially murdered a 44 year old prostitute in a October night 2012, after the victim had made fun of his neo-Nazi beliefs. Klenke, 25 years old, is a right wing activist and a neo-Nazi rapper, who had previously released his violent music under the name “Sash JM.” The Hannover court also sentenced Klenke to permanent treatment in a closed psychiatry clinic after his prison time.