By Kosmo Sone
The twenty-six year old German-Canadian Rapper ‘Kollegah’, born in Hessen under the civilian name Felix Antoine Blume, represents a German Newschool in Hip-Hop. With aggressive Beats and aggressive Flows, one would assume he is but another addition to the legion of rappers imitating American Gangsta-rap.
But against all expectations, Kollegah gives Germany’s Rap game a new direction: With meaningful lines and sophisticated metaphors, Kollegah breaks away from egomaniacal lyrics and an arrogant self-presentation, instead highlighting contemporary problems with western society and the difficulties of obtaining economic and social success.
Before becoming an accomplished artist, Kollegah needed to travel the standard path of a Rapper coming up – mostly by battling. In this discipline, Kollegah showed impressive skills, crushing opponents in the ‘Reimliga Battle Arena’ (RBA) an Internet based platform in which many Rappers gained a name before making it big.
Gleaning respect with lines like “You are like Sting – you sang at the Police”; “I kick you in the ribs then you count as a math genius with all your complicated fractions”; “I am more connected to big sums than a beehive” or “I pass the door with 3 ‘hoes’ like Santa Claus” (All RBA) Kollegah showed early talent for the style that was to give his Raps the deeper level he came to use for proclaiming his gospel to a growing following.
In “Kuck auf die Goldkette” (Look at my gold chain), from the LP Alpha genes, released on his label Selfmade Records (Kollegah’s first LP appearance in the german charts), Kollegah combines his rap skills with issues he regards important. Attacking insufficient social mobility in Germany, Kollegah takes his own life as example to describes the difficulties of climbing the social ladder, yet with the optimistic outlook of one who achieved – Self-made, just like his record label. The rapper also comments on Creationism, with the ironic hook-line “Kollegah is like Adam – a made man”.
This new spin on Rap however did not go unnoticed in the German Hip-Hop scene. Feuds with other Rappers followed but his skillful wordplay gives Kollegah the upper hand over his competitors. Despite all his success, Kollegah has managed to remain modest: In the song “16 Legenden” featuring the German top-selling Hip-Hop Crew K.I.Z., Kollegah starts the track with “Koloss is the abbreviation for Kollegah the Boss”.
Demonstrating a rich knowledge of other cultures and with lyrics laden with underlying meanings, I think I am safe to say that Kollegah combines the lyrical sophistication of a Schiller with a critical outlook on society like Brecht, thus opening a whole new chapter of German Hip-Hop.