Aziza A. -
Born in Berlin in 1971, Aziza A. is the first German-Turkish rapper and has developed oriental hiphop by blending hiphop with traditional Turkish features. Though not a strident feminist, she raps in Turkish or German about migration and the desires of Turkish women born in Germany. She has moderated a TV show, presents her own radio program and lives in Kreuzberg in Berlin.
Aziza A. was born in Berlin in 1971. In daily life, on television and onstage, she urges her ´sisters´ to have more self-confidence. Her name is her motto, since in Arabic Aziza means ´powerful´, and the A refers to the Turkish Abla for sister. In her songs Powerful Sister raps out against all clichés:
"Now I´m going to take a liberty, man!
Aziza A. does what she takes to be right,
even if banned from her family´s sight
for not being sweet, not Turkish Delight.
I don´t care a damn.
I speak out when and wherever I can."
On starting to sing at the age of 16, she first imitated the songs of the Turkish singer Sezen Aksu: "She is my idol. Asked about western idols, I sooner or later realised that I hadn´t any. Am I crazy" My idol comes from Turkey. If you speak about Turkish stars, Aksu´s name is on the tip of your tongue. She is the first and only woman there with a style of her own, and basically it was she who brought pop-music to Turkey. Others just follow her lead. Everyone respects her," said Aziza in an interview. (Blau, Femzine aus Berlin, No. 17).
But though keen on Turkish pop-music - and indeed she began presenting it years later in a radio show of her own - Aziza A. discovered hiphop in Kreuzberg, a borough in Berlin, in the 80s and developed her own style. Hiphop in Germany is mainly the domain of foreign youngsters who like to call themselves kanaken, which was once a disparaging term for resident Turks. The band-members or their parents have come to Germany from all over the world. Together with Freundeskreis, Fresh Familee, Advanced Chemistry and Cartei, Aziza A. is one of the most important rappers. Indeed, like Cora E. she is outstanding in a domain dominated by men. "In the two cultures which I have grown up in, my sisters mostly come off worse," she rapped out on her first CD Es ist Zeit (It?s Time) in 1997. "I don´t want to be thought of as being exotic in being a woman. Naturally folk are nosy about me or Cora E. at first, since there are hardly any women rappers. But on hearing me, they ought to judge me and male musicians by the same standards. In magazines I want to be compared not only with Cora E. or TicTacToe or Sister S. but also with Ice-T or Public Enemy," she protests (TAZ, 16.04.1997).
"There was nothing like Aziza before - a Turkish woman who says frankly what´s on her mind and what ought to be done," says Soft G. admiringly. He and Erdnic are the two back-boys, Aziza´s side-rappers and percussionists. With their dapper made-to-measure suits, they provide a decent setting, which Aziza, with her black rasta-dreadlocks, black T-shirt and black sexy trousers (not quite meeting over her pink belly-button), can burst from all the more effectively. Presently they are augmented by DJ Hashim or Derezon (Islamic Force) and the dancers Menora Azabe and Meryl Prettyman. Aziza´s music blends Arabic Turkish sounds with fat hiphop beats from DJ Derezon. On stage, unlike most members of other Turkish youth bands, Aziza neither poses nor jibes at colleagues. She uses the medium hiphop for her own purpose, which is mainly to speak out about life between two worlds and to round off the one-dimensional German image of Turkish women.
Her texts, like the title song ´Es ist Zeit´, are often about the situation of Turkish women living in Germany, but Aziza A. does not take a feminist stance so much as her own, as in Kendi Yolun. "I have a lot of experience to pass on, a lot to speak about, which is why I am doing rap. But I´ll never yell from the stage to a woman: "Stick up for your rights!" Rather I´ll say: "Look how you are living. If you like it, fine. But don´t think it´s everything. You could do a lot more.? I don´t go onstage to tell women to do things, but I show them what I am doing, and I speak directly. I say in effect: ´You could, if you wished to, do the same in your own way´." (TAZ, 16.04.1997).
Aziza A. can do quite a bit more than hiphop and rap - and indeed in her own way. In 1996, with Dr. Mag, she was the first German Turkish presenter of a television series. Since 1998 she has been moderating her own radio program on SFB 4 Multikulti in Berlin. Her program covers the whole Turkish spectrum from Turk-pop to hiphop, but onstage she has also been experimenting with music and song beyond this, and her hearers are keen to experience her further liberties.
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
Debates, lectures, concerts, readings
(26 March 98 - 24 January 99)