Aziza A.

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Alev Azize Yıldırım
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May 17, 2003
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 Aziza A.
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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.

Bio

Aziza A. (Alevio Dün) was born in Berlin in 1971, three years after her parents had arrived with their son. Her period at primary school coincided with the boom period of Döner stalls, for which reason she and other Turkish girls were nicknamed kebab by middle-class children in the borough Steglitz. They were also called kanake, a term which she may have heard mentioned by her parents without knowing its actual meaning. "At that time I was still a nice Turkish girl, and butter wouldn´t have melted in my mouth. I was more an observer." (http://home.snafu.de/galler/aziza-a/history.html)

At a comprehensive school in the borough Schöneberg she began to gain in confidence. ?Being quiet and watchful doesn´t always pay, so I grew louder, sharper and bouncier. I hardly listened to advice any more and started to go my own way - a way which had, and still has, many branches!" (ibid). In the upper-school-centre of Kreuzberg, which may be Berlin?s most cosmopolitan borough, Aziza found her own style. "At that time I wore only black clothes. No-one even dreamed that I was Turkish, since no self-respecting Turkish woman would be seen dead in anything like them. Other Turkish girls - so I later heard - boggled at me and were lost for words. They admired me but feared to follow suit. What a pity! The youths, though, thought I was bonkers. They were confused by my self-awareness and my acting as an equal. But even so, we managed to get on." (ibid)

Aziza began singing and spending her time only in Kreuzberg. "Kreuzberg is something special to me, as the folk there accept one another, at least in practice. They are as different as chalk and cheese but are somehow able to live with one another, whether punk or yuppie. This borough minted my identity. But then I had a crisis and hankered to go back to Turkey. My brother and uncle have a firm in Istambul, where they wished me to work. I did so for four months, not a day longer." (ibid)

At first Aziza A. borrowed songs from the Turkish singer Sezen Aksu, then she discovered hiphop and opened it up for women. Thanks to her frankness, she became the first German Turkish moderator of the ZDF (Central German Television) program Dr. Mag in 1996. In 1997 her first CD Es ist Zeit appeared. Since 1998 she has been presenting on the Berlin radio channel Multikulti the program Haydi Hop. Here she reveals her affection for the whole spectrum of Turkish music, since on Haydi Hop it ranges "from old classics of folklore via arabesque to present day popmüzik and oriental hiphop, covering quite different genres, one after another, and having them blend into a colourful, entertaining cocktail of Turkish music and culture," as its producers claim.

Works

Es ist Zeit

Published Audio,
2003
Orient Express/GGM

Kendi Dünyam

Published Audio,
2002
Double Moon

Breaking Walls

Published Audio,
1996
MultiKulti/Gift Music

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Rethinking Europe

Debates, lectures, concerts, readings

(26 March 98 - 24 January 99)
video

Interview with Aziza-A

play video

"Takil Bana"

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"Biz Bizi Biliriz (We Know Ourselves)"

taken from the CD "Kendi Dünyam"
play video