Rap without the Ghetto and Gangstas
Amewu Nove can justifiably be called a spiritual rapper. Not because he meditates, or because he’s recorded a track titled “Lichttherapie” (Light Therapy), but because he feels every line that he raps, moving within it, completely committed to his message. This sets Amewu, the son of a Ghanaian father and a German mother, clearly apart from the rappers whose simplistic, exaggerated posturing and stories of ghettoes and gangstas dominated the Berlin scene during the first decade of the new millennium. As a youth, he harbored resentment, and it resonated with him when the stars of the Aggro Berlin label let off steam – but he was looking for a more honest and multilayered way of venting his anger. Then a track by the American hip-hopper Eligh, of the West Coast underground stars Living Legends, showed him the way to a different kind of rapping. Amewu says, “It showed me that you could use a sophisticated rap technique to do something as complex as analyzing a person’s character.”
Amewu discovered hip-hop by way of a few CDs that belonged to his stepfather – his biological father having left the family when Amewu was three years old. In 1999 a schoolmate bought a pair of Technics MK2 turntables and together the two teenagers began to freestyle over beats. His friend eventually lost interest, but Amewu stuck with it, recording tapes in his bedroom and perfecting his rap style – “like a lone wolf,” he recalls. Fittingly, his 2009 debut album “Entwicklungshilfe” (Development Aid) features the track “Einzelkampf” (Solo Combat), on which he raps: “I have ideals and I’m one of those people who love to fight / But I’m always peaceful / Even when I wrestle you down.”
He honed his technique outside the scene – only to quickly earn himself the nickname “Demigod” in the hip-hop community for the blistering virtuosity of his live performances. His specialty is a rapid, tongue-twisting rap style. “Nobody turns out the double-time flows as fast and clear, or keeps it as close in the curves as the Berliner,” writes Juice magazine, calling him “possibly the most precise rapper in Germany.”
“That always fascinated me – having to listen so hard to catch the second line that you forgot the first one,” says Amewu. Focus, attention to detail, struggling to get the meaning and feel of the words just right… Amewu doesn’t take shortcuts when he’s crafting his raps. “I annoy people because I think about the words so much,” he muses. “I don’t just write down whatever comes to mind.” In the intro to his debut album, on which he raps with Chefket, Wakka and Team Avantgarde, among others, he talks with self-confidence about his work as a musician and lyricist who takes the time to develop his art calmly and persistently: “It’s been a long time coming – but this is the moment.”
Alongside his activity as a performer and musician, Amewu also puts on rap workshops for teenagers. For a time he studied culture and technology at the Center for Research on Antisemitism of the Technische Universität Berlin, with a focus in research on prejudice. The Afro-German, however, doesn’t put his own experience with racial bigotry in the foreground in his work. “This immigrant thing is pushed on you more from the outside,” says Amewu, who sees hip-hop rather as a process of introspective grappling. “You can make problems for yourself with hip-hop that you didn’t have before, or you can work on problems that you have,” he says. “I try to take the second path and make what I create as positive as I can.”
Author: Christoph Twickel
Born 1983 in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
CD, Album. Edit Entertainment
EP. Mein Brenner
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
(10 November 11 - 12 November 11)