Germany's new rappers are the clean-cut boys next door. But are they really rappers? Who cares! They're selling plenty of tickets and merchandise, and even sharing the stage with their gangsta buddies.
Cro never leaves home without his bulky panda mask. Muso sports a sexy James Dean coif and careless cigarette. And Casper's latest single features a baptism in the American backwoods and a catchy indie riff.
No, we're not at a frat party. These guys with the short, harmless names are now dominating Germany's mainstream hip hop scene, once the sole domain of four-letter-word, in-your-momma's-face street ganstas.
Cro, Muso, Casper and co. have certainly not chased the bad boys out of town. They're much too nice to do that anyway. Instead, they're sharing the spotlight - and in many cases even the fans - with their gangsta buddies in Germany, and that in a genre that has long been practically synonymous with the "diss."
Dissing (offending someone, in case you're not up on the jargon) is nonetheless far from dead in some camps. Influential German gansta rapper Bushido and his protégé Shindy recently boosted sales and press attention by wishing death on a number of top-ranking politicians, as DW reported. But the new generation of nice-guy rappers not only neglect the diss - they're also mixing in generous portions of electronic, pop, indie and other sounds.
Is that still hip hop?
'Rap is like a chameleon'
"I understand that people say Casper isn't hip hop, but that's wrong," Hamburg-based rap insider and publicist Falk Schacht told DW. "Hip hop can be everything. It's like a chameleon. That's the reason why it can adapt to every culture in the whole world. Even if Casper is rapping on music that indie rockers play, it's still rap music to me."
As for 26-year-old Muso, whose real name is Daniel Giovanni Musumeci, he told DW that there's no box big enough for his sound: "I would say it's rap, but also spoken word. And musically it has a lot of influences, even global beats. It has a lot of electronic influences and is also organic."
Cro - a 23-year-old from Stuttgart born with the name Carlo Waibel - is the self-declared inventor of Raop, his own special mix of rap and pop and also the title of the 2012 album that launched him (well, at least his panda mask) securely onto the public's radar. READ MORE