Das Hiphop 

Overcoming Racism with Freundeskreis

WE ALL HARBOR little racist notions. For example, I never saw a dentist until I was 27 because I was convinced that white people had weak teeth and Africans had super strong teeth. The costly consequence of this racism has been seven fillings and three horrifying root canals, one of which was on a complex molar. Another example of my little racisms was the long-held belief that Germans were war-like because of their language, which, when spoken loudly, was terrifying. You could never sound like that in French or Spanish, which are the languages of love, seduction, and sex.

This racism towards Germans was never challenged or deemed unbecoming by my American and African friends. For the most part, it was inspired by World War II movies, which always had this scenario: The jackbooted Nazi finally loses all patience with his arrogant American or French prisoner, and demands, at the top of his thundering voice, that the prisoner submit and disclose the secret code or location of the underground resistance. In a word, society said it was cool to hold a little racism towards the Germans, and I certainly would have maintained it until the day they laid pennies on my eyes had I not listened to a German hiphop band called Freundeskreis.

The band is virtually unknown in America, and if you buy their latest CD, Esperanto, it's on import--meaning, you have to fork out a hefty $35 for it. But as a dedicated hiphop fan who has been "in the game" since 1979, and boasts a somewhat encyclopedic knowledge of its history and development, I can say, without a hint of reservation, that Freundeskreis is currently the best hiphop band in the world.

The ease with which they pronounce and round their words; the warmth of their "ssch," "haasss," and "ffwech" sounds; the infinite laziness of their widely spaced (and often spaced-out) beats, is nothing less than enchanting. This is why they are the best hiphop band in the world! Like The Roots (who are the second best hiphop band in the world), they have a profound sense of what I call "the care of hiphop"--they care about the texture, structure, mixture, and mood of their music. At every opportunity, Freundeskreis attempts, with great care, to reveal the essential melancholy beauty of hiphop.

I have listened to this CD over and over have yet to find one bad or obnoxious track. Even when they sound hard, as in the song "Sternstunde," it's not the terrifying yelling of a Gestapo agent (or a rapping Gestapo agent), but instead the voice of a concerned doctor, who is trying to keep you awake and pull you away from the deadly gravity of a drug overdose. In fact, because of this band, I now hold the belief that German is more beautiful, more elegant, and more lyrical than our clumsy English. (Yes, even I can't believe I'm saying such things.)

If you have a severe problem with Germans and their language, and want give up the burden of this prejudice, then I recommend you break open your piggy bank and buy an imported copy of Esperanto. After one listen, you will never say or think another bad thing about Germans again. Das ist die reine Wahrheit!

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