It’s time to mention one of the biggest forces on the budding German hip-hop scene of the early-to-late 90s: MZEE. Almost single-handedly run by Akim Walta (it seemed), it was more than the website with forums and the mailorder it is today. MZEE was basically synonymous with German hip-hop per se. They ran a fanzine for a few issues, they provided contacts for legal graffiti work, they were the first independent hip-hop label, they and their crews were in nearly every documentary talking about hip-hop, educating the viewers about the origins of hip-hop, insisting on its positive, creative nature and its roots in the Zulu nation at a time when every layman documentary on hip-hop started out with the funny way people wore their hats and pants, and the comment that people were trying to import the “ghetto” into Germany… MZEE has also had a hand in producing books about graffiti under the spin-off branch From Here To Fame Publishing.
Today, there is still the music label, although it has become one (small) label among countless others, and the music and merchandise mailorder, as well as the book publishing company.
In 1995, after having launched numerous old-schoolers’ 12″es and EPs, MZEE united a bunch of their artists young and old on one compilation. The same year, most of them went on a tour of Germany together, also hitting up Switzerland (and Austria, I’d assume) as “Die Klasse von 95” (class of 95). Their title track is on the album, as well as a live segment recorded in Zurich’s Rote Fabrik. And I am happy to say that yours truly was at that very show, wearing an MZEE logo T-shirt and generally going bonkers to the weirdo performances of F.A.B and Tobi & Bo and many others… (ah, fond memories…)
Let me just quickly say a word or two about the artists on here, since this album and the tour were the first major stepping stones for most of them, and this album may well be termed a “classic”.
I’ve told you already, he was the “shooting star” of freestyle talents. Young, fresh, smiley-faced. He soon formed a freestyler team with Spax, and the two later worked together on albums and more tours. Eventually, René had a bit of a career slump, re-invented himself as Reen and managed to alienate most of his former fans. It’s been a while since I last heard from him.
Freaks Association Bremen. Immo and Ferris were some of the weirder characters I’d seen up on stage thus far. The “freaks” bit in their name was certainly not just a gimmick… They later parted ways with Ferris (the raspy voice guy) celebrating his fucked-up-ness owing to his drug abuse and being a self-professed antisocial weirdo (there was some tongue in cheek about this, but only a little.) Now, he’s kinda disappeared in the last few years.
Immo, now Immoflow, however, kept his sanity and has made some largely overlooked but quality music with extremely original and funny wordplay. His first, very relaxed solo album was entitled “Terra Pi” (sounds like “therapy”) and it seems to have worked out quite well. Again, it’s become a bit quiet around the man, but I think he’s still out there, somewhere.
From Bremerhaven on the North Sea comes this UK Britcore clone that would probably make every seasoned Hijack fan shudder. MC Crak was doubtlessly harrd and DJ Stylewarz has actually kept a reputation as the technically most advanced DJ in Germany and surroundings, or at least that’s what he says when he talks about his skills. ;) (Some DJ friends of mine have actually confirmed that he’s ill). Two more, Kaoz and TNG must have been involved in producing, but I’ve found very little about them.
Member of STF (Scopemann, Tuareg, Fast Forward) and producer and battle rapper. He later started a label and online mailorder called “Put Da Needle To Da Records” and was elementary in launching the careers of R.A.G., Creutzfeld Jakob, Der Klan and Kool Savas. At some point, he fell out with some of his artists (Creutzfeld Jakob, if I remember correctly) and ended up shutting down his label.
A Real Dope Thing
I have one other compilation with one other song of theirs and that’s about all I know about them. Two of them eventually worked in electronica music collective Jazzanova and some others.
About these, I’ll be posting some more, but for now… They were the antithesis to Die Fantastischen Vier, who, like them, were from Stuttgart. Die Massiven Töne (massive tones) were in a crew called “Die Kolchose” (the kolkhoz), together with Die Krähen and Maximilian und sein Freundeskreis, who would later become huge as Freundeskreis (which will get its coverage on here in due time.)
Die Massiven were Ju, Schowi, Wasi and DJ 5ter Ton. They had just had their first EP “Dichter in Stuttgart” out. And their first album would later have everybody bob their head with its distinctive production by Wasi. More to come…
The next posting or the one after will be dedicated to them, so here are just a few words: these guys are up to their necks in hip-hop. From Heidelberg, like Advanced Chemistry. Members of graffiti crew TPM. Up to this compilation, they had been highly-regarded beatmakers, specializing in breakbeats for b-boys. This track here (Allein zu zweit) is actually the very first they’d ever rapped on and they readily admit “Ich weiss, ich bin nicht der beste Rapper” (I know I’m not the best rapper.) But once you hear the beat together with their lines, you won’t mind. Together with Zeb-Roc-Ski (Akim Walta himself) they put out the ingenious “Breaker’s Revenge”, which has become a b-boy anthem.
Duo from Cologne consisting of Scopemann (of STF) and Nine Double M. Together they only had a few 12″es out, of which this is their first. A wonderful example of early 90s toaster-influenced flows which people soon realized they had no business to try… ;) Produced by Scopemann.
01 – MC René – Verstecktes Dynamit
02 – F.A.B. – Freaks
03 – Klasse von 95 – Hip Hop & Rap (Fettbass Version)
04 – No Remorze – Interlude
05 – No Remorze – Condemned to Death
06 – Fast Forward – Day of Infamy (instrumental)
07 – A Real Dope Thing – Seeds
08 – A Real Dope Thing – I wish I could fly
09 – Massive Töne – Der Trend
10 – Stieber Twins – Allein zu zweit
11 – Rude Poets – 4 vor Zwölf
12 – ZebRocSki & Stieber Twins – Breaker’s Revenge 93
13 – Die Klasse von ’95 LIVE at Rote Fabrik, Zürich, 20.05.95