Thomas Dürr, Michael B. Schmidt, Andreas Rieche, Michael Beck
I’ll admit that when thinking of the phrase “German rap” and looking at pictures of the band (like the one above where the second guy from the right looks like a cross between Janet Reno and Adam West with a messed up Hefner-ish outfit), it’s hard to take Die Fantastischen Vier (The Fantastic Four) very seriously. It’s especially hard when the listener comes from the U.S. where hip hop flows like water. Hell, hip hop originated from the streets of New York City. But anyway, despite all appearances the band does come up with some interesting and catchy tunes. For comparison, take a look at the Beastie Boys. They don’t look like they would be good rappers but they still manage to produce some incredibly fun music that doesn’t end up as a joke in the industry (I’m looking in your direction, Vanilla Ice). And the above description of the Beastie Boys also applies to Die Fantastischen Vier. In fact, to call them the German Beastie Boys would not be too much of a stretch.
Before I talk about their music, I feel I should go into how I ran across this band. I have a German aunt who’s only about eight years older than me and about seven years ago, when I was nearly 16 years old, she requested that her mother send her a CD from one of her favorite bands from back home. She didn’t really remember the name of the band, so her mom just started buying CD’s by all the bands that were popular in Germany at the time and sent them back to my aunt. One of the CD’s was Lauschgift by Die Fantastischen Vier. Since my aunt can’t stand rap, she passed it off to me. I thought the album was hilarious at first. My initial reaction was, “Ha! Germans singing rap!” but over the years I’ve started to take it a bit more seriously. Granted, it’s not anything epic or groundbreaking, but it is a fun listen in its own right.
The songs I’m posting from Lauschgift provide a pretty good scope of what it sounds like. I have a feeling that “Populär” was the first hit single off of the album. It sounds like Top 40 material. It’s upbeat, it’s catchy, and it’s a little zany. I also think it’s best that I don’t know what they’re saying. I have a feeling the lyrics are pretty inane. That’s why I like foreign music in general; I don’t know how bad the lyrics are when I don’t know the language. “Love Sucks” is another catchy, upbeat number that hits a little harder than “Populär” with its intense percussion and aggressive vocal delivery. It also has the obligatory English lyrics that all foreign bands seem to put into their music. “Ich Bin” is just plain weird. It’s got a sample of a little girl’s voice looping through most of song with some off the wall vocal delivery by the band. And then there’s “Krieger.” It’s almost like Die Fantastichen Vier is submitting to the stereotype of German music (i.e. the whole industrial thing). “Krieger” mixes hip hop with a dark, mechanical soundscape, resulting in something pretty unique to an American audience. I almost want to read somewhere that Rammstein helped produce “Krieger.”
Buy Die Fantastischen Vier’s album Lauschgift
Die Fantastischen Vier – Populär Die Fantastischen Vier – Ich Bin Die Fantastischen Vier – Love Sucks Die Fantastischen Vier – Krieger