Zugezogen Maskulin “Alles brennt”
Back in the days, when Busta Rhymes was still ‘the Busta Rhymes’, I used to really dig what he could do with a tripping tongue over the darkest rolling beats. Busta had the tempo set so high, sometimes you wondered if himself knew what was going on – but it was a mad speed in service of the unbeatably charming – and I loved it. Zugezogen Maskulin took their name when they moved to Berlin („Zugezogen“ means „Moved“) and as a shout-out to other German rappers adopted the „Masculine“ in their bandname. Maybe they don’t rap as fast as Busta, and their beats aren’t quite so dark but the way they mix it on the title track „Alles brennt“ (“Everything burns”) shows a determination to hit things pretty hard. And it’s also they’re not shy of an “Eigenblut” (“Blood transfusions”) as a pretty determined route to euphoria. So you have to say, it’s tempting to jump on their band wagon. Testo & Grim104 are proud of their work, but not arrogant, and they like to get right to the point: „Why are you so tense? We’ve just started!“ or, “Do you want hiphop to get back to how it was back in the day? You can’t possibly mean that, right?!“
So Zugezogen Maskulin are not about the old school. Their sound is more minimal, with the beats deconstructed until they’re just a naked framework, with tiny-Asian-tinged melodies creeping in and out. Think „Asiatisch“ by Fatima Al Quadiri. Zugezogen Maskulin nail it when the production is a bit less crowded, when there’s space, air and a certain crispness (a little Kindergarten production – a fantastic German HipHop duo from the 90s) – on those tracks there’s more room for their trademark humour and lyrical barbs.
The record works less well on tracks like “Plattenbau O.S.T.”, where it feels they’ve allowed things to get a little over-smooth, like the kind of Trap Music you hear in self-conscious youth-baiting car adverts. In these moments it feels like Zugezogen Maskulin are becoming the very thing they seem to be fighting elsewhere on the record, right as they want to perform at the next big discotheque on a motorway exit.
In their best moments they keep up the fight – dissing the sell-outs, empty hipsterism, marketing mania and any number of other middle-of-the-road German orthodoxies thinking (nevermind all the seeming wars going on the world.)
“With their best tracks the two heavy gasping boys are head to head with crazy acts from overseas like Run The Jewels. I’ll check with my lawyer – and afterwards I’m in.” (Martin Riemann)
“This record sounds as if the mega-nerd from “The Simspons” (Martin Prince) is wearing the torn jeans jacket from the bully Nelson Muntz. They want to be smart asses and also street. I don’t buy it – and more important: I don’t like it.” (Linus Volkmann)
“The righteous and honest German HipHop is back. For good? For good!” (Jens Friebe)