IIn 2019, Felix Kummer, frontman of the band Kraftklub, made an announcement to Germany’s gangster rappers: “I’ll make rap soft again / I’ll make rap sad again,” he rapped in his song “Not the music”. Three years later, he seems to have achieved his goal: three of the best-known gangster rappers – Bushido, Sido and Samra – no longer only create topics of conversation with brutal texts or criminal entanglements, but also with their feelings.
All three have recently spoken out about being or having been treated for mental health issues. Bushido suffers from depression and panic attacks and goes or went to therapy several times a week. Sido went into cocaine withdrawal this summer. And Samra said he was taken to a clinic because of a psychosis, even fixed there, after which he was treated in a private clinic in Bali. He, too, has been suffering from depression for a long time, he said in an interview.
What does this development mean? Have psychological problems been removed from taboos to such an extent that they can even be revealed in a scene that otherwise propagates an archaic image of men? Are they even an identity feature that makes musicians interesting? Or what other motives do the rappers have for speaking so openly about their feelings?
“Cocaine is the devil!”
You have to look at the cases individually: Bushido started talking about his mental problems when the conflict with his former business partner Arafat Abou-Chaker escalated publicly. The Berlin rapper told the police that he had been traumatized since meeting Abou-Chaker because he locked him in, hit him and threatened him. His psychological problems are also a result of this aggression. This makes them a central argument in the court case that the Berlin public prosecutor’s office has been conducting against Abou-Chaker for more than two years. Bushido cried during his testimony in the process. He was just as vulnerable in two television documentaries he had made about his life. The fact that the forty-four-year-old shows his feelings so openly is in his own interest – he wants to win the lawsuit against Abou-Chaker. Also, he is trying to start a new life in Dubai while trying to make as much money as possible by presenting his private life to the public. Not only his mental health has to be used for this, but also his one-year-old triplets, who are constantly featured in Instagram stories.
Samra also has good reasons to speak publicly about his drug crashes: he was recently in the headlines because of allegations of rape. The allegations, which he vehemently denies, led to his break with his former label, Universal. He is currently trying to start a new life with his own label. And the interview that the twenty-seven-year-old recently gave to a YouTuber who asked very benevolently was probably intended as an important step back onto the big stage. The part in which the Youtuber Leeroy Matata allegedly spoke to Samra about the rape allegations was cut from the conversation – because of an ongoing process, as Matata said. It’s a pattern we’ve seen lately: men who have been accused of something disappear from the public eye for a while, only to come back to their fans with emotional videos talking about the tough times that they had left – without saying a word about the allegations. Still, what Samra says in the interview is remarkable. The rapper, who used to glorify drug use in many songs, urges his fans: “Cocaine is the devil! (. . .) Please don’t take these drugs. These drugs will destroy your life!”