German hip-hop duo Roger Rekless and DJ Al-Rock visited Lahore for a series of concerts marking the World Music Day on Friday, as part of a joint venture between the German Center and the Alliance Francaise de Lahore. The duo that started off back in the ‘90s, is known for producing music which connects well with traditional roots and more importantly, for mashing up lyrical prowess with their outstanding beats. The artists sat down with The Express Tribune for an exclusive tete-a-tete.
A visit to Pakistan has shown the duo how perceptions can be different from reality. “A lot of my friends and family had different perceptions of Pakistan but since my visit, all that has proven to be wrong. It will be interesting to see though, how audiences react to our music because the lyrics are in German,” said Rekless, whose real name is David Mayonga, prior to the concert.
The two artists began their journey in the German music industry when they were only teenagers. Based on the outskirts of Munich, they stepped into the industry when a completely new music scene was emerging. “A new scene was being created at that time — we had a lot break dancers, graffiti writers, and we were the only two DJs in our age group. However, it was quite evident that this was going to grow,” said 32-year-old Rekless.
At a time when American hip-hop was influencing quite a number of artists but the basic facilities of music were inaccessible in Germany, the duo felt inspired by hip-hop as a medium to express themselves. “People from poorer backgrounds could not afford turntables at that time so we started out by break dancing; we wanted to be a part of this growing culture,” Rekless continued. “However, with time passing, more and more people started to understand and grasp the idea behind hip-hop — to give yourself a chance to express yourself no matter where you come from.”
The growth of the German hip-hop scene, that was only limited to performances in an underground network of parties and concerts, eventually broke out and became a mainstream phenomenon. This is something that Rekless said had a huge impact on the field of music. “The artists were mostly trying to please the media and there was this whole trend of gangster rap that was being imported. We were also offered major deals but we said no, we are not going to do that,” he said.
After being away from the music scene for a couple of years, the duo is now part of a resurgence of hip-hop. Sharing his passion for his work, Al-Rock, whose real name is Sebastian Wegner, added that he has always enjoyed performing live and creating different sounds using turntables. “When the hip-hop genre was initiated, the DJ played the main part. Nowadays, it’s like the rapper is mostly in the front and at times there is no DJ, so music is missing the scratching,” said Al-Rock. “I think that there is no limitation when it comes to being a DJ but the most important thing is doing it with rhythm.”
The duo will soon be releasing a promotional free-style album in two weeks for the largest hip-hop festival in Germany called Splash! Festival.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2013.
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