On Talking Germany, MC René talks about his experiences on trains and his comeback as an author and rapping comedian.
In the 1990s, René el Khazraje achieved success as the rapper MC René. After his career hit a low, he worked in a call centre. But soon he quit that job, left his home, gave away his belongings and has travelled by rail through Germany since then.
René el Khazraje was born on September 11, 1976 in Braunschweig. His Moroccan father and German mother separated when he was 4 years old. He felt at home in the hip-hop scene and had success as a rapper: many consider him the best freestyle rapper. Despite a good vocational high school diploma, he didn't start an apprenticeship. Instead, he toured Germany's music venues with the band Fettes Brot and performed with scene stars like Freundeskreis, Absolute Beginners, Afrob, Sammy Deluxe und DJ Tomekk. But after initial triumphs in the hip-hop scene, his music career stagnated. For a while he moderated a hip-hop program on the music TV station VIVA. When the rapper Kool Savas dissed him musically, his star faded in the scene, which viewed him as a "wellness" rapper. So René got a job -- at a call center under the pseudonym Stefan Eckert. But he hated the work there, so he gave away all his possessions, bought a "Bahncard 100" pass for the entire German rail network, and began traveling through Germany. He has written a book about his experiences on the train. Its title, "Alles auf eine Karte – Wir sehen uns im Zug", means "Betting it all on one card -- We'll see each other on the train". Since April 2010, René has been blogging about his development as a strandup comedian.