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Music

Rock am Ring: 3 German non-rock acts you should know

Sure, you know Kraftklub and Die Toten Hosen. But here are a few German hip hop acts they're about to share the stage with. If they're not on your playlist yet, they should be, says DW's Kate Müser.

Rock am Ring

is no longer taking place on a ring - the Nürburgring Racetrack - but it's still hoping to maintain its status as Germany's most spectacular summer music festival. This year, the party is going down in the tiny town of Mendig in central-western Germany from June 5-7.

Big international names are on the lineup as usual, like the Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson, Slipnot, and The Prodigy. And those who follow the German music scene will recognize national stars like Deichkind, Kraftklub and Die Toten Hosen.

Kate Müser, host of DW's German music program PopXport, picks three lesser-known German acts who deserve more attention abroad.

Antilopen Gang

Mobbing, machismo and the suicide of one of their band members - these three rappers from Dusseldorf and Aachen don't shy way from tough social issues in their latest album, "Aversion." Their German-language lyrics require at least a high school diploma (how many other rappers mention Nobel Prize-winning authors like Günter Grass?), so you'd better read up before turning on their music.

With their track "Beate Zschaepe hört U2" - a reference to alleged neo-Nazi Beate Zschaepe, charged in the prominent NSU murder case - the threesome describe in vivid, painful and controversial detail how racism can take root in the simplest of ways. We all drink beer in pubs that call themselves "traditionally German," while the right-wing extremists like Beate Zschaepe listen to the same music we do: U2. Are we really that far apart?

Antilopen Gang pose the tough questions. Even though their lyrics are sometimes hard to swallow, they are part of a group of German musicians who came out with particular vehemence against xenophobia in Germany following the PEGIDA movement earlier this year.

OK KID

Hip hop meets psychedelic electro with the three-year-old band OK KID. Jonas, Moritz and Raffi weld poetic philosophy with hipster nonchalance in their description of themselves: "OK KID makes everyday lyrics that come easy like a Sunday morning and militate in favor of a whole generation that is looking for answers."

Their sound is both ethereal and grounded, contemplative and easy to digest. Their highly personal music videos, which serve as chapters in an overarching story of humanity for their latest EP "Grundlos glücklich" (Happy without reason), aren't in the spotlight at Rock am Ring, but they're worth checking out ahead of time.

OK KID at the Dockville Festival, Copyright: picture alliance/Jazz Archiv/M.Reimers.

OK KID are relatively new on the German scene

The messages are ones we can all relate to - like "Underwater love - and all you see is the air floating up" and "Tear up what tears you up." Warning! They might just bring a tear to your eye.

Prinz Pi

Can you take a guy seriously who goes by the name Prinz Porno? Only if he's a rapper. Prinz Porno was the graffiti tag and one of many pseudonyms of rapper Prinz Pi, whose real name is actually Friedrich Kautz. And for the first time since 2005, the rapper has brought out his latest album, "pp=mc2," under his heady old epithet.

While the album started at number one on the German album charts and spent four weeks in the top 100, that's about all it has to do with math. Instead, the 36-year-old rapper with the nerd glasses and goatee disses his hip hop colleagues in good ol' battle fashion, losing some of the rock flair that had tainted earlier tracks.

Instead of slamming fellow rapper Kollegah, however, Prinz Pi / Porno teamed up with him to create an epic 15-minute video in the style of an Indiana Jones comic, complete with text bubbles and plenty of stereotypical womanizing and bling bling.

"Prinz Porno One, I don't need a refrain because I remain in the room like perfume" is the, um, non-refrain to "Perfume." A small ego would be deadly for a true battle rapper. If street hip hip is your thing, here's one of Germany's major players.

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