Our Passenger of the Month in January 2022: Amewu!
Between classic rap, grime and trip hop: Amewu
The world’s on fire.
And it was on fire when, in the middle of the 2000s, a young man appeared in Berlin rap cyphers in dark cellar bars and stifling youth clubs. He took the mic and with a throaty, murky voice, rapped about a rusting soul and connected his mental abysses to criticism from the scene. He talked of experiences of racism and about being a young black man in a white Germany. And all with an extremely precise staccato flow in an enchanting wall of sound comprising classic rap, grime and trip hop. A name began to whisper in the wind: Amewu.
The world was also on fire during the years in which Amewu made a reputation for himself as an exceptionally gifted live MC on countless stages, released two albums and was praised by fans and critics. But the blossoming rust in his soul and his bemoaning the fact that one is bought and sold within the music industry, all led to Amewu finding new priorities. For a long time, there was no follow-up to “Leidkultur” [Culture of Suffering] (2012). And yet he never left the stage: Amewu not only incessantly played concerts but also theatre at the Schaubühne Berlin where he co-wrote a new production of “Rückkehr nach Reims” – and tailored it to suit him. Amewu didn’t put music on the back burner, but spent a while in the shadows, observing the aggressive self-marketing and grind of profit maximisation and depression. And inequality. And injustice. Until he could no longer bear it and took up his mic, pen and paper and wrote a new album.
After all, the world was still on fire.
On his third album, “Haben oder Sein” [“Have or Be”], Amewu grapples with the desire for more and the consequences of that desire on society, the hip hop scene, the heart, the soul and on himself. On the opener “Amewuga” alone, Amewu examines his own practical constraints: he ambiguously asks “Do you love money/Are you a human being” [translated from German] and interweaves his Ghanaian name with the devastation of colonialism and the need to put food on the table. On the title track, “Haben oder Sein”, Amewu analyses the exploitation that runs right across society and rejects the perceived attraction: “You keep the money/Pay with the money/Question: Do you wanna work for me for it?/No!” [translated from German]. He wanders in circles around dead seagulls on an eery “Plastikstrand” [Plastic Beach], looking out over a sterile sea and wishing a ray of light would appear for his brothers and sisters between the poisonous clouds.
Musically, “Haben oder Sein” meanders between contemporary rap sounds, UK bass influence, trap and grime with a boom bap foundation of more and more subtle organic components. Beats from, among others, Ghanaian Stallion, Megaloh and Clockwerk, as well as Amewu’s own work, underline his rhyming cascades which are constructed with great detail and give the album a deeply dark elegance. The modern approach to sound and attitude ensures that “Haben oder Sein” – with all of its depth and urgency – is firmly rooted in the present.
Thus “Haben oder Sein” is the urgently needed rebuttal to materialism and the pressure to grow. It reassures you, shows stubbornness and solidarity and is searching for allies. We will need all of that.
After all, the world is still on fire.
“Haben oder Sein” is released on 28/01/2022. Vinyl, CD and bundles are available exclusively here.
Each month, recordJet presents the Passenger of the Month. Chosen by the recordJet crew, a recordJet artist is awarded that we particularly like. Apply here…