All the grammar. All the rules. All the vocab.
Learning a new language (and in particular German!) can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.
There’s got to be an easier way, right?
A more engaging, satisfying, fun and less tedious way.
Na klar (of course), there is—listening to native music!
There are so many genres of music in German that it’s tough to say where to start.
But here’s a suggestion: Start with rap.
Why Listen to Rap Songs to Learn German?
“But I don’t like rap!” you might protest. Admittedly, I had the same reaction when I was learning German, but I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed it because it was so helpful. Or maybe you have the opposite reaction: You love rap, and therefore think it would be frustrating listening to it in a language you don’t entirely understand yet. It can still be helpful.
As a language learner, listening to rap is beneficial since the syllables tend to not be as drawn out as in other musical genres. Depending on the rapper, the pronunciation can be more or less clear and the lyrics can go by more or less quickly, but regardless, taking in rap lyrics can be a perfect exercise in listening comprehension.
By having the words set to a rhythm, it becomes easier to distinguish linguistic elements like phrasing and word emphasis, intonation and meaning.
Many rap songs also tell a story, making vocabulary easier to put into a larger context. Lyrics for German rap songs can readily be found online at websites like Genius.com and Songtexte.com, so you can follow along without any problems.
Finally, within German rap, there’s a wide range of material available. It’s a matter of finding what appeals to you, even if rap normally isn’t your thing.
How to Find German Rap Songs
“OK,” you’re thinking, “I’ll give German rap a shot, but where do I start?” Thanks to today’s technology, finding German rap is easy, even if you’re not in Europe. And you don’t even have to download songs if you don’t want to.
For starters, YouTube is a great resource and there are lots of playlists dedicated solely to German rap. Search for “Deutschrap” (German rap) or “Deutscher Hip-hop” (German hip-hop) and you’ll find pages of playlists. The great thing about finding German rap on YouTube is that the music videos are generally uploaded, so you’ll be able to actually see what the artists look like and get a visual impression.
Similarly, online services like Last.fm and Spotify also make it easy to find German rap when you’re not in a German-speaking country. Streaming is easy and can be done directly in your browser or in an external app.
If you’re not familiar with any artists yet, another good option is actually looking up the latest releases for German rap. Combining this information with streaming services, you’ll be able to track down something in no time.
One other way to find German rap is streaming radio from local German stations. On Rautemusik.fm, click on the large button that says “Radio einschalten” (Turn on radio) to listen in your browser. On liveradio.de, click on the play button to stream directly.
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8 Awesome German Rap Songs That Are Educational, Too
If you’re still unsure where to start, here are eight German rap songs chosen for their clarity in pronunciation, easy-to-follow themes and cultural lessons. Moreover, they all contain grammar lessons if you look a little closer.
1. Cro — “Whatever”
Cro isn’t your typical rapper, as he considers his music to be a cross of rap and pop, or “Raop,” as he calls it. Also, he wears a panda mask to hide his face. But for anyone who isn’t really into rap to begin with, Cro is a perfect opener to getting into the genre, especially in German.
His song “Whatever” is a catchy tune that details a pretty terrible week. The chorus is about how he doesn’t care what tomorrow will bring, and by having a “whatever” attitude about everything, he feels free.
The grammar lesson is relatively straightforward—everything takes place in the simple present tense. Lines like Ich wache auf, schaue raus, keinen Plan wo ich bin / Das ganze Haus voller Frauen, ey, die schlafen bestimmt (I wake up, look out, no plan where I am / The house full of women, hey, they’re probably sleeping) are easy to follow along with and the song itself will make you want to get up and dance.
2. Die Fantastischen Vier — “Die Da?!” (The One There)
Die Fantastischen Vier are considered an old-school group when it comes to German rap, and their song “Die Da?!” (The One There) was a hit back in 1992. They’re slightly reminiscent of early Beastie Boys but make the genre their own, rather than just copying what was coming out of the U.S. at the time.
The song goes between two of the group’s members and is about how they both met women on the weekend that made their heads turn. The title and chorus themselves are a grammatical lesson, with “Die Da?!” meaning “the woman there.” German often uses articles to indicate something without actually saying the noun and “Die Da?!” exemplifies this in a very understandable way.
Moreover, there’s lots of dependent clauses here to analyze and improve your knowledge with lines like Du kannst dir sicher sein, dass ich mich für dich freu’ / Ich selber bin auch froh und falls es dich interessiert / Mir ist am Wochenende, was ganz ähnliches passiert (You can be sure that I’m happy for you / I myself am also happy and in case you’re interested / On the weekend, something really similar happened to me).
3. Fettes Brot — “Jein” (Yes/No)
The word jein is not really directly translatable since it actually combines the words for “yes” (ja) and “no” (nein) in German. The meaning is neither yes nor no, yet is also both at the same time. The German language can be fun like that, and Fettes Brot’s song “Jein” demonstrates how.
The song details various situations where “jein” would be an appropriate answer to the question in the chorus:
Soll ich’s wirklich machen oder lass’ ich’s lieber sein? Jein…
(Should I really do it or rather should I leave it alone? Jein…)
The situations include one guy not being able to go on vacation with his girlfriend, who considers if he should cheat on her after meeting up with another woman who he’s always admired.
After listening to this Fettes Brot song, you’ll be able to answer yes/no questions like a German would: “Jein!”
4. Einshoch6 — “Sommer in der Stadt” (Summer in the City)
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced learner, Einshoch6 is excellent to listen to when learning German. A real band from Munich, Einshoch6 created a video series in cooperation with Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international public broadcaster). In the series, they have various songs with actual language lessons attached, as well as video diaries where the band is on the road.
Their song “Sommer in der Stadt” (Summer in the City) tells what a typical summer is like:
Es ist heiß, ich schleck’ an meinem Eis / Wir sitzen am Fluss und grillen unser Fleisch…
(It’s hot / I’m licking my ice cream / We’ll sit on the river and grill our meat…)
Throughout the song, there are many prepositions that are followed by the dative case, so you’ll get a thorough understanding of how to use this form. In addition to the song, Deutsche Welle added some vocabulary and exercises to ensure you maximize your learning.
5. Marteria — “Kids (2 Finger an den Kopf)” (Kids (2 Fingers on the Head))
In “Kids (2 Finger an den Kopf),” Marteria laments the gentrification of a neighborhood, but at the same time, there’s an element of irony in it. The chorus is incredibly catchy:
Alle haben ‘nen Job, ich hab Langeweile! / Keiner hat mehr Bock auf Kiffen, Saufen, Feiern / So ist das hier im Block, Tag ein Tag aus / Halt mir zwei Finger an den Kopf und mach’ / Peng! Peng! Peng! Peng!
(Everyone has a job, I’m bored / Nobody wants to get stoned, drunk, or party / That’s how it is on the block, day in, day out / I have two fingers on the head and go / Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!)
On the grammatical side of things, learners will pick up negative forms quickly, with keiner (no one) and niemand (nobody) appearing frequently.
On the cultural side of things, there are many references thrown in about German life and how Marteria perceives the changes in his neighborhood. These annotations to the lyrics have some interesting insight and could be considered a lesson in themselves on the irony of the song.
6. Max Herre ft. Cro — “Fühlt sich wie fliegen an” (Feels Like Flying)
Another good song for people who maybe aren’t necessarily into rap, “Fühlt sich wie fliegen an” is more on the groovy side, as opposed to just being pure rhythm. The song is more or less about falling in love, which maybe isn’t the first topic that typically comes to mind when thinking about the rap genre.
Lyrics like Ich lass’ mich fallen / Ich fall’ in dich hinein / Es fühlt sich wie fliegen an / So leicht muss Liebe sein (I let myself fall / I fall into you / It feels like flying / That’s how easy love must be) make it easy to learn reflexive pronouns and the difference between accusative and dative forms.
7. Fiva — “Das Beste ist noch nicht vorbei” (The Best Isn’t Over Yet)
Up to now, all of the artists mentioned here are men, but there are also many talented female German rappers, including Fiva. This is a song to get you inspired for the day, with the chorus reminding you that you’re not alone:
Das Beste ist noch nicht vorbei / Gib mir die Hand und wir spring’ zusamm’ / Bei eins, zwei, drei
(The best isn’t over yet / Give me your hand and we’ll jump together / On one, two, three)
Fiva’s rapping is clearly enunciated and perfect for any German level, and the lyrics are good for learning verb conjugations, especially in the first and second person.
8. Deichkind — “Leider geil” (Unfortunately Cool)
The song “Leider geil” (Unfortunately Cool) became a cultural phenomenon involving people describing many things as leider geil. Something might be awesome at a particular moment but has negative consequences later, and that’s what makes it unfortunately cool.
Deichkind’s lyrics are easy to understand:
Autos machen Dreck / Umwelt geht kaputt / Doch ‘ne fette neue Karre ist / Leider geil
(Cars are dirty / The environment is destroyed / But having an awesome new car is / Unfortunately cool)
The entire song is in the present tense and, for anyone learning German, not difficult to follow at all.
Whether you’re a beginner who hasn’t encountered German rap before or an advanced learner who can recite the lyrics to all the newest singles, listening to German rap is an easy, fun way to learn more without too much additional effort.
These eight songs don’t even scratch the surface of what’s available, but should be a good start to discovering more.
And One More Thing...
Want to know the key to learning German effectively?
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Patricia Lee has been studying and working in Germany for ten years and has lived in Berlin, Cologne and Düsseldorf. She has also worked and lived in Shanghai, learning Chinese in the process.
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