Before Turkish hip hop took hold in Turkey, specifically Istanbul and Ankara, it originally grew out of Turkish ethnic enclaves in Germany. Owing its large population to the Turkish migrants that came to Germany in the 1960s as Gastarbeiter (guest-workers), 2/3 of all Turks in Germany are under the age of 35 and half are under 25 . Exclusionary practices on behalf of the government, particularly in terms of citizenship status, create systematic discrimination of Turks in Germany that fuels racism against migrant workers. Although born in Germany, the children of these Gastarbeiters are not recognized as citizens by Germany or their parents' country of origin. Often living in dilapidated neighborhoods and marked as outsiders by their "eastern" traditions and poor command of the German language, Turkish urban youth gravitate towards hip hop as means of expressive identity construction. From the first rap vinyl recorded in the Turkish language—‘Bir Yabancının Hayatı’ (The Life of the Stranger) by King Size Terror—to the creation of an entire subgenre—Oriental hip hop—Turkish youth in Germany have embraced and moved beyond pure imitation of African American hip-hop culture. Localizing hip hop, Turks in Germany have reworked it to “act as a mode of expression for a range of local issues” particularly those related racism and the problem of national identity experienced by younger members of ethnic minority groups .
Turkish hip-hop had risen to prominence in Germany with the success and popularity of the Turkish rap group Cartel in the mid 1990s throughout Turkey. Unfortunately, after the success of their first album, the members of Cartel had a fight almost killing some of their members. The group was forbidden to perform together again and the members of Cartel were jailed. Cartel's album was banned from the music market. It was later re-released in 2004. This caused a decrease into interest in Hip Hop music. In 2001, Hip Hop music started to regain attention with nefret, who now is the most famous Turkish rapper with the name ceza He started the next generation of Turkish rap. Today, ceza is a prominent Turkish rapper ceza rapstar album was a huge success in 2003 in Turkey. Turkish pop singer Tarkan explained that hip hop had made a great impact on him and that his next albums would be slowly moving to Hip Hop.
North America's first Turkish hip hop artist, "E"mre came onto the scene in Spring of 2010. Working with Canadian rapper Belly, "E"mre created a number of hit singles, culminating in the release of his debut mixtape, "Moon & Star." Hoping to translate his North American success into success back in Turkey, resulted in the hit single, "Turkish Girls." "E"mre launched his website: www.emrelive.com in May of 2010.
Turkish Migration to Germany
After being recruited by the German government to fill the labor shortages in specific industries, Turkish migrants relocated to German cities such as Berlin and Frankfurt under the ‘myth of return’ . The first generation of migrants came to Berlin as individual workers and then slowly brought their families over. Gastarbeiters, by nature of the very word (translated as ‘guest worker'), expected to return to their homeland and did not identify with Germany. This mentality combined with government exclusionary practices caused many Turks to feel alienated and displaced; they maintained an outsider position in society. Whereas the German government could recruit temporary guest workers, they could also be controlled and sent away as the interest of capital dictated. Turks in Germany, excluded because of German policies regarding citizenship, rallied around ethnic lines as a political strategy . Even Turks born in Germany to immigrant parents were denied direct citizenship. Foreigners that did not “integrate” and adapt themselves to German norms, values, and laws were deported.
Because of poor integration policies in Germany, Turkish immigrants isolated themselves in ethnic enclaves away from the dominant society and created their own vibrant communities. After Germany passed a law in 1983 to pay foreigners to leave the country, Turks set up their own services to mediate between individuals and the government, creating institutionalized space. Discrimination in Western Europe forced immigrants to constitute their own communities and to define their group boundaries in cultural terms. Children of migrants who were born in Germany and grew up in these ethnic enclaves carry the norms and traditions of their parents' culture and the dominant society . Kreuzberg, a densely populated area near Berlin with a history of hosting guest workers, is dubbed ‘Kleines Istanbul’ or ‘Little Istanbul.’ Reminiscent of the atmosphere in Istanbul, Kreuzberg is full of local Turkish businesses, open Turkish markets, travel agencies offering regular flights to Turkey, and a Turkish language library. Turks in Germany maintain strong connections to their homeland while constructing local Turkish networks through the conduits of globalization; Turkish language mass media is salient in Berlin .
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