Hip-hop expresses itself through graffiti, tags, dance and music. It first began to bloom in the United States in the 1980s and spread its roots to Luxembourg's urban culture from the early 1990s. It’s impossible to showcase all aspects of this musical genre in one article - rapping, DJ-ing, breakdancing, graffiti, beatboxing, etc. Instead, we decided to take a look back at its history and compile a playlist of local hip (hop) artists currently dominating the domestic music scene!
Hip-hop music and culture kicked-off at the end of the 1980s, albeit tentatively, in the Grand Duchy. However, the movement began to grow radically at the start of the 1990s with the appearance of rap nights and the birth of local groups; around the same time Radio ARA began to broadcast a new hip-hop show. At the end of the 1990s, "battles" (musical duels) were "fought" in bars in the city centre. These events took place in all the spoken and rapping languages of Luxembourg. The lyrics were different but the level of passion was the same!
In 2003, the first hip-hop track in Luxembourgish was played on the radio. It was called "Firwat" and performed by the group "The Gentles", which was part of the Sécurité Routière (Road Safety) advertising campaign. In 2010, Alain Tshinza, one of the first godfathers of the rap scene "made in Luxembourg" released the documentary Hamilius: Hip Hop Culture in Luxembourg. The film cast a light on three generations of hip-hop in Luxembourg (1980s, 1990s and 2000s), as well as their major disciplines, dance, graffiti, DJ-ing and rap. At the same time, the movie paid homage to the former Hamilius centre, the epicentre of the movement at the time with breakdance sessions and graffiti on display in the underground passageway.
The year of culture in 2007 had a major influence and helped to develop the hip-hop scene. Today rap, with its undertones of social protest and critique of everyday life, is a popular form of music in the Grand Duchy. Lots of new artists have emerged, developing their unique styles, with varying degrees of success. Language diversity is still evident, but the majority of local rappers perform in Luxembourgish, including the most famous ones. Follow the rhythm and listen for yourself!
De Läb is a hip-hop group from the south of the country. They perform in Luxembourgish and take their inspiration from Conscious Rap and the Boom Bap sound, which they mix with vinyl records from the 1960s and 1970s (jazz, funk, soul, etc.); they deliver their social critique with irony and sarcasm. De Läb was founded in 2006 by three youngsters, Corbi (rap and beats), David Fluit (rap, beats and scratches) and Spenko (beats and scratches), who has since quit the band. More recently, the group has added a DJ and other musicians to their ranks (bass, percussion, saxophone, piano).
Corbi also performs as a solo artist. "De Gëllene Stull", his first solo album, was released in 2015.
Tun Tonnar, aka Turnup Tun, is a Luxembourgish producer, singer-songwriter, musician and rapper. He has worked with various artists, such as Tommek, Bandana, Skinny J and Don Piano, to name a few. He is a member of the group Räpzodi and the collective Stayfou. In his singles, albums and EPs, he expresses himself in Luxembourgish and delivers socially charged hip-hop.
The first album by Nicool "Den Ufank vum N" was released in 2019. The hip-hop artist has loved this musical genre since she was a youngster. Following a concert in 2016 by R.A. the Rugged Man, she began to write songs. She pens her lyrics in Luxembourgish, her mother tongue. Her style is brimming with humour and she pays particular attention to the rhyme.
Thomas Faber, better known as the artist MAZ, won the Screaming Fields Festival contest organised by Rocklab in 2017. In 2018, he released his first album and in 2019 he was the opening act for Nicki Minaj at the Rockhal. He started rapping at the tender age of 15 but kept his passion a secret before performing for his friends a few years later. Today, he is an eminent representative of the Luxembourg rap and hip-hop scene and plays at major festivals and concert halls across Europe.
Tough but charming! Bruce Biren, aka Bazooka Brooze, comes from Esch-sur-Alzette. He currently resides in Berlin where he studies sound engineering. At the age of 16, he met Dschingiz Khan, a young Luxembourgish rapper, who not only inspired him to make music but also became his mentor. In 2020, he released his first album "Iwert dem Gesetz", showcasing songs about money and drugs. His lyrics are similar in style to Gangsta Rap, however they do not glamorise drug use, instead they cast a light on the real situation while also underlining the negative aspects.
His music blends rap and pop. His writes his lyrics in Luxembourgish; they are honest and often describe the relationship between friends and partners. At present, he has released four songs on his YouTube channel, as well as his album "Du weess" which contains seven tracks. For the song "Alles versicht", he collaborated with Turnup Tun. A full-time teacher by profession, the rapper is looking forward to performing live and to collaborating in the near future with other artists from the rap scene.
Maka MC is a rapper of Portuguese origin who has sung in Luxembourgish since the age of 12. His pseudonym is an acronym "Maachen alles krass anescht" (I do everything openly, in a different way). In 2012, he began to collaborate with David Fluit (De Läb) and a year later released his first EP "Maachen kengem Onrecht" (I cause no pain) on Fluit's "De Läbbel" record label. The first album followed in 2016, and the second came out in 2018. He sings about the trials and tribulations of life, comparing it to an eternal building site and, at the same time, pays homage to all the people who work on building sites - an ironic nod to his roots. In February 2019, he released the single "Wat ass lass?" with Jacky Under on YouTube. Tune in!
T the Boss
In 2019, T the Boss brought out his fifth and latest album "De Papp" (the father). He blends social critique with a sense of fun. His career began 20 years ago, in 2001. Since then the way to make music has changed and the experience has evolved: from his first CD, which he burnt himself and printed the cover on his home computer, he now has more than 100 local concerts under his belt and has released numerous albums, EPs, singles and mixtapes. The latest producer he has worked with is a techno DJ who also dabbles in hip-hop; the different style is evident in the rhythms, which are more electronic. In his other life, Rafael Possing is a chef and the owner of a restaurant in the Pfaffenthal.
"SQUAD" ("squatter avec le gang") is the "scandalous song" of the Gangsta rapper Bandana from Esch-sur-Alzette. In autumn 2015, the filming of the video caused a sensation when the police arrived on the scene because the actors were hooded and armed. False alarm! The weapons were just film props! Nevertheless, the event led to Bandana receiving countless views on YouTube and, at the same time, a certain amount of notoriety. Since, he has released other tracks – check it out!
Tommek, Tom Mersch or Peter Punchline is a Luxembourgish rapper from Clervaux. He began rapping at the age of 11, initially in German, then from 16 years of age in his mother tongue. In 2013 he released his first single and in 2015 his first album "Tëschent Humor a Wourécht" (Between Humour and Truth). In May 2020 his latest album came out with 16 tracks, dealing with issues such as family, solidarity, happiness amongst friends and what matters most at the end of life. Tommek is renowned for his extensive use of word play and humour in his lyrics, and while using this humour to tackle more serious issues in society.
Have you heard of...
The Qwest Freestyle Challenge organised by Rocklab and the Rockhal? The competition aims to foster creativity and open the door to youngsters passionate about hip-hop and communities, as well as support budding artists in Luxembourg.
The artists Culture the Kid, DaMensa et Mellow were the winners of the first challenge. In collaboration with the producers Magestick, they recorded their freestyle as a complete track at the Rockhal studio. The video clip of "The Qwest - New World" is available on YouTube.
We can't wait to see and hear more!