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MZEE Records – From Germany 2 South Africa – The Interview


27 May 2003 No Comment

Germans make good cars, but they also make good hip hop. I recently spoke to Christoph Hagemann of Mzee Records, the most influential and oldest hip hop label in Germany. They have released around 100 albums and have some of the dopest vinyl out for deejays and bboys. Check out this exclusive interview.

“While at the beginning of the 90s MZEE mainly supported the build-up and the development of German-speaking Rap, since the turn of the millenium, the objective developed into another direction and now the main goal is to supply the Hip Hop world market with fresh Beats and good Hip Hop instrumental music.”

Hip Hop is still seen as a culture and for this reason MZEE Records dedicated a series to each elements of Hip Hop.

STRICTLY B-BOY BREAKS, the world-wide well-known series for B-Boy & Breakdance music
STRICTLY HIP HOP BEATS, Instrumentals for DJ’s, MC’s & Producers
STRICTLY DJ-TOOLS, a special series for all Scratch DJ’s & Turntalblists

“Graffiti, one of the four important elements of Hip Hop, is appreciated in the artwork, which always has played a very important role for MZEE Records: Writers such as Can2, Mode 2, Gawky or SEEN contributed as much, as the American photographer Martha Cooper, who particularly contributes classical Hip Hop motives for the B-Boy series.”

What’s the weather like in Germany now?

Not that great. We had some nice days this year with the sun smiling, but right now, it’s raining and the temperatures vary from 10 to 20 degrees in Celsius.

Can you tell us who Mzee records is and what your role is for this label?

No problem. MZEE is one of the pioneer Hip Hop Labels here in Germany and responsible for bringing up artists like MASSIVE TÖNE, MC RENE or the STIEBER TWINS, who now enjoy classic status and are multi sellers. Label founder Akim Walta started out in the early nineties organizing the MZEE Frisch jams. 

After that, a lack of structure for releasing German Hip Hop music lead MZEE to the decision to present the social critical group ADVANCED CHEMISTRY and their work on records and CDs. From there on, one thing lead to another and MZEE became known to be one of the key players in the mid-nineties for quality rap. Nowadays the musical focus is set on the B-Boys and DJs.

Whenever I’ve thought of German hip hop I’ve always thought of Mzee records, is my assumption correct that Mzee are the forerunners of German hip hop?

We would not go as far by saying we started Hip Hop in Germany, but on the musical side we were ones, who mainly influenced and changed the scene. Artists I mentioned earlier were responsible for setting trends and moods, which gave inspiration to many other German Rap crews. Especially “Fenster Zum Hof” by the STIEBER TWINS enjoys classic status within the community and contains lyrical wise much sampled truths, which were referred to by a lot of new German Hip Hop artists. 

Also “Fremd im eigenen Land” by ADVANCED CHEMISTRY was the forefather of all German political rhymes spit. The middlefinger against racism and discrimination in rap music was the first record of its kind here and still is up to date with its message.

Can you briefly describe the German hip hop scene to us, when did hip hop first come to Germany and who would you consider German hip hop pioneers and why?

The Wild Style movie by Charlie Ahearn was the probably the kick off for Hip Hop in Germany. From there on, the culture was spread. 

As pioneers I would name people like CAN 2, LOOMIT, CHINTZ, who are established & internationally known graffiti artists, who also have roots in the other elements of Hip Hop, like B-Boying. 

On the breakdance side, cats like STORM and SWIFT were forerunners, who originated styles. 

LSD PROTON were the first ones to drop a German Rap album, also MCs TORCH and TONI L (both part of ADVANCED CHEMISTRY) were some of the very first to grab the mic and kick rhymes.

How many albums has Mzee released so far and how many albums do you put out every year?

We are standing right in front of our 100th release. It’s kinda hard to tell, how many albums we did, because within the 100 releases are also a lot of EPs, 12″es and Compilations included. It’s kinda hard to say, how many albums we drop each year, because it increased each year. I would say approximately 10 releases (incl. EPs and 12″es) plus mixtapes. 

Which artists do you have signed to Mzee?

People you can expect new stuff coming out from are: 

We also have a new DJ Tools record coming out from DJ PHILOSOPHEE. As always we are trying to keep our eyes open for new talents, which explains why there are a lot of people, which are not so famous yet. The history prooved to us that we had the right feel for talents, so there is much to expect from our label artists. 

To all the South African Hip Hop & B-Boy tunes producers: Send us your stuff!

What other merchandise does Mzee have available?

We have had T-shirts for years and also carry sweatshirts and slipmats. We always had special offers with beanies, caps and so forth. This kind of changes, since we try to innovate and not always do the same things. Better watch out for these collectors’ items! 

You guys have been going for 10 years now, is it still possible to get hold of the very first releases?

Of course the first records are out of print, so they became kind of rare. If you search the net, you will maybe find some lps and we still have some single records – unfortunately not for sale!

I read that you are now mostly concentrating on instrumental/dj/bboy records, is there any particular reason for this?

Labelfounder Akim Walta is a b-boy & DJ himself, so there is a natural connection given. MZEE tries to cover all aspects of the Hip Hop culture. 

With the ALL CITY Ep and the upcoming Zeb.Roc.Ski Concept Album (also entitled ALL CITY), we made a connection to the graff scene. After observing the scene and noticing that there is still a lack of real good breakdance music, we tried to get into this field too. This music style gives us the opportunity to connect dots. 

The Breakdance community has become worldwide and with our music we see ourself as an instance, who ties these heads together. 

Especially for all the DJs are the Hip Hop Beats and DJ Tools Series. With each release, the guys on the wheels of steel get the right stuff for freestyle sessions, mixes & turntable action of all kinds. Where the DJ Tools series is more for the technique freaks with tons of training beats, fx & wordcuts, the Strictly Hip Hop Beats is more musical and can be used for own remixes, mixes, blends and so on.

What are your personal thoughts on the German hip hop scene?

I’m really glad that Hip Hop has become such a large movement in Germany and there are also some musical styles that has become original. Unfortunately there are some people who are successful on an underground level with low quality stuff and there is a lot of style biting going on. Still: It’s cool that there are people out there that are productive and Hip Hop is able to give them a way to express themselves. 

In ways of breakdancing we are lucky to have the Battle Of The Year in our country, graffwise was always a lot of innovators active in Germany. Just think of guys like Can 2 or Loomit, who inspired a whole generation. In general it is important that people forget national boundaries and see Hip Hop as a worldwide movement. We are all brothers in interests & thoughts.

Thanks for talking to us, any last words?

I wanna give a shout out and say peace to everybody who supports the culture in South Africa and everywhere around the globe. No matter whether it’s graffiti, the music, b-boying or all kinds of cultural supports such as magazines, websites etc – keep the Hip Hop fire burning! 

For all producers, who got instrumental hip hop tunes or bumpin b-boy tracks, send your stuff to

From Here To Fame GmbH
z.H. Christoph Hagemann
Vitalisstrasse 379a
50933 Cologne

Maybe you’ll be the next artist in our rooster!
Keep ya eyes open for all MZEE records coming to your country!

Respect! and peep their site:  www.mzee.com

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