On my very long checklist of music I listen and pay attention to, German tunes aren't really a priority. But today, thanks to Twitter, I'm beginning to think that maybe I should make them one after discovering German singer Ace Tee’s new video for her song “Bist du down?”—or rather, “Are you down?”—featuring rapper Kwam.e.
Complete with baggy jeans, choreographed dance moves, and a butter-smooth R&B sound, it pretty much screams peak '90s. She also draws a pretty close comparison to our favorite girl group of the same era, TLC.
That juxtaposition was first made by Twitter user @hernameisrachu when she tweeted a portion of the video with the caption, “The new TLC are German, pass it on.” It’s a hard connection to ignore: “Bist du down?” captures a very particular nostalgia that certainly resonates with my generation.
But Ace Tee also does a solid job of bridging the past with the present—of connecting American music history and internet aesthetic with German rap and youth culture.
The way the kids are dressed speaks to a global culture that has largely been spurred by the interconnectivity of the web, but is also sentimental as another throwback to the '90s: Bucket hats, Fila, coordinated outfits, oversized clothes, bamboo door knocker earrings, visors. The video is shot in a vacant area that’s replete with graffiti and street art, something that Berlin is specifically known for (the Berlin Wall, for example, is covered in graffiti).
German is a sometimes slightly jarring language, even in music (do any of us remember Rammstein’s “Du Hast”? Ha!), but Ace Tee makes the language more than palatable. It almost doesn’t sound like German at all; “Bist du down?” is soft, plush.
The whole thing—though perhaps unintentional—is a fairly brilliant move.
Ace Tee’s video is a keen look at what’s going on in German hip-hop—and it’s clear that we’re all curious. The original TLC-comparison tweet is at 14k retweets and growing, and the video has already amassed over 265k views. Unfortunately, if you peruse her SoundCloud, there isn’t too much to explore, but we’re hoping that after how much noise “Bist du down?” has made, she’ll be quick to release more music.
I, for one, am too curious what else she, Kwam.e and other German rappers and musicians have up their collective sleeve.
Until then, I'll keep "Bist du down?" on repeat.
By Tara Mahadevan. Follow her on Twitter.
Photo Credit: YouTube