‘Rap becomes new pop in Türkiye’

‘Rap becomes new pop in Türkiye’

‘Rap becomes new pop in Türkiye’

With rappers making their voices reach the farthest corners of the country, the rap culture has gained momentum over time, as a rapper during a news coverage has said “rap has become Türkiye’s new pop music.”

The dominance of rap music was seen in the statistics of Spotify, a digital music streaming platform, last year, while Ezhel was the most listened artist. He was followed by UZİ, while Cakal was in fifth place.

Artist Sefo’s “Bilmem mi?” was the most listened song on the platform, while Lil Zey, representing hip-hop, took fourth place among female artists.

Yalçın Birol, the founder of Kontent Maker, a music agency, and the music director of Virgin Radio, said that three years after deciding to play rap in 2019, the station moved from 42nd to sixth place, adding, “Even 12-year-old children are now listening to the radio.”

“The emergence and acceptance of rappers’ existence have been the most important change. Moreover, they are continuous and quick to produce as digital platforms need new songs every week,” he said.

Reminding about the duets they performed with artists from different genres, Birol said, “They have also started to write songs for many singers.”

“The motivation of 80 percent of rappers in Türkiye is to make quick money to get out of [Istanbul’s districts with below-average economic conditions such as] Güngören or Esenyurt and provide better living conditions for their families,” said Ünal Yüksel, the founder of M.O.B. Entertainment, a music production company.

“With Generation Z dominating the market, rap has become the new pop music for many people all over the world and in Türkiye,” said Kum, a Turkish rapper, adding that the triumph of hip-hop as a mainstream genre has been a historical process.

Stating that he started rapping at the age of 16, Keişan, another rapper in Türkiye, said, “I had a lot of trouble at the time, but we, as rappers, have definitely become permanent now.”

Idyl, another Turkish rapper, stated that rap grew with the bone mass that supported it in difficult times and started to shape the music industry, while Kool Jane said that the diversity in rap music has increased in recent years.

Amid the rise of rap music in Türkiye, the emergence of beatmakers, such as Bugy, DJ Artz and Segah, and with them reaching the level of producers, also diversified the genre.

Artists such as Ezhel, Khontkar and Ben Fero make music in the trap genre, which can be identified as the melodic form of rap music with an electronic tone, while UZİ, Batuflex and Cakal are the most popular names in the drill genre, with slower beats.

Rappers such as Mavi and Ötenazi have tracks in the alternative trap, which is a blend of trap and hardcore hip-hop, as Sefo represents reggaeton, a mix of reggae and hip-hop, with his pop-like songs.

The birth of Turkish rap dates back to the 1990s when the Germany-based Turkish rap group Cartel, whose members are mainly children of Turkish immigrants who went to Germany to find work during the 1960s, released its first album. The band sold around 500,000 records officially and more than 1.5 million pirate copies.

Becoming more common in Türkiye with Ceza, Sagopa Kajmer, Fuchs and Fuat, rap first started underground in the country when rappers were hiding themselves and exchanging CDs at the parties they held in the small halls.

In the 2000s, rap gradually began to appear in commercials, especially thanks to Ceza, who released his first studio album Med Cezir in 2002. After that, Neyim Var ki, by Ceza and Sagopa Kajmer, which attracted great attention, became an anthem among rap listeners.

Ezhel’s album Müptezhel, released in 2017, expanded the path paved by names such as Ceza. Thanks to this album, which is accessible to everyone on digital platforms, unlike the old ones, the voices of rappers from around the country have started to be heard.