What you can learn about German rap at a concert by Prince Pi

And so you stand there, on a Friday evening in Berlin’s Columbiahalle, between all the people who don’t look like the people who usually look like, who go to this kind of concert, and you can hardly get it all in your head still together. Tonight, here in Tempelhof, Prince Pi is playing, and even if you know that Prince Pi has always held a special position in the largely standardized German hip-hop scene, if you remember that it was Prince Pi who rapped by Jimmy and by Kurt and by Chucks and Manowar shirts with holes in them and thus expanded the German rap reference system by a few relevant coordinates early on, but it is still difficult to mentally bring some things together.

For example, that the 2023 Prince Pi, which in its hyper-sympathetic nerdyness can give hours of lectures on the advantages of special Italian coffee machine manufacturers or the perfect sound of a German pre-war sound system, is still the same Prince Pi that was before exactly 20 years ago toured through Germany and challenged every young artist in the youth centers of the republic to compete against him in a freestyle battle. That there was once a Prince Pi who packed the mangy sound of Berlin’s mangy nightlife on an electro-pop-rap album (“Neopunk”) and that it’s the same Prince Pi who introduced a whole generation of high school graduates with ” Compass without North” wrote the soundtrack for enrollment in particular, or, for me, just for adolescence in general.

ADHD is the name of the album. ADHD is the name of his tour. And AHDS is somehow also the program

And then, of course, you involuntarily ask yourself which Prince Pi it will be, who is standing on the stage today, maybe the Prince Pi who wrote love songs whose lines touched the forearms of at least two generations of sad boys and girls tattooed or Prince Pi, who, like no other, as a precise chronicler of the zeitgeist, can capture every form of social distortion in pointed images and press it to the beat. So you stand there, with more tonic than gin in the microplastic cups and realize that in the completely full Columbiahalle there may not even be just one, but quite a lot of unspoken expectations that it is difficult for an artist to live up to them . Actually.

Prinz Pi released his new record a few weeks ago, it is now his 18th album and it is not only very contemporary, but also quite hip-hop-affine, which many would not have believed him to be capable of after his excursions into supposed mainstream pop . ADHD is the name of the album. ADHD is the name of his tour. And AHDS is somehow also the program. When asked which Prince Pi would like to present, the answer is very clear: all of them. Might seem a draw, but it doesn’t.

There is no opening act, the prince steps into the ring himself, after all it’s a home game here in Berlin. To start with, there is “Bombenwetter”, a, yes, bomb song, which is also the introduction to what is perhaps his best album to date, “Hallo Musik” from 2011. I don’t need to look for topics / I deal with the classics / women, conspiracies, sneakers, internships, the young prince was still rapping back then. Almost all of it has not lost its validity. Tracks from the new album follow, alternating with the classics, the grandiose Telegramgruppe (2023) with the grandiose The New iGod (2011).

And if you ask yourself for which of these songs the audience, which is not a normal rap concert audience (usually more like this: latent watch-your-back mood due to omniaggressive mood in the room or optionally a cannabis-induced over-excitement; here more like this: cool Student party vibes) so what songs these people came for, you have to find out here too, somehow for everyone. The hip-hop classics work best, such as “Keine Liebe” (from 1998) or “1995” (from 2023), the highly clocked party numbers “Generation Porno” (from 2011) or “Gib dem Affen Zucker” (2008) work best. and there is also a lot of love for the love songs, which Pi has placed in its own mini set. Even if Phillip Dittberner comes on stage as a guest and accompanies “1,40”, you might find that a bit cheesy, but it really isn’t.

In two hours and 23 songs you learn a lot about German rap itself

If you mix all the colors in a palette together, you get a muddy black. But thank God, artists aren’t just colors, and when you bring together the multitude of their facets, it can even happen that they shine all the brighter overall. After a good two hours and 23 songs, you’re still standing in the Columbiahalle in Berlin, there’s neither gin nor tonic left, standing there between all the people who don’t look as if they could bring everything together like that was brought together this evening in a way that you can’t bring it together yourself – but then he’s happy that a live show succeeds in what most best-of compilations always fail.

The fact that all of this is not so self-evident is of course also a problem of a genre that mostly prefers proven recipes for success to artistic progression. Few artists can produce such a multifaceted work as Prinz Pi. That this is a quality of its own even in the playlist-normed streaming age – that was proven here.