What's your favorite old school album

With DIE DA!?! The formation Die Fantastischen Vier achieved a great sales success in 1992, through which rap in the German language was made accessible to a broad public for the first time. On the one hand, the song is considered a ‘milestone’ in German hip-hop history; on the other hand, the band met with rejection within the scene due to its commercial success and its turn to pop mainstream.


I. History of origin

THAT ONE!?! appeared on the 1992 album4 winswhich afterNow it’s off (1991) was the formation's second release in album format and, like its predecessor, only contained German lyrics. In the autobiography of the Fantastischen Vier, rapper Smudo reports that the sound carrier company Sony, which was responsible for the group at the time, honored the success of the first album, but at the same time encouraged people to think about the production of "radio-compatible" material. The band was quite receptive to such suggestions while working on the album4 winsthe song “How could I be so stupid”, which was recorded at the end of the 1980s, was revised, which ultimately resulted in “The woman who can't do it on Fridays”. This song was up for debate alongside the track “Saft” as the first single, a new revision including new samples led to the version that was finally called DIE DA!?! was published as the first single from the album (cf. Niemczyk 1999: 113-120). The production of a video clip was initially refrained from, only after it had become foreseeable that the song would herald the band's commercial breakthrough, the accompanying music video was created under the aegis of director Angel Garcia (cf. ibid .: 130).


II. Context

When Die Fantastischen Vier released their song DIE DA!?! published, the recently reunified Germany had a nationwide active hip-hop scene, the formation of which had taken place in the 1980s in the FRG and the GDR and in which rap in German gradually began to establish itself. In the early 1980s in particular, American artists and films, some of them also US soldiers stationed in Germany, offered German audiences the opportunity to familiarize themselves with hip-hop culture and to learn how to express themselves - rapping accordingly the German scene-goers, too, initially in English (cf. Elflein 1996: above).

In the course of German reunification, there soon began to be increased public interest in German-language pop music, when it had largely disappeared from radio programs after the New Deutsche Welle phenomenon had faded. This new turn to German lyrics and a hip-hop scene that had been growing in strength since the late 1980s also resulted in more favorable starting conditions for native-speaking rap. The sampler published in 1991 is considered to be groundbreaking for this developmentKrauts with Attitude, whose initiators wanted to provide an overview of the German scene - one of the three German-language contributions is “Jetzt geht’s ab” by the Fantastischen Vier. The title of the sampler indicates that the orientation towards the American models was still extremely dominant at this point in time. It is to be understood as a reference to the Afro-American formation Niggaz With Attitude (NWA), who integrated the racist swear word “nigger” into their name - “Krauts”, on the other hand, was a derogatory term for in US and British circles, especially during the Second World War German in use (cf. Jacob 1993: 213-215). This gives the impression that German hip-hop had not yet fully emancipated itself at this point in time. An independent genre designation was not (yet) used in public - in fact, formulations such as “German Hip Hop”, “New German Spoken Song” and “New German Rhyme Culture” only began to establish themselves in the course of the success of the Fantastischen Vier (cf. . Mager 2007: 267 f.). Although the formation had been producing rap in German since the late 1980s, unconditional recognition within the scene was denied, primarily due to two central building blocks of the German hip-hop discourse of the time: First, the roots of hip-hop are in the At the end of the 1970s, it was usually associated with the New York borough of the Bronx, which in turn was and is commonly considered a ghetto. Afro-American residents of this ghetto emerged as the originators and protagonists of the urban subculture, whose art was seen as an expression of a racially marginalized minority. Accordingly, the culture of hip-hop was able to offer children of immigrants in German-speaking countries, in particular, identification opportunities and gave them the opportunity to transfer the values ​​of the American role models to their own everyday reality (cf. Elflein 1996: above). The group Advanced Chemistry, for example, which is undoubtedly firmly anchored in the canon of the German hip-hop scene, thematizes the migration background of their band members very clearly in the song “Fremd im Eigen Land” and takes a position on the numerous neo-Nazi-motivated attacks in the years after the reunification . Such statements consolidated the "authentic" external perception of the band, which is generally regarded as the counterpart to the Fantastic Four. Its members were all socialized in the middle class in the Stuttgart area, the formation also did not excel with similar “reality rap” publications, but rather with cheerful “party rap”. Second, Die Fantastischen Vier acted in a scene in which the question is openly asked who can be considered credible and talented, and thus als real ’. In US hip-hop, the aggressively articulated pursuit of commercial success and wealth has long been part of the image of well-known rappers, and in Germany, too, high sales figures are no longer in absolute contradiction to artistic integrity (cf. Kautny 2008: 145-150). But especially in German hip-hop of the early 1990s, it was necessary to reject rapprochement with the pop mainstream. The Fantastischen Vier, who at the latest thanks to the success of DIE DA!?! clearly opened up to the pop business, thus deliberately circumventing the genre conventions and losing its reputation in the community as a "commercial" "pop-rap" group. Within the scene, the accusation was expressed that the music and the appearance of the group had given the public a completely wrong image of hip-hop culture, whereupon a marginalization of the achievements and ideals of the 'old school' was feared (cf.Loh / Verlan 2015: 372-377).

The commercial success and entry into the pop mainstream can, however, also be read as a logical consequence of the appropriation of popular music. The codes of hip-hop as a pop-cultural form of expression of Afro-American provenance have to be renegotiated and modified in the course of the German adaptation. In addition to the use of the German language, the topics dealt with can also count among these elements of appropriation, in the course of which naturally reinterpretations arise. Even on their first releases, Die Fantastischen Vier did not show an attempt to imitate the American role models, but rather to interpret hip-hop according to their own socialization, to implement it and thus celebrate successes. THAT ONE!?! exemplifies how modified forms of pop music practice can initially cause irritation, especially in the relevant subcultures. If the prevailing conventions are broken and this process leads to success, rejection within the scene can be expected. Nevertheless, this results in new starting points for further stylistic developments (cf. Hornberger 2014: 96 f.). This becomes obvious due to the fact that German hip-hop of various forms has meanwhile become an integral part of German pop mainstream. The Fantastischen Vier performed in this regard with DIE DA!?! Pioneering work for numerous subsequent artists.


III. analysis

The DIE DA!?! - rap is designed as a dialogue between Smudo and Thomas D., Smudo denies the first, Thomas D. the second verse with short interjections from the other rapper. The third verse is shared by the two band members as well as the pre-chorus, in the chorus the voices sound together. The lyrics deal with the liaisons of the two songpersonae, whereby at the end of the rape it dissolves that the same woman is meant and that she seems to have a third lover. According to the band, the story told is based on a true incident (cf. Niemczyk 1999: 120). From a technical point of view, rap can largely be assigned to the conventions of early old-school hip-hop: Smudo and Thomas D. limit themselves almost exclusively to end rhymes and refrain from complex internal or double rhyme structures, and the flow of language is essentially characterized by regular eighth-note rhythms and avoids rhythmic irritation. While increasingly complex rhyme and rhythm structures began to develop in the course of the 1990s, the techniques of DIE DA!?! - rap are quite typical of hip-hop of that time (cf. Elflein 1996: above). The apparent closeness to mainstream pop, which has been criticized especially in hip-hop circles, can be traced back to the subject of the lyrics, which is to be located far away from the valued socially critical content.

The arrangement of the instrumental is relatively complex, it consists of a total of 16 different sound layers, which can be faded in and out variably and thus ensure a varied design of the beat. Two song templates that are taken up are of fundamental importance for the composition: firstly, the brass riff sounding in the chorus, which also serves as a template for the whistled motif and its chord basis Cm7 / F7 for DIE DA!?! is constitutive - it comes from the song “Right down Here” by the Indian singer Asha Puthli; second, the rhythmic chord pattern played in the Rhodes sound, which goes back to the song “Mister Magic” by jazz saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. This piece also uses the mentioned chord change, for DIE DA!?! the overall pitches have been raised slightly. The intro of the song is based on “Le Serpent”, which the French percussionist Guem released in 1978 in collaboration with the Ensemble Zaka Percussion. Furthermore, DIE DA!?! a voice sample: after the second chorus there is a short interlude in which - integrated into a scratch passage - the quote “Who is she? She is beautiful!" can be heard. This is from the German version of the filmStar Wars: Episode IV (Star Wars) and is voiced there by Luke Skywalker. The scratching combines a quote from a classic ’of recent film history with hip-hop-typical DJ techniques. Collecting different sound sources, especially from the fields of funk, soul and jazz, but also from films, to create new instrumentals is a common and constitutive practice in hip-hop (cf. Kautny 2010: 1) - The Fantastischen Vier also fall here not out of the norm. However, due to the numerous sound sources and their variable combination, the beat is highly complex and differs, for example, from Advanced Chemistry productions, which are widely regarded as “minimalist” (Jacob 1993: 221). The four-to-the-flour rhythm with a synthetic-sounding bass drum, which refers to the specifics of dance music, proves to be striking. This design is atypical for hip-hop, as is the whistled melody, and the almost sung chorus including brass riff and introductory pre-chorus is to be regarded as unusual, at least in the context of this early phase of German hip-hop - such elements can be borrowed from interpret contemporary pop music beyond narrow hip-hop conventions.

The video clip shows the band in two main scenes: on the drive in a convertible and during the performance of the song. The Fantastischen Vier can be seen on a drive through Leipzig, which is still clearly marked by the GDR era. Analogous to each new stanza, a different woman gets into the convertible after a car breaks down. As is typical for hip-hop, these images give the clip an urban feel, as does the performance scenes in front of a house facade that has not been renovated. The unusual dance movements and the clothes of the actors in sometimes bright colors, which certainly caused criticism in hip-hop circles (cf. Loh / Verlan 2015: 372 ff.), Counteract this impression. As the band emphasizes, originally no video clip was planned, the artists themselves had no influence on the design (cf. Niemczyk 1999: 130) - in this case the video is primarily an additional marketing tool. So the visual staging of the song is DIE DA!?! ultimately to be understood as a relatively spontaneous result of the sudden commercial success of the Fantastischen Vier.


IV. Reception

THAT ONE!?! reached number 2 in the German charts, a total of 750,000 units of the single sold. As a result, the band was seen on British music television as well as in numerous German talk shows in 1992 and 1993 and was presented as a prototype representative of German hip-hop, while other representatives of the genre continued to operate outside the mainstream and did not receive any mass media attention. To date, several cover versions of the song have been published: for example by singer Sasha, by the rockabilly band Boppin ’B and the hip-hop group K.I.Z, whose version was only made available online. The duo, your favorite rappers, made up of rappers Sido and Harris, also released one clearly to DIE DA!?! ajar song.




Music / writer / songwriting: Andreas Rieke, Michael B. Schmidt, Michael DJ Beck, Thomas Dürr
Producer: Andreas Rieke, Andreas “Bär” Lesker, Klaus Scharff
Label: Columbia
Recorded: 1992
Published: 1992
Length: 3:38


  • Advanced Chemistry. “Foreign in my own country / I destroy my enemy”, 1992, MZEE Records, AC 01 CD 92, Germany (CD / single).
  • Asha Puthli. "Right Down Here". On:Asha Puthli, 1973, CBS, S 65804, UK (LP / album).
  • The fantastic Four. "That one!?! ", 1992, Columbia, COL 658332 2, Germany (CD / maxi single).
  • The fantastic Four. "That one!?!". On:4 wins, 1992, Columbia, COL 472263 2, Germany (CD / album).
  • The fantastic Four. "Now it's off". On: Krauts With Attitude. German HipHop Vol. 1(Various Artists), 1991, Boombastic Records, 262 039, Germany (CD / Compilation).
  • The fantastic Four. "Juice". On:4 wins, 1992, Columbia, COL 472263 2, Germany (CD / album).
  • The fantastic Four. "How could I be so stupid". On:Best of 1990-2005, Four Music, FOR 82876744442, Germany (2xCD, cassette / compilation).
  • Grover Washington Jr. "Mister Magic". On:Mister Magic, 1975, Kudu, KU 20, US (LP / album).
  • Guem et Zaka percussion. “Le Serpent”. On:Percussions, 1978, Le Chant du Monde, LDX 74674, France (LP / album).


  • Your favorite rappers. "That one". On:Your favorite album, 2005, Aggro Berlin, AGGRO-027-2, Germany (CD / album).
  • Boppin ’B.“ That one!?! ”. On:Hits, 1994, Mikado Records, MK 94-208, Germany (CD / album).
  • Sasha. "That one!?!". On:A Tribute to Die Fantastischen Vier, 2009, Sony Music, 88697309792, Germany (2xCD / album).


  • Elflein, Dietmar: “From the new German spoken song to Oriental Hip Hop - Some thoughts on the history of Hip Hop in the FRG”. 1996. URL: http://www.wahreschule.de/Forum/forum_texte1.html [11/09/2015].
  • Hornberger, Barbara: “We are from the middle class, you know’. Essayistic Notes on the Location of German Pop Music ”. In:Typical German. (Own) views of popular music in this our country (= Contributions to popular music research 41). Ed. by Dietrich Helms and Thomas Phleps. Bielefeld: transcript 2014, 77-100.
  • Jacob, Günther:Agit pop. Black music and white listeners. Texts on racism and nationalism, hip-hop and raggamuffin. Berlin: Edition ID Archive 1993.
  • Kautny, Oliver: “‘ when I’m not put on this list… ’canonicalization processes in hip-hop using the example of Eminem”. In:No time for losers.Charts, lists, and other canonicalizations in popular music (= Contributions to popular music research 36). Ed. by Dietrich Helms and Thomas Phleps. Bielefeld: Transcript 2008, 145-160.
  • Kautny, Oliver: “Talkin 'All That Jazz - A Plea for the Analysis of Sampling in HipHop (Editorial)”. In:Samples. Online publications of the Society for Popular Music Studies / German Society for Popular Music Studies e.V. 9th Ed.by Eva Krisper, Eva Schuck, Ralf von Appen and André Doehring. 2010. URL: http://www.aspm-samples.de/Samples9/Kautny.pdf [03/09/2018].
  • Loh, Hannes / Verlan, Sascha:35 years of hip hop in Germany. Höfen: Hannibal 2015.
  • Lean, Christoph:Hip hop, music and the articulation of geography (= Social Geographic Library 8). Stuttgart: Steiner 2007.
  • Niemczyk, Ralf:The fantastic Four. The last music of the occupation.The autobiography. Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 1999.

About the author

Benjamin Burkhart is currently a PhD student at the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar and a research fellow at the Center for Popular Culture and Music at the University of Freiburg.
All contributions by Benjamin Burkhart


Benjamin Burkhart: "Die Da!?!" (The fantastic Four)". In:Song dictionary. Encyclopedia of Songs. Ed. by Michael Fischer, Fernand Hörner and Christofer Jost, http://www.songlexikon.de/songs/dieda, 10/2018.