If you are reading this post, then you are probably already pretty aware of how challenging it can be to learn a new language. So, as a German learner, you can empathize with and be wildly impressed by the rapper Casper. Raised in America, he moved to Germany at the age of 11 when his parents split up. And despite having a German mother, his German-language knowledge was practically non-existent. Today, Casper is one of Germany’s most popular rappers. Like I said, impressive — right?
Let’s use his journey and his successes as motivation set to a fantastic soundtrack. This month, learn German with the music of Casper!
Get to Know Casper
Casper was born Benjamin Griffey on September 25, 1982. His mother is German and his father was an American soldier. As an infant, the family relocated from Germany to Augusta, Georgia. His mother then moved Griffey and his sister back to Germany following his parents’ divorce and trouble with his stepfather.
But, as mentioned earlier, Griffey had no German language experience during his childhood in America. Initially, the move was a challenge for the pre-teen.
Remarkably in 2003, roughly a decade after moving to Germany, Griffey released Grundstein. The EP was bilingual like the artist himself.
The Music of Casper
While Casper released his debut album, Hin zur Sonne, in 2008, it was not an overnight success. Through friends, he initially began freestyling and, eventually, received guest spots here and there.
In the early 2000s, he founded Kinder des Zorns with Separate, Abroo, and Fadee. The group released a single album, Rap Art War.
A solo mixtape, Die Welt hört mich, followed in 2006 with his debut full-length Hin zur Sonne in 2008. With these two releases, Casper began touring extensively in Germany, including with Prinz Pi. Additional guest spots and collaborations continued to increase his visibility in the German rap scene.
The turning point was 2011’s XOXO. His second full-length release entered the German charts at the very top: number one. Not only was it his first number one, it was also his first appearance in the charts. The record features “Auf und davon,” a catchy single where Griffey discusses the personal challenges of life. But it was not to be the last hit.
Two years later, Hinterland followed to similar commercial and critical success. The album features the opening track and lead-off single “Im Ascheregen,” a piano-driven song that bounds optimistically in contrast to his lyrics calling for burning the city down.
Casper continue his string of hit albums with 2017’s Lang lebe der Tod. It also saw him continue with a variety of collaborations, including with American rockers Portugal. The Man and Einstürzende Neubauten founder Blixa Bargeld.
He took his history of collaborations to a new level in 2018 when he partnered with Marteria. The chart-topping rappers met expectations for their joint-album 1982. The album’s lead-off single, “Champion Sound,” is a soaring and memorable track that is full of confidence. It sees each man reflecting on their own childhood and journey to the current day.
While fans eagerly await his next release, you can pass the time with his German podcast with musician Drangsal, Mit Verachtung, from Diffus.
While Casper is considered a rapper, at times his delivery is more sung than spoken. And it is easy to see the influences of rock on his style. Is it rap? Or is it rock? With his grit-tinged voice, it also comes together. It is no wonder he has been dubbed an “emo rapper.”
Looking for another Ohrwurm to help you learn German? Check out previously featured musicians and bands!
Photo courtesy Sony Music Germany. This post contains affiliate links.