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Analyzing German Rap Lyrics

Today we’re going to look into German rap lyrics and how German rappers bend German grammar rules to fit rhyme schemes. It’s OK if you don’t know any German, because I’ll translate and explain the rules that I’m talking about.

German is my 2nd language, so if you see mistakes, I would really appreciate if you send me an email at samuel.robert.stevens@gmail.com so that I can correct them and learn some more German.

Using Different Conjunctions in Swervin (Remix) ft. Veysel

Unfortunately, the free preview doesn’t include Veysel’s verse, and the rest of the song is in English, but I recommend listening to it, because I think Veysel had a much better verse than 6ix9ine.

Original lyrics:

Veysy ist so magic, Brudi, ich bin viel zu Merlin

Deutsche Rapper große Klappe, glaub mir, so wie Kermit

Zaza Motherf*cker, excuse me for my German

Rolle mit der Limo, weil ich mittlerweile Sir bin

English translation

Veysy is so magic, bro, I am way too Merlin

German rapper, big mouth, believe me, like Kermit

Zaza motherf*cker, excuse me for my German

Roll with the limo, because I’m now “Sir”

In German, there are two words for “because”: “weil” and “denn”. Both mean the same thing, but they have different grammatical properties. Our example sentence is “I like coffee because it’s hot.” This sentence has two clauses:

“I like coffee”

and

“it’s hot”

“because” joins these two clauses (conjunction junction, what’s your function) into a single sentence. In German, our clauses look like this:

“Ich mag Kaffee”

and

“es ist heiß”

Just like in English, either “weil” or “denn” can join these clauses together into a single sentence. The difference is, “weil” kicks the second clause’s verb to the end of the sentence, and “denn” doesn’t. Here’s what I mean:

“Ich mag Kaffee, weil es heiß ist.”

“Ich mag Kaffee, denn es ist heiß.”

“weil” moved “ist” to the end, but “denn” left “ist” in the same place. In normal speech, you use “denn” and “weil” when you want to some variety in your vocabulary and sentence structure.

Taking off our grammar student hat and putting on our MC hat: in rap lyrics, these different conjunctions help lyricists fit their rhyme schemes. A rhyme scheme is what makes lyrics lyrics, rather than just words. If we were writing some coffee lyrics, we might rap:

I like coffee, because it’s hot

I stay at home to not get shot1

You don’t know me, I don’t know you

You do know all my raps is true

By rhyming each pair of lines, we connect them and make our lyrics more interesting. Really lyrical rappers will rhyme the same noise for a whole verse (16 lines) or work on multisyllable rhymes and internal rhyme schemes.

So if we were a German rapper and wanted the last word of each sentence to rhyme, we could use either “weil” or “denn” to make our lyrics rhyme. Going back to the German remix of Swervin’, let’s look at Veysel’s last two line in the quartet:

Zaza Motherf*cker, excuse me for my German

Rolle mit der Limo, weil ich mittlerweile Sir bin

Here, I’ve bolded our rhyming words (“bin” in German sounds exactly like in English) and italicized “weil”. If Veysel had instead used “denn”, the last two lines would be:

Zaza Motherf*cker, excuse me for my German

Rolle mit der Limo, denn ich bin mittlerweile Sir

And now the lines no longer rhyme!

Breaking the Rules in MONEYHONEYDRIP by Jamule

The last 6 seconds of the 30 second preview have the lyrics we’re analyzing.

Original lyrics:

Ich hab’ Money mit, sag mir, wie viel kostet diese Welt?

Money Honey Drip – Leben schmeckt so süß wie Karamell

English translation:

I’ve got money with me, tell me, how much does this world cost?

Money Honey Drip – life tastes so sweet like caramel

Remember earlier how “weil” kicked the verb in the second clause to the end of the sentence?

“Ich mag Kaffee, weil es heiß ist.”

It turns out that verbs get kicked to the end a lot in German. Many conjunctions, relative clauses and indirect questions are all examples where the second clause sends its verb to the end. An example in English is something like:

“Do you know where I go for a ticket?”

The first clause is “do you know”, the second clause is “I go for a ticket”, and “where” joins them. In German, the same sentence is:

“Wissen Sie, wo ich für eine Fahrkarte gehe?”

The first clause is “wissen Sie”, the second clause is “ich gehe für eine Fahrkarte”, and “wo” joins them. But after they are joined, “gehe” (go) is kicked to the back of the sentence. This is very common in German.

Going back to MONEYHONEYDRIP; in grammatically correct German, Jamule would rap:

Ich hab’ Money mit, sag mir, wie viel kostet diese Welt kostet?

Money Honey Drip – Leben schmeckt so süß wie Karamell

But we can see immediately that this would ruin his ability to rhyme “Welt” (world) with “Karamell” (caramel), because “kostet” would be at the end of the sentence. Instead, Jamule bends the rules of German to make his lyrics more lyrical.

It also makes him sound more casual, rather than a grammar freak who needs to sound as formal as possible.

I hope you enjoyed this little study of German grammar and German rap lyrics, and how rappers make decisions to work with the language, even when they’re not English speaking.

Again, German is my 2nd language, so if you see mistakes, I would really appreciate if you send me an email at samuel.robert.stevens@gmail.com so that I can correct them and learn some more German.


  1. Dealing coffee beans is a dangerous game.↩︎


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Sam Stevens, 2020

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