gaddafi gals is the only german rap trio you need in 2018
We premiere the group's video for 'The Death of Papi,' shot on a former soviet training ground in East Germany.
Photography Dorka Csora
Punk rock and hip-hop have always shared crosscurrents and Vienna/Berlin-based rap trio Gaddafi Gals certainly smudge the definition of what it means to be punk in 2018. Rappers Slimgirl Fat and Blaqtea and producer Walter P99 Arke$tra make underground hip-hop that pays homage to the genre’s love of gold chains, fast cars, and diamond rings, all while spitting punk lyrics at the forces that seek to divide us. On their debut EP, released last summer, they cover Aaliyah’s “We Need A Resolution” and sing about their “love for the Fila” and Tom Ford.
The three musicians come from diverse musical backgrounds and formed Gaddafi Gals as an aside to their own solo projects. Elsewhere, you’ll find Slimgirl Fat creating spacey R&B as Nalan381, Blaqtea performing dance-oriented Deutschrap as Ebow, and Walter P99 producing his own murky beats. They say they came up with the name Gaddafi Gals before thinking about the music, and that despite referencing the name of a former dictator, it’s not intended to be political — at least not in the traditional sense. The name itself acts more as a metaphor for a lifestyle fueled by power, money, and gold. It’s a lifestyle fetishized by gangsta rap and one that shares some traits with the authoritarian lifestyles of dictators like Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi Gals take aim at this lavish lifestyle in their video for “The Death of Papi,” which was filmed in a former soviet training ground in East Germany. i-D spoke to Gaddafi Gals about their video, the importance of engaging in political discourse and their love for Abra, Amerie and 90s R&B.
Where was the video for “The Death of Papi” filmed, and do you have any memories from the shoot?
The video was shot in a desert in East Germany. After a forest fire, the Soviets used the place as a military training ground, which is why it stayed like this. We came there very early in the morning and had cheap coffee. We were scared to step on a forgotten mine, or something. If the owner of the car we used had seen how we drove his ol’ Volvo through the sand, he would have killed us anyway! After 12 hours without eating anything, we were completely dizzy and started dancing like we were medicine men.
Slimgirl Fat: I remember that the light was pretty annoying that day, and it was cold and I wanted more than just the cheap coffee we had. Very unromantic, like a real video shoot.
In the video you’re wearing designer Halla Farhat’s distinctive yellow uniboob bustier. What drew you to her work?
Slimgirl Fat: We know Halla Farhat through a common friend. We fell in love with her designs, with the material she’s using, and with her. Also, with the jeans by Florian Buder and the glasses by Federico Protto – we know them [as well], and they make great art.
One can hear many influences in your music, from Aaliyah and Amerie to Abra and Kelela. What is it that you love about American R&B and hip-hop?
Blaqtea: Almost all of my friends grew up in the 90s and had an immigrant background. We could more likely relate to music and art made by black artists. We could relate to their struggle, because we knew how it was to face racism every day. I remember the day Tupac was killed, even though I was only six years old. I also remember how my aunt taught me how to dance while we were listening to Shaggy. Those artists were the only thing we were really feeling in mainstream media.
Slimgirl Fat: I love the way Abra uses her voice. She layers it a dozen times and creates a haze of different voices. Every one of the artists you mentioned has what’s most important to me: fragility and force.
Walter P99 Arke$tra: To me, the internet seems to blur all the borders. Abra is right in front of me on my computer screen. Damn! German rap, American R&B, Italian movie scores – it’s all the same for now. When I was 15, I discovered DJ Screw and Kingpin Skinny Pimp, and that’s all I listened to for years. Erykah Badu screwed and chopped. Also Amerie’s “1 Thing” was a huge song.
Do you think it’s important for all artists to make some kind of political statement through their work?
Slimgirl Fat: Being unpolitical is pure laziness and I don’t have time for that. It is, in fact, dangerous. My private life is very much based on getting political and using all my resources to fight for something that feels right. In the case of my art, I keep the freedom to do what I want and what feels right in the moment, and even if what comes out doesn’t look very political at first glance, it still is heavily influenced by my political persona.
You recently recorded an album. How is it different from your EP?
Blaqtea: The beginning sounds like the opera song from The Fifth Element and it ends with three teenagers sitting in front of a TV playing a PlayStation.
It will be very different. We evolved our style, and in the end of the recording process it felt like we really found something new. We tried to make a conceptual record; the EP was more like a collection of songs. It will be a dark and mystical journey. We murder a whole army of Papis and rest in a temple of love. That’s all we can say for now!