Olexesh - Radioaktiv (Review)

Martin_Canine OLEXESH

In early 2018, German rapper Olexesh released not one, but two albums, Rolexesh and Radioaktiv. They were published absolutely simultaneously, same day same time. Digitally, each album is available individually, but on the physical release, they can only be bought as a double album, simply entitled Rolexesh. While the other album is the one that’s solely named on the cover artwork of the box and therefore obviously the “main” project, it’s the second disc, Radioaktiv, that contains the hit. Magisch hit number one on the German song charts, and Rolexesh did the same on the album charts - how much of that is owed to the bonus disc will probably never be revealed. It’s no surprise that Radioaktiv only peaked at number 28 when Germans prefer CDs over downloads, and each purchase of the double album is solely credited to Rolexesh. It’s one of the weirdest marketing policies I’ve seen in a long time. But hey, Kollegah and Farid Bang will release their latest collaboration again in a huge and expensive box set with 15 bonus tracks (in contrast to their last box edition with two bonus DVDs and a 5 track bonus EP) so the title for the strangest release strategy has not yet been officially awarded.

Now, can you view Radioaktiv as a full studio album of its own or just a bonus disc or mixtape? Wikipedia calls it an album, and since it’s available on its own for digital purchase, contains a chart topping hit and lasts 41 minutes, why treat it any differently than Rolexesh?

While Olexesh surely is a technically good rapper, he struggles to find an identity of his own. At parts, he’s just as testosterone drenched as Kollegah and Farid Bang, also with a similarly skilled flow, but then he goes for the more modern trap sound established by artists such as Fler or Shindy. Songs like Magisch, which are sung rather than rapped, are reminiscent of Bausa and his smash hit Was du Liebe nennst. It just doesn’t work out altogether, and gives too little attention to all premises, and does not add any new perspectives to the game.

The most dominating sound on the record is Afrotrap, which slowly but steadily took over German hip hop in the past two years next to regular trap, gangsta rap and hardcore hip hop. It’s a genre that’s very difficult to evolve and that doesn’t usually offer much space for personality. While regular trap can range from Future’s sinister trips to Drake’s introverted melancholy to Lil Pump’s fun driven meme anthems, Afrotrap always has the same rhythm patterns and always feels tropical and upbeat. Even the slower, ballad-like pieces have a bit of a holiday feeling. Of course, much of this is due to our own cultural expectations - you know, the ones that make songs about war become famous as summer hits just because they are Spanish (in case you’re wondering, I’m talking about Vamos a la Playa), but the thing is that Olexesh is a German rapper who creates music from a German perspective for the German market. Rappers like RAF Camora or Miami Yacine have got the most there is out of the limited possibilities of Afrotrap. There’s little that Olexesh can do, and this is reflected on Radioaktiv.

Olexesh is all flow and little lyrical complexity, but that’s fine if you got a flow THAT great. But it belongs on much more hard hitting beats, the same ones that Kollegah and Farid Bang rap on. That’s exactly the thing: Olexesh’s lines about drug dealing, money and masculinity don’t fit onto songs that could have been the soundtrack for a relaxing day on the beach. It’s absolutely no wonder that of all songs the album’s hit is the love song with the soft RnB chorus that croons “you’re so magical, you enchant me”. There are a gazillion of German rappers coming and going, but unfortunately, Olexesh doesn’t do much to stand out. He is supposed to be the face of German hip hop in 2018, but he’s neither a game changer nor a great continuation of an established style. He tried to combine a tough attitude with comfortable holiday feeling, and it ends up being too soft for hardcore hip hop and not upbeat enough for feel-good music. And I can tell you that when the Afrotrap craze is over, Olexesh will adapt a heavier style, and it will be much better suited for him. But right now, it is the genre that gets you high in the charts, and hey, why not jump on the bandwagon while it’s still in motion?


UPDATE: Rolexesh announced a third album for 2018, which will be released later.

Also, Kollegah and Farid Bang scrapped the deluxe box set and instead went for recording a full blown new studio album. - Martin_Canine