Kollegah & Farid Bang - Nafri Trap EP, Volume 1 (Review)

Nafri Trap EP, Volume 1

The fans of Kollegah and Farid Bang who don’t follow their social media activity will probably be shocked by the sound of their new extended play, and rightfully so. Dancehall beats, joyful singing, pseudo-humorous lyrics and Autotune used so heavily that Daft Punk come off as natural in comparison is everything the five new tracks consist of. The very first thought that would come to their mind is probably “What!? This is supposed to come from the same rappers that recently sparked a nationwide scandal by their aggressive lyrics and are known for epic beats, hard hitting punchlines and a complex lyrical structure, that have always proudly refused to give in to current trends (and by their standing in the German hip hop scene and countless number one albums, staying true to themselves paid off)?”. Yes, it is. But don’t worry, their music won’t stay like this.

Originally, Nafri Trap was planned to be one of two EPs that would have been featured on a deluxe reissue of their controversial but commercially massive 2017 collaboration blockbuster Jung brutal gutaussehend 3 (“Young, brutal, good looking 3”). One of the discs would have included a bunch of brand new songs in their well known and beloved hardcore hip hop style, the other one would have been a novelty gimmick containing parodies of the current Afrotrap subgenre that currently dominates the German hip hop scene and charts in general (it’s a mix of dancehall and trap, and was imported from the French music scene). You guessed right, Nafri Trap is the latter.

However, things changed a lot in the months following the box set’s announcement. At first, the concept of having two bonus EPs to go along with last year’s album was altered to releasing a standalone double EP called Platin war gestern (“platinum was yesterday”), with the serious disc, called Älter brutaler skupelloser (“older, more brutal, more ruthless”) containing 9 and the other one, Nafri Trap (a pun on “Afrotrap” and “Nafri”, a police term for a North African intensive offender), only 6 tracks. But also this plan was scrapped. The release was delayed one and a half months, with the announcement that Älter brutaler skrupelloser would be turned into a full feature length studio album (an average album of each of the rappers lasts over an hour), and Nafri Trap would instantly be released for free on the internet, obviously with one song removed. So, while the German hip hop community still has to wait for the next major release, but get more new music for it, the more light hearted tracks came just in time.

What’s most important about Nafri Trap is that it’s all just a joke. It’s not cleverly thought out, it’s not very ambitious and it’s definitely miles away from the artists’ usually high standards. Its main appeal is to include as many stereotypes and clichés of the currently trending style as possible, and as cheesy and over the top as possible. There isn’t simply Autotune to make the voices sound futuristic, no, it makes the vocals bounce up and down uncontrollably, often making it unrecognizable who of the rappers is on the mic. The choruses aren’t simply light hearted, they’re mind numbingly simplistic, and the beats uber cheerful and summery. The musical impression is so odd that you don’t even pay close attention to the lyrics, which is usually what Farid Bang and Kollegah put their focus on - you are way too overwhelmed by the exaggeration of all the elements to really care about that. But I can tell you: you don’t miss much. While they still kept their multisyllabic rhyming structure for the most part, which is not unlikely the only aspect not inspired by Afrotrap, there is barely a witty punchline or pun. The topics evolve around lots of sex, a bit of fitness (or lack of it) and taking off your backpack while talking. It’s all kept very simple, but that’s the idea after all.

The flaws of Nafri Trap are the EP’s strengths. The parody works if you know who made it. It’s funny that two rappers who usually take themselves very seriously, make dark and epic music with an aggressive tone, make overly poppy and almost happy summer hits, and make them even sillier than the original. But then… let’s be honest. When you first hear it, it’s hilarious. But then it immediately wears off. When they released the music video to Zieh’ den Rucksack aus (“Take Off Your Backpack”) last year, the spoof was unexpected and refreshing. But that was it. I never felt the urge to listen to it more often, and also never looked forward to hear more tracks in that style. Because the idea is much funnier than the actual music.

In 2014, Kollegah and Majoe recorded a song called Von Salat schrumpft der Bizeps (“Salad makes the biceps shrink”) for April 1st as a joke. The premise was to include many traditionally Bavarian elements into the music (that’s hella unfitting), while the lyrics about eating as many proteins as possible to gain muscles were amusing by themselves. The outcome still is massively funny four years later. As for Nafri Trap... once you figured out what they are going for, it wears thin. There are no additional jokes, surprising twists or slight variation on the record’s five songs, which leaves us with very little to actually find amusing. And I’m very happy they dropped the double-EP concept in favor of two separate releases. Whether the forthcoming album will be good or not, Nafri Trap would have dragged the overall quality of the package down.