Blankness in Alligatoah’s Musik ist keine Lösung
“Ich bin ein Schauspieler” is a phrase Lukas Strobel, also known as Alligatoah, uses to describe his work.1 Alligatoah is one of the most popular German rap artists at the moment. His music is known for its wit, its satirical undertone, and its carefully crafted personas that talk about their views and problems. However, not much is known about the person behind the stage name. By creating different personas with different views, Strobel avoids being associated with one specific political spectrum. In fact, his music can be used for a variety of situations and it does not become clear which of the political positions he actually supports or which ones he does not agree with. Thus, he created a blankness around his music that has led to the political appropriation of his work and a mystery around the artist himself. Blankness is a strategy that is used that leads to the definition of a song’s meaning, purely based on its reception.2
Alligatoah’s song Musik ist keine Lösung is the title track of his fourth studio album that came out in 2015. The song accuses political music of not having an effect and states that political singers depend on political problems in order to fulfill their passion. The narrative claims that music cannot be the solution for any political or societal issues. However, the audiovisual support of the music video provides a greater depth of the work and proves not only the blankness of Alligatoah’s musical creation but also of him as an artist. An analysis of the song and its music video, based on the theoretical foundation of Claudia Bullerjahn, demonstrates the strategy of blankness that is described by Chua.3 The analysis proves that Alliga- toah creates blankness in his art and person by portraying different personas with different political views that contradict each other.
2. Blankness and Alligatoah
According to Daniel Chua, blankness is a strategy that allows absolute music to be used in any historical context.4 Thus, the meaning of the music is solely defined by its reception.5 This can be visualized by picturing a blank canvas that is painted by the circumstances around it.6 Therefore, blankness functions as a strategy that is political in itself. However, it can work in different ways. In fact, a piece of art can be so full of different meanings that it blanks out. This means that the aforementioned metaphorical canvas is painted with so many pictures that no image is clearly visible.7
This does not only apply to Alligatoah’s music but also to him as a persona. Even in his beginnings as an artist, Alligatoah was wildly discussed because it was not clear whether Al- ligatoah is one person or multiple people, forming a band. The person behind the different personas is Lukas Strobel. In his beginnings as a creator, he had three stage names: The band’s name was “Alligatoah”, consisting of the rapper “Kaliba69”, and the beat producer “DJ Deagle”.8 Strobel views himself more as an actor than as a political singer, which under-3 4 5 6 7 8 lines his approach to his work and explains the different personas he has created throughout his career.9 Similarly to actors in movies, he does not have to be of the same opinions as the roles that he takes. Consequently, he manages to create a form of blankness that allows him to distance himself from his art and its content. By creating different personas with different political views, it becomes more and more impossible to relate the music’s messages to Lukas Strobel as a person, which is an intentional strategic move.10
In an interview with Backspin, Lukas Strobel delves into his thoughts about “Protestsänger” and explains that instead of overtly telling people his opinions about certain problems, he would rather demonstrate an issue by illustrating it in a satirical way.11 Claiming that he does not have an answer to the problems he describes in his works, Strobel wants his album not to be taken too seriously.12 By doing this, he manages to avoid his music from being seen as autobiographical.13 He is only the actor who illustrates the problems that he encounters. However, by only working descriptively and letting the recipient decide what to make of the situation that is depicted, people can interpret his works in a way that is unacceptable to Strobel’s own set of beliefs. He has found himself confronted with the appropriation of his music, which was caused by the blankness surrounding him.14 Alligatoah’s biggest single to date, Willst Du, is a sarcastic take on the topic of drug abuse. The song was released in 2013 and it was very popular, especially among young people.15 More than a year after its release, the German right-extreme party NPD posted the music video to Willst Du on their Facebook account to convince a young audience that they follow the same political anti-drug agenda as Alligatoah.16 The artist, then, distanced himself from the NPD, clarifying that he does not support the right-extreme spectrum.17 His initial response was a sarcastic comment on Facebook as a response to the NPD. Additionally, in his song Musik ist keine Lösung he mentions this situation in a few lines:
Nein, es ist nicht leicht, du musst Gegenwind verkraften Zweifelhafte Leute aus der falschen Ecke werden für die nächste Single klatschen. Zum Beispiel anzuggetarnte rechtsextremgesinnte Sp*sten Die dein Video posten, weil sie kalkulierte Jagd auf jugendliche Wählerstimmen machen.18
These lyrics underline the importance of reception in blank music because they suggest that an artist cannot choose their audience and what happens with their music after its release. The artist is aware that as soon as the music is released it has a life on its own and it is determined by its reception. Because of that, some his songs have been interpreted in a way that Strobel did not have in mind when writing them.19 Nonetheless, the situation with the NPD also shows that Strobel draws a line when his music is made to be something that he does not support at all: He and his management distanced themselves from the statements of the NPD by clarifying that they do not support the right-extreme party.2015 16 17 18 19 20
3. Exemplification of blankness with the help of Musik Ist keine Lösung Overall, Musik ist keine Lösung is a great example when it comes to analyzing Alligatoah’s blankness. The song does not only refer to the aforementioned political appropriation but the music video also underlines Alligatoah’s multiplicity that leads to blankness. Musik ist keine Lösung is the last track of Alligatoah’s 2015 album with the same title. It is remarkable that this song was chosen as the last song of an album that deals with political issues on the first fourteen tracks until it shifts to this song which negates the messages of the precedent songs. This leads to a contradiction that goes hand in hand with the strategy that the artist chooses: To create different political agencies that could be projected onto him that also cross each other out.21 22 That multiplicity and the contradiction in itself creates a blankness in his music. This strategy also becomes evident in a juxtaposition of the narrative between the song on its own or the song with the audiovisual support of its music video. For the analysis, Claudia Bullerjahn’s theories on analyzing music videos functions as a foundation for further interpretations.
1 Alligatoah, “Über Alligatoah,” Alligatoah.de.
2 Daniel Chua, “Beethoven Going Blank” in Journal of Musicology 31/3 (2014), 300.
3 Claudia Bullerjahn. „Analyse von Filmmusik und Musikvideos,“ in Qualitative Medienforschung: Ein Handbuch, ed. Lothar Mikos, Claudia Wegener (UVK Verlag 2017), 534.
4 Chua, “Beethoven Going Blank,” 299.
5 Chua, 299.
6 Chua, 301.
7 Alexander Rehding. "The Ninth at the Wall,” in Music andMonumentality: Commemoration and Wonderment in Nineteenth Century Germany, (Oxford University Press, 2009), 204.
8 Alligatoah, “Über Alligatoah,” Alligatoah.de.
9 Rap.de, “Alligatoah über "Musik ist keine Lösung", u.v.m. | rap.de", November 19, 2015, Youtube, 17:20, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcS12vpDtUE.
10 Jakob Buhre, “Alligatoah Im Interview: ‘Niemand Hat Selbstironie,’,” Planet Interview, 2020.
11 Backspin, “Alligatoah: "Musik ist keine Lösung" (BACKSPIN TALK)”, Youtube, 14:40, November 27, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKRILlJknTw.
12 Rap.de, “Alligatoah über "Musik ist keine Lösung", u.v.m. | rap.de,” 2015, Youtube, 23:30.
13 Buhre, “Alligatoah Im Interview: ‘Niemand Hat Selbstironie,2020 ”,’.
14 Oliver Marquart. “NPD Verwendet Alligatoah-Song Auf Facebook.,” rap.de, 2015.
15 Octavius Hallenstein, “Alligatoah steht kurz vor Diamant-Schallplatte,”, raptastisch.net, 2019.
16 Marquart, “NPD Verwendet Alligatoah-Song Auf Facebook,” 2015.
17 Alligatoah. “Musik Ist Keine Lösung.” Track 15 on Musik Ist Keine Lösung. Trailerpark, 2015, mp3.
18 Alligatoah, “Musik ist keine Lösung”, 2015.
19 DASDING. “Alligatoah Über Gesichter Im Autokino, Ängste Und Schmerzhafte Bauchklatscher | DASDING Interview,” YouTube, July 30, 2020, 6:15, https://www.youtube.com/ watchv=gfbxCe0w15E&list=PL86glM4SX5M0_8MYaYG9k-WE9_QMPMsAH&index=4.
20 Marquart, “NPD Verwendet Alligatoah-Song Auf Facebook,” 2015.
21 Backspin, “Alligatoah: "Musik ist keine Lösung" (BACKSPIN TALK),” Youtube, 2015.
22 Bullerjahn, “Analyse von Filmmusik und Musikvideos,” 534.
- Quote paper
- Insa Köller (Author), 2021, Blankness in Alligatoah's song "Musik ist keine Lösung", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1038810