Rapper on dole faces benefit cut for lyrics

Rapper on dole faces benefit cut for lyrics
Photo: Felix Landbeck
An unemployed Berlin rapper calling himself Tapete has landed in hot water for rapping about living off the state after his job centre discovered his lyrics online. He now faces losing his welfare benefit.

In particular, the rapper also known as Leonard Kroppach got in trouble for the line: “Thanks to the father state, for letting me live at his expense.”

The 28-year-old Tapete (German for “wallpaper”), who has been claiming Germany’s basic unemployment benefit Hartz IV for nearly three years, was summoned to his local job centre two weeks ago and told by case workers that they did not see why his electricity bills should be paid while he makes fun of them.

He has since received a letter asking him to explain the phrase in writing.

In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Kroppach denied that he was mocking the state. “If the job advisers had bothered to listen to the rest of the song, they would have noticed that it’s a reaction to social policy in this country,” he said.

According to an article in the online newspaper Heise, Tapete’s offending line is a sarcastic comment common among benefit claimants in Germany. It is apparently aimed at politicians who demand that they be grateful for the state support.

The rap song was found during the job centre’s routine investigations to find undeclared earnings. On top of an explanation for the lyrics, the authorities also want Tapete to declare all the money he has made as a rapper since 2009, a list of all his performances (“easily 200,” he says), the costs of his equipment, as well as his current credit documents.

“I have always told them that I want to be a musician, and they always laughed at me,” Kroppach told the Süddeutsche. “Then someone at the office googled my name and found a review in a music magazine.”

The rapper was also annoyed by the other questions he is being asked to answer. “I was asked where I got the money for the recording studio,” he said. “Those advisers still live in the 90s. Today, all I need is my three-year-old PC, a good mic and my huge talent to make good music.”

“Much worse is that the fussy advisers want to know where I slept that whole time,” he added. “I just stayed with people. I have no idea on whose couch I’ve slept over the years.”

But he hopes that the bureaucratic letter will also raise his profile. “I want to become independent. I’ve already got a lot of interview requests – thanks, job centre!”

The Local/bk

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