Interview with rapper Veysel: “I didn’t have it easy”

Interview with rapper Veysel: “I didn’t have it easy”

Rapper Veysel was once in jail himself, now he teaches prisoners how to rap in the RTL+ series “Prison Tapes”. In the starinterview he talks about his experiences with the inmates and the importance of music behind bars.

Veysel is known as a rapper with hits like “Kleiner Cabrón” or “Sorry”, as an actor he was in front of the camera in the series “4 Blocks” and “Asbest”. Now the 39-year-old goes for RTL+ to prison: For an episode of the new format “Prison Tapes” (available on RTL+ from March 2nd) he visits prisoners of the JVA Hamm and raps with them. The format wants to give prisoners new perspectives. Eko Fresh, Nimo and Olexesh also take part.

For Veysel, the visit to the JVA is also a journey into his own past: the rapper himself was in prison as a teenager for assault resulting in death. In the star-Interview he talks about his experiences with the prisoners, tips for rap beginners and the importance of music behind bars.

Rapper Veysel: “It’s a strange feeling when the doors close behind you”

Veysel, what is the idea behind “Prison Tapes”?
We wanted people to tell us about their problems and we helped them as much as we could. In addition, we gave them a little boost of motivation with the rap campaign, which was more of a side effect. You want to teach them something good and convey: You can walk the good path, no matter how difficult it is. It wasn’t easy for me either, but I gritted my teeth and kept walking straight ahead.

Rap and prison – they go together. Sometimes you even get the impression that a criminal past can help you in your rap career. Is that correct?
In the beginning it was like that. There was a time when this credibility was very much in demand: He has already done this and that. Today this question is no longer asked. Are you cool, are you cool. If you’re not cool, you’re not cool.

You have the prisoners in the JVA Hamm visited. What was your impression of the atmosphere and the environment?
It’s a strange feeling when you have to hand in everything, cell phone, passport, and the doors close behind you. The mood was good, everyone was respectful, everyone showed love.

How did you perceive the criminals you worked with there?
I don’t know what they all did. But they’re all there for a reason. But everything is bearable there. The people have a daily routine: 23 hours in the cell, they are allowed out for one hour. Some exercise once a week. One had the door open all the time, but he had to distribute food, clean things and do other jobs.

US rapper Pusha T poses for the camera.

How motivated were the inmates to get involved in the rap project?
It was very different: one was nervous, the other was excited, one was fully motivated. One was thrown in at the deep end and didn’t know how to do it. But I tried to take away any negative feeling from them so that they are motivated to do it.

What do you have to watch out for as a rap beginner?
I told them: Describe your thoughts in four lines. Don’t rap, just write down. I converted these four lines of each into rhymes and wrote a small text. I recorded it, the guys rapped it, I did the hook – and then we had a song.

What was on the inmates’ hearts, judging by their four lines?
One has apologized to his mother, the other says he wants to be there for his children, one wants to make his parents proud. That’s the sort of issue there. But all had regrets stuck somewhere in their lines. I can relate to everyone.

Some hip-hop careers started in prison. Was there anyone among the inmates you rapped with who really had talent?
There was someone who had absolutely nothing to do with rap, but he had such a distinctive voice, so much recognition value – I can still hear it now. Unfortunately he was with one mobile caught and was then not allowed to take part in the concert.

What role does Music generally behind bars?
Music plays a huge role there, more than television. There are cassette decks with CDs, CDs are allowed – only originals, of course. You can buy them if you have money. There was a boy in prison who was a huge fan of mine. So I asked the guard to open the cell so I could give him a hug.

Was there any other story or experience that particularly moved you?
Every story has moved me, I wish them all only the best. They are still young, they can still take everything into their own hands. Life is full of problems, everyone has their burden. But you should learn to carry it instead of letting it oppress you.

Do you have the feeling that the campaign has made a difference?
I said to the boys: you can only pretend that you are accepting it. But you have to walk the good path if you want to achieve anything in life. Sooner or later, being a good person pays off. Of course you shouldn’t be a stupid, naive boy, but you should grow up slowly. And adults know what is right and wrong. They have to make the decision themselves.

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