Rapper Kool Savas emerged as one the most controversial German pop stars of his generation via misogynistic and homophobic lyrics that followed in the divisive traditions of American hip-hop.
Born Savas Yurderi in Aachen, Germany, on February 10, 1975, he was the son of Turkish immigrants that returned to their homeland shortly after his birth. There his father was imprisoned for political activism, forcing his mother to return to Aachen alone. The family reunited in 1987 and relocated to Berlin, where 12-year-old Yurderi first discovered rap. He also pursued acting, and in 1997 made his feature debut in the film Geschwister-Kardesler. Originally dubbing himself King Kool Savas, he first surfaced in English-language hip-hop collectives like the Basic Elements and M.O.R. ("Masters of Rap"), and made his recorded debut on the 1999 Westberlin Maskulin release Hoes, Flows, Moneytoes. After creative differences forced him out of M.O.R. in 2001, Kool Savas mounted a solo career, founding his own Optik label to issue the LP Der Beste Tag Meines Lebens. Singles like "Schwule Rapper" ("Gay Rappers") and "Pimplegionär" ("Pimp Legionaire") earned him a devoted fan following as well as the scorn of critics. Kool Savas also transformed Optik into more than a vanity label, recruiting an impressive roster of up-and-coming acts including Eko Fresh
, DJ Nicon, and Melbeatz (aka Melanie Wilhelm, Yurderi's longtime girlfriend). Eko Fresh
later exited Optik and in late 2004 issued "Die Abrechnung," an attack on Kool Savas that quickly earned an answer record, "Das Urteil." Yurderi also maintained an ongoing feud with Swedish rapper Promoe
. The collaborative album with Optik Army, Optik Takeover, followed in 2006, before 2007's solo effort Tot oder Lebendig appeared, featuring the likes of Azad and Senna Guemmour of pop group Monrose. In 2011, Kool Savas released Aura, which shot to the top of the German album charts. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi