Dubbed "Hamburg's hip-hop dinosaur" by its own members, German trio Fettes Brot is perhaps best likened to the Beastie Boys
, sharing with their American counterparts a similar longevity, a comparably eclectic creative sensibility and the same white skin color.
Fettes Brot (roughly, "fat bread," and a slang expression meaning "excellent hashish") formed in 1992 following the dissolution of the rap group Poets of Peeze. Alums Dokter Renz (Martin Schrader) and Tobi Tobsen co-founded the new lineup with König Boris (Boris Lauterbach), Schiffmeister (Björn Warns), and Mighty (Tobsen's brother). Said siblings quickly exited the project, and the remaining trio completed work on Fettes Brot's debut EP, Mitschnacker, issued in 1993 on their own Yo Mama
label. With their first full-length effort, 1995's Auf Einem Auge Blöd, they scored their first hit with the novelty single "Nordisch by Nature," nevertheless winning kudos for their interwoven rhymes and technical prowess. A year later, "Jein" further established Fettes Brot's commercial credibility, and the trio's sophomore effort, Außen Top Hits, Innen Geschmack, proved a major chart hit. While the 1998 follow-up, Lässt Grüßen, earned the group some criticism from longtime fans who claimed their music now veered too far from its hip-hop roots, the singles "Viele Wege Führen Nach Rom" and "Lieblingslied" proved their biggest chart hits to date. Fettes Brot nevertheless announced an extended hiatus in 1999, issuing the stopgap B-sides and remixes collection Fettes Brot für die Welt a year later. The trio finally resurfaced in 2001 with Demo Tape, notching the hits "Schwule Mädchen" and "The Grosser." "Fast 30," a collaboration with rapper Skunk Funk, also helped renew their credibility among purists. After a 2002 hits compilation, Amnesie, Fettes Brot founded their own eponymous record label but otherwise remained off the radar until releasing 2005's Am Wasser Gebaut, their most successful record to date. An album informed more by soul music than rap, it generated the monster hit "Emanuela." With their new label, the three bandmates now had the freedom to work freely outside their genre and in 2006, they pulled a PR prank by announcing a new single from teenage power pop trio D.O.C.H.! The single was actually by Fettes Brot, but they created a phony press release, counterfeit photos, and even announced a Hungarian tour for the band. Several more Fettes Brot singles were released in 2006 and in 2008, they unveiled their sixth album Strom und Drang, a throwback to their original styles of party songs and rap. A quiet period for the band followed until the 2013 release of their seventh album, 3 Is ne Party, which climbed to number three on the German charts. ~ Jason Ankeny & Timothy Monger, Rovi