Mothers are an important theme in hip-hop. They are always praised and thanked, but also cursed and verbally abused. What hardly ever exists, however, are rap songs from the point of view of mothers.
The Hamburg rapper and singer Finna recognized this deficiency in 2014 when she was breastfeeding with her daughter. Fun and self-determination suddenly fell by the wayside, and she wanted to say something about that. “I absolutely love my child, but I didn’t like all the trappings and the role that you’re pressed into as a mother,” she says in the video call.
So she started sketching the song “Mudda” which can now be heard on her debut album “Zartcore”. Accompanied by melancholic piano chords, she sings: “Dress me sexy even behind the pram/ Why should I only wear Birkenstock now?/ I don’t see that just because I’m a mother/ Am I still who I am, just now with a child “.
The chorus combines a reggaeton vibe with a four-to-the-floor beat, over which Finna sings “Als Mudda, Mudda, Mudda – in our world” in soaring euphoria. It’s an encouragement anthem for mothers who don’t want to pretend to their children, who give them their freedom and sometimes laugh their asses off in the mud with them.
Does Finna’s nine-year-old daughter like the song? “In the beginning she found it totally embarrassing and annoying,” says the rapper, who is sitting in front of a café in Hamburg. “But then she was there when I played it live and since then she’s been celebrating it, dancing in the front row and proud that it’s about her.”
When Finna, who is now 31, is still a child herself, music already plays an important role. One of her earliest memories is of her singing along to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in her living room. At school in Ahrensburg – a town northeast of Hamburg – a music teacher recognizes Finna’s singing talent and gives her a solo part in a musical called “Katzen in der Nacht”. Finna briefly sings a line from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, adapted to cats, into the camera. Sounds great – and gave her her first musical breakthrough at the age of eleven. Soon she was in demand as a singer in school bands.
The second breakthrough came in 2015: Finna, meanwhile enthusiastic about hip-hop, recorded a video for her rap song “Musik ist Politik” together with a friend, winning the Hamburg music prize “Krach und Gefuss” and experiencing a little hype. Major label producers get in touch, she supports the Antilopen Gang and is on stage with the Berlin duo Sxtn. But none of this is good for her, it’s going too fast for the rapper, who has struggled with mental problems before.
During a festival appearance in the summer of 2016, a drastic experience occurs: “I noticed how my soul took a hit. Something happened that I can’t place.” The day ends with the police taking her to a closed psychiatric ward. She stays there for a few months, a schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed, and a long period of therapy and rehabilitation follows.
Very cautiously then two years ago the comeback with the single “Overscheiß”. She had a very queasy feeling about it, says Finna. The fear that it would start again was great. But this time she had a network of supporters around her, and her label Audiolith also signaled that her well-being was the most important thing.
It went well. Finna is even doing another tour with the single shortly before the first lockdown – a powerful trap song with which she raps against beauty norms and celebrates body diversity: “We are fat and proud/ Because – hey, I already counter/ And shout it out now: Mine Body my rules/ No photo for Heidi Klum”.
“Overscheiß” is one of the 13 songs on the album, which otherwise works as a queer-feminist empowerment package. In “Slutpride”, for example, Finna sings about the pride of sluts together with her partner Saskia Lavaux from the band Schrott border, confidently advocating a polyamorous and pansexual life. Lavaux also helped record the songs, Spoke mixed, co-produced and encouraged Finna to use her own beats – which is why the opening track “D.I.Y.” is also about DIY.
Finna did well. “Zartcore” brings together a fine mix of songs that stand out pleasantly from contemporary Macker-Deutsch-Rap and continue the tradition of a Sookee. Finna admires the colleague who supported her from the first single. Today the two are friends.
The rappers Babsi Tollwut and Lena Stoehractor also belong to the Hamburg native’s circle of friends, who speaks of them with great warmth. “You just love each other,” she says, beaming from under her cap. Finna also seems relaxed, friendly and in a good mood in other ways. She is currently on her lunch break and rolls a cigarette in between.
The central themes of her album include vulnerability, fear and softness. “Staying Soft” addresses this in the title, just like “VDAZ”, which stands for “Los the fear of losing”. In the accompanying video, Finna sits in front of a black background and gradually takes off her clothes and jewelry and wipes the make-up off her face.
“I’ve probably rarely made myself as naked as in this song,” she writes under the clip. The R’n’B piece with the elastic synths is a touching highlight of the record – Finna calls it a “mutau break”.
When asked how she managed to lose her fear, she says with a laugh: “I didn’t. I’m still terribly afraid of failing, talking nonsense or hurting people. But I want so much to lose that fear that I want to sing it to myself.”
A mantra that the listeners can also use to sing against their own fears. You can only win, just like German hip-hop has gained a positive energy source with Finna. In the title track of the album, she formulates her mission: “Make rap soft and tender again”. He could really use that.