Fler

Fler

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The eponymous fourth album by Aggro Berlin rapper Fler marks the end of the ever controversial Berlin-based hardcore rap label, which closed up shop in April 2009 after eight years of activity. It's nowhere near as incendiary as his full-length solo debut, Neue Deutsche Welle (2005), whose often extremist lyrics set off a firestorm of controversy at the time of its release, nor his second album, Trendsetter (2006). Like his third album, Fremd im Eignen Land (2008), it finds him toning down the incendiary rhetoric and putting the emphasis instead on his craft as a veteran rapper whose career goes back nearly a decade to when he made his album debut alongside Bushido on the early Aggro Berlin classic Carlo, Cokxxx, Nutten (2002). Anyone well acquainted with Fler's album output to date -- or that of Aggro Berlin, for that matter -- knows more or less what to expect: a longwinded album of hard-hitting beats and arrogant swagger that starts off strongly and gets increasingly spotty as it progresses, with lots of guest features filling up the second half, including turns by Aggro Berlin chief Sido and Fler sidekick Godsilla. This time around, the standout banger is "Check Mich Aus," a vainglorious album-opener whose beat is absolutely massive, comprised of an ugly, wonderfully distorted synth riff, a steady rat-a-tat of gunfire, and an ominous chorus of background chants. It's the work of Djorkaeff, who produces almost all of the album along with Beatzarre. The other standout track is "Ich Sing Nicht Mehr für Dich," a radio-friendly collaboration with Aggro Berlin's go-to female pop vocalist, former Nu Pagadi singer Doreen. It's a contrived pop-rap effort, for sure, but it's well crafted and showcases the rarely heard soft side of Fler. In the end, there's nothing particularly special about Fler that differentiates it from his previous albums other than that it marks the end of his tenure with Aggro Berlin and thus signals a turning point in his career. All the same, it's surely one of the better German hardcore rap albums of the year, and fans of not only Fler but Aggro Berlin in general will definitely want to give it a spin.

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