Interview with Enes from the Beroots Bangers

Enes is a French rapper living in Spain. He and his friend Zemo are forming the rap group Beroots Bangers from Barcelona. They have recently released a new video ‘Escapate’ with lyrics about MCs who should escape the stereotypes of being show-off gangster rappers. I talked to Enes through Skype about Spanish rap and the ‘Spanish Revolution.’

How did you get to Spain?

I was born in Paris, well, in the suburbs of Paris. But my father was born in Spain, he was a political refugee in France. He came back to Spain some twenty years ago and I was sick of the Paris suburbs. Once during holidays I decided I would never go back to that shit. I stayed in Barcelona. It’s my little paradise, I just love Barcelona.

So you speak Spanish?

When I came here I spoke only French then I learned here Spanish and Catalan. Because we also speak Catalan here, it’s one of the small languages of the region.

How old were you when you moved to Barcelona?

I was fourteen, just getting fifteen.

What was your relation with French rap then and now?

I grew up with that music. The first rap song I remember hearing was Je danse la mia of IAM. That’s my natural music ‘cause I grew up in the suburbs. I’ve been listening to it since I was a little boy and I never stopped doing that. My whole family, my friends from childhood, they all live in Paris. So I am still in touch with the French hip-hop music.

Are there many listening to French rap in Spain? In fact I was translating French rap into Hungarian because here people like French rap but they don’t understand anything.

It’s the same in Spain. I’ve got an initiative of translating French rap into Spanish because they really like the music but they don’t understand anything. It’s the same with English, they love it and consider it something that should be respected but in fact the [American] guys are rapping ‘Your mother is a bitch’. Spanish guys are really bad at languages. The new generation used to speaking a bit of English but rather the ‘school English’. So they don’t understand the American rappers.

How much politics are involved in Spanish rap?

There’s not much politics involved, in fact Spanish rap isn’t about anything. It’s more like the typical ego-tripping American rap. That’s the normal school of Spanish rappers. It’s quite hard to find real songs with real subjects. We have few who talk about politics. but the most political rap in Spanish is not even from Spain, they’re Los Aldeanos from Cuba.  El B and Aldo who make political rap against Castro. They are living in Cuba and they may get into jail and die for that. I consider their music the best Spanish rap in the world.

And in the music of Beroots Bangers?

We don’t actually talk about politics. We didn’t even want to make a song about the Spanish Revolution. I used to saying that we are not politicians but journalists. I prefer to describe the situation to the people and let them make their conclusions. I don’t want to make value judgements. For example I may talk about how much the government spends on military stuff or health care. But I’m not taking sides.

What is that video about when you were sitting on a bench and talking about the Spanish revolution?

That’s exactly what I have just said. When I made that video I felt the youth listening to our music just didn’t get what the whole ‘Spanish Revolution’ is about. Some thought it was wonderful, the others thought it didn’t serve anybody and the campers just held up the metro. Nobody was conscious about the goals of the Spanish Revolution. So we explained to our listeners in the video that the revolution is not about party politics.It’s a spontaneous start-up saying people had enough of corruption and corrupt politicians. They want real democracy. We explained them [in the video] it was important to go to vote ‘cause if you stayed at home you wouldn’t make a change. You should vote for small groups and punish the big parties. Force them to make it better because they’re loosing votes. We explained them the reasons.

After the elections the whole Spain was painted in blue as we say. The neoliberals got to power. They got 32-33%. 37% didn’t vote. The socialists lost a lot of votes. The neoliberals won in Barcelona too which is [was] considered the socialist fortress of Spain.

But you still campaigned for something in the video. Saying you should vote is campaigning.

We didn’t campaign. We just used our power as artists. That is the power of diffusion: I can make a video and my fans would see it. We just wanted to explain the demands of the Spanish Revolution. A lot of people understood the Spanish Revolution was against voting but it was about voting for the small parties, not for democrats or republicans. The biggest problem is that we have these two huge parties but they are the same shit. The video was just about for whom the people shouldn’t vote.

It was not an option to hand in invalid votes?

The problem with that is that in Spain the invalid votes are re-distributed by percentage between the parties running in the elections. So you actually give your invalid vote to them.

Did you participate otherwise in the camping?

I went everyday to the camping in Plaça de Catalunya. We went there every night because at 9 we had at every square the ‘casserolada’ which is making noise with kitchen equipments. But we also re-distributed informations through Facebook and Twitter. But by now I’m disappointed with the developments.

What kind of developments?

There are no decisions made. The three main concepts were: no more corruption, no immunity for politicians. [Second] No more multi-employment for politicians. For example being a representative and having a position at a private company. The third was the change within the regulation of banks because they were responsible for the financial crisis. 150 000 000 EUR was paid by Spain to save banks which cover the budget of education for 80 years. That is the budget of education since my grandfather was a schoolboy.

I agree with everything at the camps because they raised important issues. But you can’t make too many changes at a time. They are loosing the revolution because there are no decisions made to change in the three main goals. It was better to focus on those and not to try to make more and more changes at a time.

Do you really think the people would reach these things if they kept on protesting and making ‘casserolada’ every night?

I don’t know. I mean we reached huge things in ‘68 in France. Right now everybody is looking at the Spanish Revolution. When two weeks ago the police entered Placa de Catalunya everybody was supporting the Spanish Revolution, right now nobody talks about it. Why? Because we spent two weeks on talking and didn’t do anything, no declaration was made, nothing. It’s nice to camp but without ideology they can’t achieve anything. I am not sure this would make big changes. Small things may change though since people expressed they had enough.

Would this change anything in rap? Rapping more about social issues?

I was about to release a new song before the Spanish Revolution titled ‘Datos’ (Numbers) with information about the budgets and financial issues like the one I mentioned before. But with the Spanish Revolution I stopped it because I didn’t want to confuse people and look like making profit from the situation. Two months ago nobody was writing about the politicians and right now everybody is about to release a Spanish Revolution compilation. What the f*ck? In my opinion they may be singing about it but it’s not without financial interests. They should do the same thing as we did. Explain things to the youth.

Maybe you should release it if you feel like doing the real thing and you can stay critical to these issues.

I’m gonna release it. It’s a 7 minute track without chorus. But I think it wouldn’t be ethic to do so now. It would look like I’m forcing my interests. It’s nice to make a song about the Spanish Revolution. But not like this: after many songs about cars and bitches the republican and neolib rappers are releasing these songs. My reaction to this was: ‘Go to hell!’

[This post was published in Hungarian at Lángoló Gitárok music blog.]

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I have just found this lovely six-minutes-long video. A group walked around in Budapest and asked people what song they were listening to.


Recently, a group of young and creative people travelled to Hétes to make a video about Roma children living there and discussing what it would look like to become popular on TV. Hétes is quite a neglected neighborhood in Ózd city, Northern Hungary. These young kids are rapping about reality TV shows in Hungarian media. They look happy, funny and dedicated. But their ordinary lives are far from something that a member of the majority would consider happy and funny. But still you have to live and find happiness in your life…

The situation of the youth changed some years ago when Kriszta Bódis, a documentary director started a summer program which aims to educate the participants through creative activities. She organizes there a camp with social worker, teacher, journalist etc. volunteers, and there they teach the children and often take care about the families. They share their experiences and communicate with the participants of the summer camps on this blog.

This latest video was made by a group of creative people from Budapest and the media/film group of Roma in Hétes. The project was lead by Kriszta Bódis. Sadly, this comes after the rise of ethnic tensions in Northern Hungary. The conflict between Roma and majority communities has been difficult to discuss until now. From now on it sounds like a yes or no question.


Very sad I didn’t pay close attention and didn’t see that on March 16 Jamie Woon published on YouTube his new music video for the song Lady Luck from the upcoming album. But now I am sharing this sweet video with you which was shot in Budapest.

I know it’s funny to read this from a Jamie Woon fan but I love the video because it is not full of the clichés I frequently mention. You can see him taking the tram and the metro in the city. The shots are more of playing with the lights, with the shapes and the patterns.

I think if I was not from this city I would never be able to find out which Central and Eastern European city this is. I would only know it was Central and Eastern Europe because even in this video they couldn’t make it without having a picture of a Trabant car.

This is what Jamie Woon tweeted after publishing the video:

@Abeano well i can certainly recommend budapest’s network. World class with some lovely 70s colour schemes

To make the ‘I frequently mention’ clear, I am posting this video as well. Also shot in Budapest. It’s Katy Perry’s Firework which starts right away with a shot of Buda Castle. Absolutely touristic.


Roma Rally

23Mar11

This video was made by the Foundation of Subjective values in the project We Are Here. The film tells the partly funny, partly sad story of two Roma boys who would like to be rally racers. (The video has English subtitles.)


The new thing to me with this media law debate was that it was not only politicians, philosophers and whatever academic or journalist intellectuals supporting the campaign for free press but other sort of public persons also spoke up for the issue. It’s a very good thing on the one hand because now we can see that a lot of people feel concerned no matter what their profession is, they would like to support Hungarian media. On the other hand it is indeed very sad. Because it shows there’s less and less limit regarding who feels concerned. It’s more and more citizens saying OK, I had enough.

I couldn’t stand not posting until the the event (the organizers will also provide live stream with Ustream [btw, a Hungarian company!] from the demonstration).

For the ‘Free Press for Hungary’ campaign they had a bunch of Hungarian public persons saying a few words about why they are supporting the campaign. Here is Bori Péterfy, IMHO one of the best singers of our country. I made subtitles for the video so that you can see her talking about why she wouldn’t want her child to be born here… She’s pregnant that’s why it is now an issue for her. (Sorry for translating the child as ‘he’, of course I don’t know if it is a girl or a boy, and in Hungarian we don’t use he/she, and Bori didn’t say anything about that either.)

And now you have to listen to her music!!!


Tomorrow is a national holiday in Hungary, the anniversary of notable events during the 1848 revolution. That was the first time when Hungarian people went to the streets and rallied for free press for example. Nowadays, when Hungary is involved in many polemics about its media law–and how this law was changed by the pressure on behalf of the EU–we’ll have the third demonstration for free press tomorrow.

I will surely be tweeting from the event here, maybe sharing audio here and streaming online here.