Behind an eerie panda mask hides Cro, a young German rapper who writes and produces all of his music. He calls his genre “raop,” a portmanteau of the words “rap” and “pop.” He self-released two mixtapes in 2009 and 2011 before he was finally signed by Stuttgart-based indie label Chimperator Productions in 2011. Since then, his career has exploded, resulting in a gold single and a debut album, appropriately named “Raop,” that has held the number one spot on the German album charts for four weeks.
Little is known about this mysterious artist who constantly wears his panda mask in public. Besides music, he also has a small clothing label, VioVio, that has become a hot commodity amongst his fans and other artists. Cro is hailed as “the hottest newcomer of the German rap scene” by MTV Europe and fellow German artist Jan Delay has called him “the future of German rap.”
The video for his gold single “Easy” has already reached more than 28 million views on YouTube. The music video is filled with babes riding bicycles who also sport clothing from his label. Cro’s seamless flow shines here, highlighted by a chill, jazzy beat. Like a seasoned American rapper, Cro strokes his ego by comparing himself to Jay-Z and talking about his pimp status. But because the entire track is in German and English speakers won’t know the meaning of the lyrics unless they can speak the language or find a translated version of the lyrics, he just comes off as being cheeky and really cool.
Another track that highlights Cro’s easy rhythm and rhyme is “Meine Zeit,” or “My Time” in English. With a simple old school piano sample and steady bass as the background, Cro’s clever and confident lyrics shine through. It’s clear to see where the comparisons to Kid Cudi and B.O.B. come from considering his use of instrumental samples and lyrics filled with self-proclaimed greatness. He firmly declares that “Meine Zeit ist jetzt” or to non-German speakers, “My Time is now,” and with his crazy, booming success, you can certainly believe it.