Fifteen years after his first successful album “Stadtaffe”, the Berlin musician Peter Fox has released his second solo album. The first single from it, “Zukunft Pink”, was released in autumn 2022.
The text settles accounts with everything that the Germans complain about and counters this with a future that shines “pink”. An optimistic vision, where there are no arguments, where it doesn’t matter who loves whom or what the color of their skin is, where everyone is fine. There is also ice cream, pink grapefruit and gin: “Because we are the future, I see the future in pink”.
The song went through the roof. Finally positive vibes after the corona pandemic, in view of the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and existential needs. “Future Pink” was celebrated across the country and was a number 1 hit for weeks. But he was also a bone of contention.
Fox, like many other – mainly white – pop stars, was accused of “cultural appropriation”: A white, privileged takeover of elements from musical genres of other cultures, with which one adorns oneself in order to make a profit at the expense of minorities.
Inspired by the South African house sound “Amapiano”, Fox created a track that should show what music from Germany can be capable of. Namely importing a sound and playing it back in your own language, with respect for the original and the people who invented this original. In this case it was about the “Amapiano”. This music style is not just a subgenre of house music, but consists of various house music and jazz influences – developed in South African townships. It is also the soundtrack to the emancipation of South Africa’s black population.
Fox, who himself has French roots – his birth name is Pierre Baigorry – tried to do everything right: In the press material for “Zukunft Pink” he named beats from South and West Africa as his source of inspiration, but not explicitly the musical style “Amapiano”. , whose history and representatives are mentioned. In response to the criticism, he referred to the end credits of the music video, in which he explains his musical inspirations and names various African artists. He also never marketed his single as something “brand new”.
Despite all the trouble, the song’s success was unstoppable. “Zukunft Pink” became a huge hit in Germany – and now the fans are happy about the accompanying album “Love Songs”.
“Multicultural” vs. “cultural appropriation”
Peter Fox is one of the front men of Seeed. Since the 2000s, the dancehall caballeros from Berlin have shown that Germany can also do reggae. Big hits (“Ding”, “Aufsteh’n”, “Dickes B”) tell about life, about dancing and partying, and about Berlin, the city where the multicultural group got together in 1998. The term “cultural appropriation” wasn’t as popular then as it is today; everyone played what they wanted – and “Multikulti” was particularly hip at the time and a sign of mutual respect, integration and peaceful coexistence of different cultures.
Bands like Seeed, Culcha Candela or the Ohrbooten, the German-Romanian Miss Platnum, the Hamburger Jan Delay and many more made rap, hip hop, R&B, reggae, dancehall, ragamuffin, Balkan pop, funk and soul and mixed them up – without further thought to make – the music of different continents to an extremely danceable, electrifying sound – pop music from Germany, inspired by artists from all over the world.
In September 2008, this Seeed singer stood out from this highly creative musician bubble. By then, Peter Fox had also established himself as a sought-after composer and producer. In an official Seeed break, he sat down in the studio and produced his solo album entitled “Stadtaffe”. According to Peter Fox, this German-language pop record should “be cool in every respect”. And stand out strongly from the Seeed sound. So Fox invited the 40-piece Babelsberg Film Orchestra to the studio, used brass and let it crack and rattle.
Celebrated album to celebrate: “Stadtaffe”
Fox then unleashed this new sound – often called “film music for dancing” – on the German audience. The single “Alles Neu” was the program: the look goes where everything is possible, old things are buried, everything is reissued, polished and changed. Pumping rhythm carried by energetic strings – the song reached number 4 in the German charts. Fox’s conflict with his hometown of Berlin is reflected in his first number one hit, “Schwarz zu blau”. It’s dirty, inhuman, cold and ugly – and the next moment there’s a warm smile in the bakery, the sun is rising and the black sky is turning blue.
The title song “Stadtaffe” deals with Fox’s facial paralysis, which he lives with due to a viral disease (“In a city full of monkeys, I’m the king because I sing for the masses with a wry face”) – but mainly it’s about the Owning the city, rising above it by celebrating everything away.
Celebration runs through the album like a red thread, it moves forward, it pulsates, it electrifies. It reached number 1 in the German album charts and was gold-plated 15 times. A record of the century that turned the German music scene upside down – celebrated not only by the audience, but also by the press and critics.
The success made things difficult for Peter Fox. He announced that there was no way he would continue solo. Promised, released an impressive live DVD and rejoined the ranks of his old band Seeed.
There were more albums with Seeed, even after Fox’s colleague Demba Nabé died unexpectedly in 2018. And all of a sudden, one day in October 2022, the internet exploded: “Future Pink” was here!
Amapiano now also known in Germany
After the trouble about the song had subsided, Peter Fox brought black musicians from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Germany on board in December 2022 and released an “Alliance Remix” of “Zukunft Pink”. The songs are sung and rapped in German, English and the African language Lingála. A gesture of reconciliation to all his critics. In addition, “Amapiano” has gained numerous fans in Germany, which benefits many South African artists.
When Fox announced his album “Love Songs” in April, he promised: “People, ‘Love Songs’ comes out on May 26th and is about love and its absence. An album full of choirs, outdoor recordings and non-stop percussion. Also the good old strings show up…check it out!”.
There are 15 years between “Stadtaffe” and “Love Songs”, Peter Fox is now over 50 and has two children. He doesn’t let the partying go away on this solo record either. He elevates his beloved city of Berlin to a planet where people of all skin colors and stature celebrate together – themselves and the music of the “others”, without which a vibrant culture would be unthinkable.