TRETTMANN - #DIY
Trettmann is an exception. Nobody sounds like the singer from Leipzig, who actually gave up and then reinvented himself again: as a trap troubadour with the Blues in his heart. He shaped German pop music with it. Now the first album since his reincarnation is being released. “#DIY” condenses what made Trettmann the person and musician he is today into ten songs.
“#DIY” starts with an end. “Nothing worked, because I was already dead,” Trettmann sings in the intro. That sounds dramatic and yet accurately describes at what point he was in the summer of 2015, worn out by years between passion and reality, tired of chasing a dream that continues to fade. What happened next is one of the most amazing stories in recent German pop history. Trettmann went to Berlin and made a song with a few old friends: partly for fun, partly therapeutic, maybe just because he had to. It felt right. So they made another song, and another, and then another. Until suddenly everything was different.
In 2016, three EPs were finally released, which can justifiably be filed under “celebrated”. There were also several guest appearances on the platinum album “Palmen aus Plastik” as well as features with half of Germany's rap elite, from Megaloh to Ufo361. The notorious connaisseur platform All Good declared him Artist of the Year. Trettmann went on his first tour of Germany. It was sold out. In this process, the aforementioned Berlin friends formed the KitschKrieg collective, which at the time was stuck in a similarly deep valley and today, less than two years later, continues to show the way for German pop music, with productions for, among others, Haiyti, Die Beginner, Bonez MC & Raf Camora and Trettmann. Above all, however, a new sound was formed, a new identity for someone who had actually already given up. The post-everything crooner from the cloud.
The trap troubadour with the blues in his heart. The favorite singer of your favorite rappers: Gzuz, Marteria, Jan Delay, Sido, Samy Deluxe, they all publicly raised their hats to the man who sounds like nothing and nobody else.
It may be a cliché, but Trettmann is actually one of a kind. A man in his early forties who, as a child, absorbed the jazz of Billie Holiday, the soul of Marvin Gaye and created the freshest pop music of our time in the here and now. A true veteran, who sailed under the radar for years and now collects millions of streams, without a lobby, without obvious role models, without contortions. Such careers are actually not intended in the world that is Pop music. But Trettmann has always been a dreamer in the best sense of the word, a romantic and believer who has never seen why he should accept the ideas of others as given for himself. Instead, he just did his thing. That may sound banal. But anyone who has ever set foot in the minefield of the music industry knows that this is really special. With KitschKrieg, Trettmann has now also found an environment in which work can become structure, and creative insanity a tangible product. “Only with the family, do everything yourself” he sings on “#DIY”: the beats, the pictures, the business. That basically says it all. Trettmann needs nothing more than his Kush and his crew to shoot out small hits and larger-than-life anthems as a matter of course - with all the breaks and peculiarities that his biography inevitably brings with it.
Trettmann grew up in the Fritz-Heckert-Siedlung in what is now Chemnitz. The settlement was once the second largest development area in the GDR: a place that stood for progress and prosperity, that was to offer its residents social status and comfort. With the turnaround, this perspective changed as quickly as drastically. The plaster peeled off the house fronts almost overnight. With the new possibilities came new idols, new charlatans, new problems. Money ruled now and there was none. The panel construction blocks, with their district heating and promise of the future, suddenly became a symbol of hopelessness. The "Platte" became where you wanted to leave from. Very far away.
The "Wendekind" Trettmann wrote this story in the song “Grauer Beton”. He doesn't want to “ride around on the Ossi thing”, he says, but that has never been told before. It's the story of millions. Basically, you cannot understand Germany in autumn 2017 without it. Sido, who was born in East Berlin and struggled with his biography for a long time, named “Grauer Beton” the song of the year. Trettmann was a teenager when the wall came down. While friends and acquaintances fell around him, he discovered music as his personal escape route. Even as a child, because of the favorable altitude of the Heckert area, he was able to hear the latest R&B and Disco hits on western radio; later Rap and Breakdancing caught him. In the early nineties, Reggae and Dancehall from Jamaica were added. He began to throw parties, moved to Leipzig to start his own sound system and to finally sing in German, so fluently and naturally and completely unembarrassed, as no one else was able to in Germany's music scene. He was there alone, and maybe that's why he hit the proverbial glass roof of his genre. At some point Trettmann didn't feel for bruises under his baseball cap anymore.KitschKrieg once described their creative process like this: Once the task is clear in your head, the music will produce itself. That is a remarkable approach and all the more relevant in the context of “#DIY”. What does a debut like that have to do if it was pretty passable even without a real album? Yes, what can an album be worth if everyone can hear their favorite songs anyway, as it suits them? KitschKrieg and Trettmann answered this question very consistently for themselves. “#DIY” is an exercise in focusing. While the “KitschKrieg” EPs were mostly direct reflections of the current living conditions, “#DIY” condenses all the influences and experiences that have shaped Trettmann over the years to just under 40 minutes. The pieces are more definitive, timeless, maybe more adult. Ten songs, not an ounce too much, but also not one too few. Every beat has meaning, every line is a story, every feature makes sense. “#DIY” is the thickest possible sum line under what has been and at the same time points to the future. The future of a real artist who has found his way.
“#DIY” is about death and life, about last night and about the beauty of tomorrow. You can hear the soul and R&B records from Trettmann's childhood. You can hear the attitude and swing of Dancehall, including Hip-Hop, which gave him an identity as a teenager - here in its contemporary form with purple melodies and characteristic 808 kicks straight from KitschKrieg's Kreuzberg laptop laboratory. There are the glaring turn-up moments like the cleaning light anthem “Nur noch einen” with Haiyti and Joey Bargeld from the extended KitschKrieg family. There are star guests like Marteria or Gzuz. But there are also flawless ballads of the kind that are otherwise all too often left to the snooze bags from Schlagerland in Germany without a fight. Trettmann has never shied away from sincere emotions, something he also learned from his heroes overseas. You can't fully understand him if you don't see the Blues singer in him; this quiet melancholy that he doesn't shed, even in his most euphoric moments. He never sanded away the rough edges and other irregularities of the German language. He just gave them their very own poetry.
There is this secret key moment on “#DIY”. Trettmann quotes the great Billie Holiday, after whom the song is named, and one of her lines: "Give me a song that I can feel." In many ways it is the archetypical Tretti tune, with its references to the Afro-American cultural treasure, the large pictures and the motif of eternal awakening. It's the kind of song that can bring tears to your eyes without you really knowing whether you're sad or just perfectly happy for a brief moment.