“If I want to say sex, I will say it. And if I want to say fuck, I can say fuck." Sinaya Sanchis

"In every interview I’m asked how I see myself, Turkish or German. I’m a Berlinerin. Period." Duygu Sebnem Ince

The girls of TFS crew don’t like to be categorized. After they released their debut album ‘Best of TFS’ in 2011, they were overloaded with questions about their controversial rap music. Questions that seemed irrelevant to the crew. Sinaya: “If I want to say sex, I will say it. And if I want to say fuck, I can say fuck. I shouldn’t have to watch my words just because people expect me to act like a lady on stage.”

Mixed crew
Two of the three TFS (Too Funk Sistaz) crewmembers sit down with us in Kreuzberg’s Görlitzer Park. Confident and frisky they rapidly answer the questions – combined with a dose of ironical humor, what they describe as ‘typical TFS humour.’ Duygu Sebnem Ince and Sinaya Sanchis are part of TSF crew since late 2008. “TFS was always different from other rap styles. We don’t have one direction. We do so many things and rap about many different topics,” Sinaya explains. “And unlike other rappers”, Duygu adds laughing, “we also really, really, like to rap about food.”

TFS Crew started with Sinaya and Caliz Aly. Duygu impressed the girls with her rap skills and joined the crew in 2008. As Caliz has roots in Chili, Duygu in Turkey and Sinaya in Mexico, they form a diverse crew. Duygu: “actually, when I saw Sinaya performing for the first time, I thought, wow, cool, this Turkish girl is rapping in Spanish! Later I found out she wasn’t Turkish at all.” Sinaya continues: “back then Caliz and I would mostly rap in Spanish, but Duygu convinced us to start writing raps in German too.”

With titles on their album like ‘Maria Cocaina’, ‘Am Arsch’ and ‘Mein Kampf’, the girls are not shy to rap about controversial topics. Duygu: “especially the song ‘Mein Kampf’ was shocking to people.” The rap is about how third and second generation immigrants struggle with their identity in Germany. Duygu: “I wrote my text about how I experience living in Berlin. People here treat me as a foreigner, but in Turkey they call me German. So, who am I really?”

The girls provoked further by raising their left hand when performing ‘Mein Kampf’, referring to the Hitler salutation. “I rap that some people in Germany still raise their hand. ‘Adjust or go’ – that’s called integration today. When they need engineers they bring them in. The immigrants they don’t want, they just send away. So, yes, some in Germany still raise their hand,” explains Sinaya.

No Labelling
The song stirred the debate TFS hoped for. But it’s not the only thing they want to talk about. Sinaya: “You know, we felt like we had to make a song about this topic – to make a breakthrough in the debate by showing our side of the story. Ironically the rap actually forced us further into that roll of immigrants. If you start with a statement like that, people think you want to be attending every protest or manifestation held about it.” Duygu gets a bit agitated: “you know, it tires me a bit. Those times are over, why do people care so much about where you’re from? In every interview I’m asked how I see myself, Turkish or German. I’m a Berlinerin. Period.”

This type of labelling TFS crew tries to avoid at any time. Sinaya: “I guess people like it to have things clear, to know in what box to put someone. People also like to think that we are feminists, for example. Nonsense. We just rap about whatever we feel like.”

Right now Sinaya and Duygu are working on songs for their next album. They take their time for it. Duygu: “we already have quite some lyrics written down, but now we’re waiting for some good beats.” They notice they’ve become more critical. Sinaya: “when we ask beat makers if they have some good sounds for us, they tend to give us some lame beats just because we’re girls. Back then we would be happy with that, but now we’ve become more confident and take only those beats that we think are really good.”

TFS was never about stardom or commercial success. Sinaya: “Most people who like to listen to the radio want to hear cheerful songs or party music and not critical songs about cocaine or racism for example. Our songs are simply not suited for that. We’re just a bit too bold.”

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