Half gangster, half jogging pants hero. BIGMaa. combines both and raps to musical blends of various electro and rap subgenres. “BIGMaa.” basically means “Big Man”, a mixture of English and the Swiss German word for man. The creative musician is indeed tall and great, as well he raps in Swiss German. Sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, sometimes silly and often critical. Over the last few years, the eloquent musician has published a number of works written in Bernese studios or during his many stays abroad. “De Boca A River” was recorded in Buenos Aires and brings Spanish influences into the beats, with “Nom de Dieu” is played with French phrases.
The creative and funny videos to his tracks creates BIGMaa. with his colleagues themselves, always with the pink pimp-down coat, which has become already a kind of trademark. Overall, the color pink at BIGMaa. is quite common. He likes to slip into other roles, additional style figures, in which the artist can still transform, such as in Breitsch Biggie or Yung Lötscher, a fun-provoking anecdote to the youth of the famous Swiss writer Hugo Loetscher. The passionate copywriter develops his lyrics along an associative concept, the local and the global inspire him equally. His songs tell of life in the urban microcosm, of his late-generation problems and of the interference with the suburban lowlife, his natural habitat – “Sharks style”.
In November 2017 his debut album “$chlimm $chlächt” was released, where the gloomy mood of the BIGMaa lyrics meets melancholic-sluggish and bass-heavy beats by Kollapsar, a producer from the Swiss city of Biel. Recently the double mixtape “Nom de Dieu” was released, according to the motto “State of Mindfuck”. The two-part work moves musically between 90ies Boombap- Shizzle and cloudy New School vibe with thought-provoking laughing up self-written lyrics.
In this article you will find the tracks and videos of BIGMaa. , his songs are available on the website for free download. I talked to the rapper in a Skype interview about his music and his projects. You can find the recording here, as well as transcripted passages of the conversation below.
What does “BIGMaa.” mean?
That actually means “Big Man”. A mixture of English and Swiss German. It’s also funny how I got that name. I have a buddy who does a broadcast once a month on Radio Stadtfilter. This is also an alternative radio from Winterthur in Switzerland. I was there from time to time as a guest. More or less to hang around. And when I was there for the first time, he spontaneously announced me under that name. How he got that exactly, I do not know. Probably because of my stature certainly. And somehow I liked that, so I took over that later as a stage name for my rap project.
Since when do you make music, when did you start with the rap?
Actually rapping so seriously, that was not that long ago. This may have been the case for six or seven years. I’m a bit older now. That’s why I started relatively late, but I’ve always been quite interested in rap music and hip-hop music. I also wrote a few lyrics at the age of 20 and tried them out. But really starting recording and writing really right songs somehow came much later. It was like this in 2013 or 2012, that’s where I started.
You have already released four CDs. First there was “De Boca A River”, so again a game with the languages.
Yes, exactly, that was 2015. That’s when I released my first mixtape. It is actually an allusion. So I recorded the complete mixtape in Buenos Aires, where I lived for a year. During this time, this mixtape was created. I got to know people who make music themselves. Although rock music as rap music, but there was the possibility that I could record something with them. Boca and River are also two football clubs, the largest clubs from Buenos Aires. The largest within Argentina and also the best known beyond the country’s borders. Yes, that was a bit of a pun, too. Or a metaphor, because Boca is more for the social underclass, for the poorer people from Buenos Aires and Argentina. And River is more like the Millionaires’ Club, the stadium is located in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. And “De Boca A River” is to show the complete range from bottom to top. Also the opposites. The songs on this album are actually very traditional hiphop-like. Back then, I just worked with beats I picked from albums I already owned. I did that quite amateurish, so in mixtape style. So rather known beats.
Oh, there’s no voice singing from you now? Or from the others in Spanish?
Yes, yes, the lyrics and the voice, that’s mine. But the beats. That’s in Swiss German. But there is really only one song that was ultimately in Spanish. The people have more, so they had the home studio provided. One is a percussionist, he still plays drums. Another guy who plays the guitar and sings in a band has added a guitar riff to a song. That was more on this level.
Then came as the next release then “$chlimm $chlächt”, that was then almost the first album?
Yes exactly. That’s what I called the album because I felt there was a bit more work behind it. Also a bit more considerations. And I did that completely with a buddy in Switzerland then. I came back to Bern and still wanted to make music and wanted to do a bit more intense. The buddy has been producing electronic music for a long time. I used to go to see him, I really liked what he did. And then somehow I had the idea that from those electronic beats that he produced back then, that would also be good for rap music. Sure, you had to adjust certain things and yes, I could convince him then that we work together. It was quite exciting because until then he had relatively little overlap with rap music. First of all, I had to bring him a little bit closer to the music and show him new songs again and again, new subtypes of rap, so he has a bit of a clue what’s up there. So the different styles that exist within rap. So we approached each other piece by piece and then gradually found out our own sound. In the end, we recorded eleven tracks, which we then put on the album “$chlimm $chlächt”.
Very cool, then came here recently, so in 2019 then Part I and Part II of “Nom de Dieu”. French now too.
Yes exactly. That means “in the name of God”. This is also used more often in Swiss German, that means in my dialect, that is Bern-German. Bern is relatively close to French-speaking Switzerland. And just a lot of older people, like my grandmother, for example, have many such French expressions in the language. I think that’s a nice word too. That’s why I made a song about it and finally named the mixtape, or the double mixtape.
Your website says “Yung BIGMaa.”. What does the “Yung” mean?
Yes, on the one hand BIGMaa. has already been awarded on different platforms, because there is such a South Korean beatboxer, who has the same name or a similar one. That’s why I had to take something different. Since I came across this Yung, just because that was a bit in the time to put such a Lil or Young or something in front of the name. So that’s kind of funny too. Here with Yung Lötscher. So on the one hand because it was a bit overkilled, because everybody uses it somehow, I thought it was funny to use it extra. But somehow, too, because not so young compared to other rappers. It was then on Facebook so that I used that there as the first and then I’ve just taken over all the other platforms synonymous. Since I had the feeling, so yes, I use it for the homepage then too. Maybe it was not that clever, because there are always misunderstandings. How to write that exactly and something. So, maybe marketing was not the best idea, but I stick with it.
Big Maa is as well Yung Lötscher. So that’s kind of synonymous with yourself. A second name.
Yes exactly. So I have more, too, like Breitsch Biggie. Exactly, so I always play with that name. At Yung Lötscher, it was all about drawing parallels to this Swiss author Hugo Loetscher. I had the idea that I could create a kind of art figure for the BIGMaa. , which could be about the young Loetscher. One of the greatest Swiss writers of the last century, not so long ago that he died. I’ve also seen some parallels between his lyrics and my lyrics, but it’s also a bit provocative. Because nobody knows me and Loetscher was already a big guy. But in Switzerland, I guess underestimated. I also found it funny to use the name because my wife, who organizes every year a literary festival with and the people who are there, know the Hugo Loetscher and they think that I am a bit arrogant, that I compare me with that.
Are your texts only on Schwyzerdütsch or do you also use other languages?
Yes, so it is mainly Swiss German. Of course, I always use words from other languages. So through my personal biography and the fact that I have lived several times in the Spanish-speaking area and also have friends who speak Spanish. Then I always use Spanish words. For example, on the current mixtape, there’s a track called Pink. There is also a simple video clip. So I tried so a bit to make a mixture of Swiss German and so typical expressions of the dialect, which one speaks in Buenos Aires. With the Lunfardo. And now also with this mixtape Nom de Dieu, there it also has the song of the same name, so I worked again with French words. So with typical French words, which are also used in Swiss German or in my dialect, the Bern German. I like to play with the language and especially foreign languages. Of course, the common Anglicisms are in it. Also typical Anglicisms that you hear again and again in the hip-hop context.
Are you just talking or do you also have melodic parts, so are you singing too?
I’m trying to bring a bit of melody into my rapeseed. Especially in the hooks. But I would not say that I really sing. It may be a bit of a singsong in the hooks sometimes. Although I have been told by people that they like it, because they feel that I have a melodic way to rap. Whatever that means. But I do not really sing properly.
Your lyrics, that can be about everyday life or what concerns you during the day, but also songs about the music itself, but you also have songs, where you practice criticism. How would you describe your content or the topics you are dealing with?
Now, for example, on the album “$chlimm $chlächt”, it has had relatively many socially critical songs and lyrics on it. Exactly critical of the system or critical of capitalism, there were a relatively large number of songs that were also quite political, I would say. But now on this current mixtape, it was more about the variety of music. I also divided it into two parts, because musically it also goes in two directions. On the one hand in the direction of the 90s with these classic boom bap New York beats and on the other hand it goes in the modern direction, so more trap beats or trap-like beats. As it has come out musically varied, so it is thematic. There are the typical well-presented tracks, which are hip hop and a bit of battle rap, like Kool Savas. That’s it. But then there are also funny tracks, such as there is a song to a Trainerhose. At least it should be meant to be funny, I do not know if people find it funny, too. But this is just about jogging pants and my affinity to it, because I like to run around in it. There are also many melancholic tracks, some of them a little thoughtful, like the track “Vogese” or “Nom de Dieu”, the track is also more thoughtful. I also did not write many lyrics directly, but I just started from a word or phrase or some formulation that I find cool, that somehow appeals to me and somehow makes me think. Then I somehow developed the lyrics from there. Often a bit associative and not so story-telling-moderate. Rather a bit of a brainstorming.
Mexico 68 ?
Yes, that’s right, the track to the sweatpants, that’s the way it is. Mexico 68. Originally the track was called Trainerhose, that is the Swiss German word for sweatpants. I originally had a different beat and that was supposed to be on the last album, but then somehow the two of us did not really like the beat and the song just did not fit the rest of the album. That’s why I re-recorded it with another beat. Now I think it’s better.
If you want to see you live, have you scheduled concerts or did you have any?
Yes, I had a few gigs last year. Not yet this year. I would like to perform, especially with the new songs. But I had a lot to do now, even privately. Therefore, there was little time. Above all, now I have all the time to focus on the music and to finish the mixtapes. Then we also made the videos ourselves this time. That was a pretty big effort. And I think that if you want to perform live, then you have to be a bit prepared as well. This has not been the case so far, so I simply did not have time to worry about how to perform these songs live. As soon as I have a little more time and a bit more air, I will go back to my band room and prepare myself, and then look for opportunities to perform. Actually, I also wanted to make a record baptism. But that has to wait a bit longer now.
The tracks are definitely available on your website as a free download. The site is individually designed, you’ve designed everything yourself, so the design and the photos and here your own style with incorporated.
Yes exactly. So in the technical implementation, as a buddy helped me a bit, the computer scientist is and has often made such homepages. But the whole content and what it looks like, because I was responsible for it and have solved everything with individual graphics. I’m not a professional in graphics right now, but I have a lot of friends around me who are artistically creative and illustrators or graphic artists. Of those I’ve heard something or learned something from time to time. Also regarding the implementation. I’m self-taught, so to speak. But what I often do, so starting from a photo, then I play something with it and abstract. Actually, I work a lot with the color pink, it somehow turned out that way, I do not know exactly why.
Yes, there is this one special jacket or it is almost a coat.
Exactly, that’s legendary meanwhile. Yes, that’s another funny story. Actually also a bit of a starting point maybe for the color pink. For the filming of the one video for the song “Spätpubertät” a friend, who is a tailor, had the idea, she could make me such a jacket. So extra for the video, that would be cool. And she saw a huge down jacket somewhere in a magazine. Then she just had the idea, she buys it in a glockestube. Or what does that mean in Germany? Belfry? So a second hand shop. Since she has bought old blankets and then sewed the jacket and then colored pink. Why she made the pink, I do not really know. I think she just imagined that it would look good somehow. Somehow a tall man in a big jacket in pink color. I also liked the idea and then we did it that way. Funnily that was the video that went best. And for a reason or maybe even the main reason was just this jacket. That was such an eyecatcher and also something where I was often addressed. Well, I also feel like a lot of people did not listen to the music, but just responded to the visual.
How did you get into hip hop at first?
Yes, basically the inspiration in the beginning, or how I came to Hip Hop, so it was perhaps rather atypical that I’ve heard a lot of German rap in my time. Many people I knew back then when I was my age were more likely to hear Ami-Rap. At that time, German rap was still rather frowned upon in Switzerland. Especially the kind of german rap that I heard back then. That’s actually quite exciting, but nowadays everything has changed again. Especially the young Swiss who listen to rap also hear a lot of german rap. A lot of german rap, which I think I did not hear before in Switzerland. The rap music in Germany has also developed very strong and has also become very diverse, which is now happening just a little later in Switzerland. Meanwhile, there is also a pretty good rap scene in Switzerland, a rap community. There are many different types of rap and quite interesting and good stuff. But of course, it’s just a small country with a small market, so that’s obviously a lot smaller than in Germany.
So far released from BIGMaa. :
► Mixtape – Nom de Dieu Part I, 2019
► Mixtape – Nom de Dieu Part II, 2019
► Album – $chlimm $chlächt, 2017
► Mixtape – De Boca A River, 2015
► Video – Partychick & Partydick, 2016