Brothers Keepers

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Brothers Keepers - Kirchentag Cologne 2007 (7093).jpg

Brothers Keepers is a German-based transnational anti-racism project, bringing together hip hop, reggae and soul musicians, headed primarily by Afro-Germans.


The idea for the project took root when a German of Mozambiquan origin, named Alberto Adriano, was brutally killed by neo-Nazis in Dessau in 2000. A group of musicians decided to organize and fight back.

The following quote is about Adriano's death and its effect.



Brothers Keepers has local groups active in information campaigns, presenting teach-ins at schools etc. However the project primarily gained prominence in Germany through the collaborative album, Lightkultur. The title is a pun on conservative politician Günther Beckstein’s term "deutsche Leitkultur" ("German leading culture"), demanding that foreigners subject themselves to the supposed standards of German culture. The album features German musicians such as Torch, Samy Deluxe, Afrob, Denyo from the Beginner and D-Flame. The proceeds of this album went to charity.


Gender Dynamics[edit]

Brothers Keepers presented themselves and delivered their message in traditionally masculine ways. Their presentation was heavily influenced by the Black masculinity of mainstream American Hip-Hop, but maintained a distinctly Afro-German identity and spoke to Afro-German issues. Especially in lyrics and videos that were explicitly against Nazism and anti-Blackness in Germany, they formed a confrontational masculine collectivity. This was reaffirmed by their exclusion of women from their music and videos, an absence which they claimed was due to female performers being pregnant or on maternity leave. Some of the female performers in question, Sisters Keepers, contrasted with that masculinity with a rhetoric of peace and coalition-building rather than direct confrontation. In fact, in the music video for Sisters Keepers's "Liebe und Verstand," members of Brothers Keepers make visual and auditory cameos, giving the song a gendered authenticity. Although Brothers Keepers sought to reaffirm Afro-German identity with a masculinist perspective, it is important to note that the formation of the Afro-German identity was done largely by Afro-German women.[2]

Song lyrics[edit]

The lyrics on the album are influenced by Black Power rhetoric and are militantly anti-Nazi, proposing solutions to racism ranging from education to violence. The militancy is especially well illustrated in the German Top 10 hit "Adriano", a seven-minute tour de force produced by DJ Desue, featuring the crème of German rap. Its video shows a procession of rappers, marching as a united front and the chorus, sung by South African-descended R&B star Xavier Naidoo, goes thus:[3]




The project is not limited to Germany. It focuses on manifestations of the African diaspora throughout the world and is supported by international artists such as Jamaican reggae musician Ziggy Marley and Senegalese mbalax musician Youssou N'Dour. There is also a UK Brothers Keepers, which, while lacking the organizational superstructure of its German counterpart, contributed a track to Lightkultur.

There is also a female version of this Movement/Band called the Sisters Keepers consisted of Nadja Benaissa, Ayọ, Kaye, Nicole Hadfield (de:Groove Guerrilla), and Tamika, along with Tesiree, Lisa, Mamadee, Pat and Meli (de:Skills en Masse, de:Ischen Impossible) with Onejiru (Pielina Schindler).



Year Title Chart Positions
2001 Lightkultur (with the Sisters Keepers)
2005 Am I My Brother's Keeper?


Year Title Chart Positions Album
2001 "Adriano - Letzte Warnung"
2005 "Bereit" "Afrobob"
"Will We Ever know?"


A list is available on the website.


  1. ^ project's website Brothers Keepers - Wir über uns at the Wayback Machine (archived August 8, 2013)
  2. ^ Weheliye, Alexander (2009). "My Volk to Come: Peoplehood in Recent Diaspora Discourse in Afro-German Popular Music". Black Europe and the African Diaspora.
  3. ^ "adriano - letzte warnung". YouTube. Retrieved 13 July 2013.

External links[edit]