Imagine listening to hip-hop with lyrics in German but the melody starts and ends with a Turkish folk song, and there is the Islamic Sufi flute Ney playing in the middle… Or rapping in German as if speaking in Turkish…This is exactly what Aziza A. does! 
Born and raised in Berlin to Turkish immigrants, Aziza’s dream was to become an actress when she was a child. Instead, she became the first female Turkish-German rapper and one of the several other outstanding female rappers who challenged the male dominated German hip-hop scene. She stands out because of her “Turkish roots” and the way she bravely challenges gender stereotypes about Turkish culture and even Islam to some extent in her songs. Aziza touches on social struggles of the Turkish diaspora in Germany by incorporating themes such as immigration, religion, and modernity. Some of her songs make reference to Islamic elements while some other ones focus on diasporic problems specifically.
She has been active since the late 1990s writing and singing lyrics both in Turkish and German. Currently, she mainly performs nationally in Germany due to her obligations as a mother; however, she has previously performed all over the world. Her rap has an oriental sound – which is the main reason she is known as the “Queen of Oriental Rap”. Naturally I am not the first ever person to write about her; just a simple Google Scholars search will bring up academic articles and books written on this extraordinary woman /rap-singer /hip-hop artist who happens to be unapologetically Turkish, German, oh and Muslim at the same time! Yep – that combination is a thing and works just perfect when put together!
I had a conversation with her about Islamophobia. Her parents are Muslim, and she identifies with Islam culturally. Her mom has been the most influential person in Aziza’s life, shaping how she lives her Islamic faith. She abstains from making any generalizations about how Muslims are or even should be not just in terms of practicing the faith but also simply in terms of lifestyles. “… Muslims live different kinds of lives…” she says, and then continues:
“I don’t want somebody to prove me as a Muslim, but I live my Muslim life as my own style and everyone can. And if it is going into ‘you must do this and must have this’ this is not the Muslim life. It’s very natural to be Muslim for me but we are not radicals, yes, it’s not dominating our lives, but sometimes I pray because it’s in my culture, and it is like meditating and so knowing from my grandfather and my mom, it’s part of my life.”
People continuously react to how Aziza could sing hip-hop due to her cultural, ethnic, and sometimes religious heritage.
Aziza’s profession as a rapper is one of the greatest accomplishments of her life, yet identity issues do overshadow her work and how she is perceived across the world, including Germany, her homeland. I asked her if her lifestyle challenges some of the stereotypes about Islam, and her response was:
“Oh yeah, maybe they say, ooh, you are not covered! You know, it’s always being Turkish they ask me, I mean as a rapper, and as the first Turkish rooted rapper in Germany, the interviews that I gave, like all the years was not questioning my music, was questioning my family and if I have a brother who is running after me with a knife. You know, because it’s not normal for a Turkish rooted girl to do this kind of music. Then they say ooh you’re not Muslim right? I mean they just think about Muslim if they see covered woman.”
Despite all of the stereotyping Aziza has dealt with in all aspects of her professional life, she has been able to keep a humanistic approach in her interaction with other people. For her, it is not about their faith but the human inside them which makes them real. Islamophobia is a result of fear of the other, as Aziza explains very well:
“…this is, the fear if people hear or see covered woman, they’re full of fear, that’s the basic, they’re full of fear and they think ‘oh there’s a bomb under the cover’, they just say panic (Aziza laughs), I’m so over it, I’am so like erghh (Aziza grunts), I mean but this is the way how things work you know. If you wanna put fear into people, you show someone who’s different, and then you tell stories and maybe they are right, you never know, and then one person suddenly is the whole country (Aziza laughs). Islam is a whole country. And then the whole country is bad…if you leave the fear for a second to the side and then just think one minute or give a chance, yeah, then you’ll see.” 
Aziza sums up what is at the core of stereotyping very well — it is the “fear” and how this fear is only nurtured by misrepresentation. She is a happy woman who is unoppressed, multilingual, producing her own work, a mother, travels freely, and she drives, too! With her work, accomplishments, and self-confidence about her roots, she represents the under-represented women in the global Muslim community. Doing so, Aziza takes diversity to another level where one’s choice of how they practice their faith also matters that does not result in an alienated or a marginalized identity unless persistently perceived as such by third parties. 
Kautny, O. (2014). Hip-Hop in Germany. The cultural identity of migrants. In S. Nitsche & W. Grünzweig (Eds.), Hip-Hop in Europe (405-420). Münster:Lit-Verlag.
For more information, please visit Aziza’s personal website aziza-a.de
 Muslim Voices connected with Aziza-A and conducted this interview in August 2019 with the help of Amy Makota, PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology at Indiana University Bloomington.
 Turkish existence goes back to the 1950s in Germany when the German and the Turkish government had an agreement in which Turkey sent thousands of “Gastarbeiter/innen” (guest workers) to Germany on temporary work permits. Those temporary workers, at least a large majority of them, became permanent residents, making Germany home to the largest Turkish diaspora in the world.
 Although at some point (1990s), several artists were billed as oriental rappers and their titles/song titles often reflected the term, the use of “oriental rap” has eventually been discarded (Makota, “personal communication”, 2021) due to its potentially divisional meaning between “immigrant vs. non-immigrant music” and creating a sense of “ethnicization” of the work produced (Kautny, 2014, p.410).
 Aziza’s quotes have been edited for purposes of clarity, readability, and flow.
 This article was initially edited by Amy Makota due to her research expertise in hip-hop music, social activism, gender, and identity matters among the diaspora in Germany.
Derya Doğan is a double-major PhD candidate in Education Policy Studies and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. She explores citizenship education and contemporary Islamic schooling practices in secularized contexts across the world in her research.