When Cro appeared on the musical scene at the end of 2011, Jan Delay (43, "Oh Jonny") ennobled him in a post on Facebook with the words: "… and here is the future of German rap!" Below is a music video showing a young artist with a panda mask rapping. It was to be the start of an impressive career. Today, Friday (January 31), Carlo Waibel, as Cro was born, is celebrating his 30th birthday.
At the beginning of the last decade, Cro opened the doors to today's state of the art in German hip-hop with a new ease: melodic and danceable beats as well as easy-to-consume lines for the listener …
How "Easy" Cro made the breakthrough
After years of dominance by gangster and street rap, German-speaking hip-hop became over-saturated in the late 2000s. The main protagonists Bushido (41, "Everything will be fine") and Sido (39, "Images in the head") have divided the cake up to now almost alone. The scene lacks an artist who brings ease and good humor into his lyrics. That artist should be Cro. He succeeds, so to speak, "Easy" – with which he not only lands a mega hit, but also gets his own success story rolling.
The most important piece of the puzzle: his panda mask. Or rather the strategy behind it. After finishing secondary school in the small town of Aalen in Baden-Württemberg, Cro expanded his knowledge of brand building during an apprenticeship as a media designer. Not only is his skill in terms of graphics required. Cro also gets a look at the overall picture of an artist in public.
Musical talent remains the be-all and end-all in the industry. For Cro, it's a pretty safe bank, because he starts recording music at the age of ten, learns to play the guitar and piano. But the image of an artist is also becoming increasingly important.
The secret behind the panda mask
Years ago, Sido used the fact that a rapper puts on a mask and is on everyone's lips as a successful marketing tool. Cro pulls a mask on or off and automatically makes you curious. Who is this guy with a panda mask on his head in video clips so relaxed and casual?
As Cro 2019 said in an interview with "The Red Bulletin", however, he also pursues the "desire to draw attention to art instead of to the person" with the mask. In the beginning, art moves somewhere between rap and pop music. Cro simply called the colorful mix "Raop", which gave his debut album a name. He won five times gold and stayed in the album charts for a total of 85 weeks.
Cro reaches the youth and is a trendsetter
More importantly: Cro hits a nerve with the premature babies of generation Z. His texts are often about love, partying, money or travel – all topics that interest young people. In 2014 he released a no less successful record with "Melodie".
As a result, Cro extends its popularity to other fields. He is promoting his own clothing label with "VioVio" and is becoming an advertising star, among others at Adidas and McDonald's, where even a burger is named for a short time after him and two of his rap colleagues ("Crockstahzumjot"). Musically, Cro will be given the honor of playing an MTV Unplugged concert in 2015. To date, alongside the band Die Fantastischen Vier, Sido, Max Herre (46, "Hallo Welt!") And Samy Deluxe (42, "Wake me up"), he is only one of five rappers who have succeeded.
Cro shoots film with Til Schweiger – and flops
Cros' first film, which was released in German cinemas in 2016, is less successful. "Our time is now," continues Cros' career, the rapper plays himself in it. Til Schweiger (56, Tschiller- "Tatort") was responsible for the production, but the film remains far below expectations with 40,000 viewers back.
Cro said in an interview with hip-hop magazine "Juice" in 2017 about the film flop: "The film was awesome, but there were too many cooks involved. That's why I wasn't 100 percent behind it. 'Our time is now' shows not really our lifestyle at all. That’s a shame.
Cro shows matured on his third album
Not a reason for Cro to stick the panda mask head in the sand. On the contrary: Carlo Waibel will come back with new energy in 2017 – as a musician, but above all as a person. On his third studio album "tru." he strips off the youthful carelessness in songs like "Baum" or "Infinity" a good deal and presents himself in his lyrics honest, reflective and adult.
He may no longer win the teens for himself, but he will become more tangible for other target groups. It fits that he has now changed the mask. It is simply kept in white, without the eye-catching panda eyes or other decorations.
In the course of his album, the hip-hop magazine "Juice" Cro asked if he was grown up. His answer describes his pioneering role in the German music scene quite aptly: "In any case, I have not yet lost my inner child. There is nothing worse than standing still. I try something new all the time and am experimenting with rum. When the whole world turns right look, then I'll come from the left. " The only question left is whether in the future with or without a panda mask …