How many Indonesian songs are there

A few days ago Jens Hellmund received mail from Indonesia again. By Dira Sugandi. Or more precisely: from the management of the Indonesian singer. She is currently enjoying great success with the official song for the Asian Games, which begin this Saturday in Jakarta - the video for the song alone has already been viewed by more than four million people. In any case, Dira Sugandi's management contacts Munich and cautiously asks Jens Hellmund whether he is interested in a song they will share.

Jens Hellmund is sitting in a café in the Gärtnerplatzviertel and drinks Spezi. If he weren't about six feet tall, he wouldn't attract any further attention. He is wearing jeans, jogging shoes and a T-shirt, and his hair is cut short. He speaks calmly about his career, he hardly gesticulates while speaking and mentions in passing that he is now in contact with the singer and it is quite possible that he will record a song with her. What you need to know: Jens Hellmund is a Munich rapper who hardly anyone here in the city knows.

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He calls himself "Audijens", is currently doing German-language hip-hop, appears - if at all - at smaller shows in the Glockenbachwerkstatt or in the backstage, and with his German songs has a limited reach. Still, he's a star - in Indonesia. His unique selling point: "I'm the only white man who raps in Indonesian," he says. In Indonesia it is called the yen. Some of his videos have 500,000 clicks, and there are always requests from Indonesian rappers who want to record songs with him. In the spring, when he was last on holiday in Indonesia, he was invited to radio shows, and last year his Indonesian single "Cewek Manis" even landed in the top 15 of the Amazon download charts. And the question remains: How did this success come about? In any case, it is not easy to explain. A search for clues.

Jens Hellmund, 34, grew up in the Fürstenfeldbruck district and has been making music since his youth. German-speaking hip-hop. But it doesn't become more than a hobby, he earns his living as an IT consultant. In 2013 he was sent to Jakarta by his employer - for almost two years. At that time he couldn't speak the language, didn't know a single person there - but neither did he want to live like a tourist in Indonesia for two years. His goal back then: "I wanted to integrate properly," he says, "I didn't want to hang out with Germans, I wanted to learn the language and learn something about the culture." And that works best when you talk to the locals a lot. And with music. He wrote to a hip-hop community in Indonesia via social networks and asked who would like to record songs with him. When he landed in Jakarta, a rapper picked him up and took him home for several days.

Munich or Indonesia?

"I would rather have a million views from Indonesia than a concert in Munich in front of 500 people. I think it's nice when I can lead my normal life in Munich."

Jens Hellmund

During the day Hellmund worked as an IT specialist, gave computer lessons and sold computer licenses. After work he made music - and learned Indonesian while rapping. That could also be the reason that he speaks extreme slang (Bahasa Gaul) and that his Indonesian Facebook videos run with subtitles - no, no German translation, but subtitles in Indonesian. "My vocabulary is limited," Jens Hellmund openly admits. That's one of the reasons why his Indonesian songs don't necessarily go into depth. The songs are sometimes about love that is not reciprocated, sometimes about friendships that are quite possible, even if people are often different. The people in Indonesia appreciate that - at least that "a man from the West tries to master their language, to rap in their language," says Hellmund.

His videos not only get a lot of clicks, but he also gets tons of nice comments. Hearts can often be seen, often also the expression "Bule Gila", translated it means something like "crazy foreigner" - for a few years now, foreigners have been coming into the Indonesian media again and again, who either play with being a stranger or try to do so to be a stranger. That brings fame and attention. And ongoing inquiries from Indonesian musicians. Hellmund is taken seriously as an artist - but jokes are also made about him. "When I noticed that they were taking it up with humor, I was happy. Because the Indonesians' image is that Western people are always serious and not joking. When Indonesians connect me with humor and see that we can be relaxed too , it's great for me. "

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Jens Hellmund definitely conveys humor with his songs. "Cewek Manis" is a love song with a light and poppy rhythm, dedicated to the Indonesian influencer Awkarin, a blogger who can not do much, but reaches 3.6 million people. "If you don't marry me," he raps, "I'll kidnap your dog" - Awkarin's dog also has an Instagram profile. A touch of gangster rap - but that can backfire, especially when wit and irony are not recognized. When he once let half-naked women appear in one of his videos, he immediately received death threats.

Jens Hellmund tells that too without much emotion. "The death threats leave me cold," he says. He plans to travel to Indonesia again in a year or two. Until then, he'll just make Indonesian music from Germany. And he wants to donate the proceeds from the song with Dira Sugandi - for a poor project in Jakarta. He only has positive memories of the people there, now he can give something back. Once he lost his wallet and ran out of money for a week: "Friends bought me fried rice every day to make ends meet."