Patrick Losensky, better known to German gangsta rap fans as Fler, was born on the western outskirts of Berlin. With no father figure in sight, Losensky experienced trouble in school, ultimately deciding to live on his own and apprentice as a painter. Losensky's hip-hop dreams came later; he did not rap at all before the age of 20. Pursuing hip-hop rather than criminal activity, Losensky was first heard as a guest artist on Bushido recordings in 2002, under the name Frank White. A year later, he signed to Aggro Berlin, Germany's premier gangsta rap label. Under the name Fler, the artist released his first single in 2004, "Aggroberlina," which debuted in the Top 100 on national charts. Fler's first solo record, Neue Deutsche Welle ("New German Wave"), hit shelves and airwaves a short time later in May 2005. The record's title-track single drew heavy criticism for containing right-wing nationalist ideas. Fler and Aggro Berlin label execs became the center of a national scandal relating to rap lyrics and nationalist/neo-Nazi ideologies. Repeatedly refuting claims that he supported right-wing radical agendas, Fler's debut record made Billboard's European Top 100 nevertheless. A year later, his sophomore effort, Trendsetter, repeated that success and he shifted his lyrical focus from ideas of national identity to more benign gangster themes. The single "Çüs Junge" even explored the beauty of Turkish/German women, a move no doubt to put distance between the artist and his neo-Nazi reputation. The 2007 "mixtape" release Airmax Muzik was followed by an international tour featuring Fler and several of his labelmates. At the end of that year, after an appearance on MTV, Fler narrowly escaped injury when three masked men attempted to stab him on his way out of the studio. His bodyguard fended them off, and they fled. Fler denounced the attack as "a cowardly action which had nothing to do with rap." The experience certainly didn't put him off the music business: a slew of albums, collaborations, mixtapes, and compilation appearances followed in the next five years, making him one of the most prolific artists in the German hip-hop scene, and one of the most popular, with each studio album more successful than the last. After appearing to flirt with nationalist ideology again on 2008's Fremd im Eigenen Land ("Strangers in Their Own Country"), he switched tack to a more personal tone on 2009's eponymous effort, reflecting on his early life and his time in a psychiatric unit. After that he switched labels from Aggro Berlin to Ersguterjunge for one album -- the punningly titled Flersguterjunge -- before starting his own label, Maskulin, in 2011. He released not one but two albums that year, Airmax Musik II and Im Bus Ganz Hinten ("Right at the Back of the Bus"), and swiftly followed up with his eighth album, Hinter Blauen Augen ("Behind Blue Eyes"), in 2012. Despite being criticized by some fans for sounding too American, it gave him his highest chart placement to date. The next three years were busy ones on the recording front. He released no less than five albums, beginning with his ninth album, 2013's Blaues Blut ("Blue Blood"), again on his Maskulin label. A follow-up to his debut, Neue Deutsche Welle, Vol. 2, appeared one year later, and just missed the top of the charts. His number one breakthrough arrived in 2015, when Keiner Kommt Klar Mit Mir ("Nobody Comes Clear with Me") topped the charts in Germany (and also reached Top Ten in Austria and Switzerland). He released a Frank White album later that year, and watched as Weil die Straße Nicht Vergisst ("Because the Road Does Not Forget") hit number two. Vibe, released in 2016, not only topped the chart in Germany but also in Austria and Switzerland. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez

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