Throughout history, the music industry has been dominated by individuals who have created larger-than-life personas to make their mark in the world with some groundbreaking tunes. Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan, Farrokh Bulsara became Freddie Mercury, and Marshall Mathers became Eminem. You can now add Kevin Rehman, also known as Faustbatal, to that long and distinguished list.
The Swiss songwriter and rapper with Albanian roots is fast earning a name for himself as one to watch. Since 2018, he has consistently been one of the most-streamed rappers in Switzerland, and his songs ‘Scheinen’ and ‘Enemies’ have won over both critics and the wider public. The video for ‘Enemies,’ which features famous Albanian and Northern Macedonian artist S4MM has hit over a million views and counting. It would appear that the sky’s the limit for this 28-year-old whose love for music is hardwired into his very DNA.
“Music has always been a constant in my life,” explains Faustbatal. “It’s been an inspiration when times were tough and a guiding light in the darkness. It’s what defines me as a person.”
Growing up in a working-class family in Basel’s Gundeldingen district, Faustbatal remembers falling in love with hip-hop from a young age.
The rapper explained, “I remember being in awe of acts like N.W.A, Mobb Deep, and Biggie Smalls. It wasn’t just their beats and rhymes that I found inspiring; it was their attitude, their individuality, their look, the whole package. These guys were the real deal, and they walked like they talked. They were fresh, and they had flavor, and watching the way they lived life on their own terms without compromise or apology had a huge influence on me. After seeing the way those guys rapped, I pretty much knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
The hip-hop ethos had Faustbatal in its grip and began to dictate and shape his life. After his ninth school year, instead of looking for a job, Faustbatal set up an independent business that supplied medical cannabis. At the same time, the 16-year-old began to record his first few songs. Gradually, he earned a reputation for himself in the Basel hip-hop scene by appearing on songs with established names such as German rapper Eko Fresh.
Alongside his music career, Faustbatal went on to open Switzerland’s first medical cannabis shop and founded the first cannabis delivery service.
Faustbatal said, “The cannabis business enabled me to pour more of my time and finance into my first love – music. The industry is constantly evolving at the moment, and it’s tougher than ever for new acts to break through into the mainstream. Yet, having said that, there does seem to be a rising trend right now that looks set to continue for the rest of 2020 and beyond, and that’s the resurgence of indie labels. The major labels are losing their monopoly. That’s good news for new acts because indie labels tend to be more prone to taking a gamble on raw talent. Traditionally, they also put more power in the hands of the artists.”
Faustbatal added, “Although the industry and the way we listen to music has changed considerably since I was growing up, a good song will always eventually find its listeners. So perfect your craft, be the best you can be, and the rest will fall into place.”