The internet can take you down very strange rabbit holes, but sometimes those rabbit holes remind you of good times past. Such was the case recently as I perused Facebook looking to see what shenanigans the people I follow were up to. Somebody posted the music video for “Bist du down?” a 2017 single with a ’90s-era R&B/hip-hop feel by German (well, Ghanaian-German) rapper Ace Tee.
The video and song could have come right out of 1994. Like, hear and picture Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down” and this could be mixed right in after it in a ’90s DJ set. Hell, “bist du down?” translates to “are you down?” Point is, today, I know who Ace Tee is, and I thank her because she sent me down a German rap rabbit hole that reminded me that when I was younger, one of my babysitters was Schwester S aka Sabrina Setlur, one of the Germany’s biggest rap stars. Ever.
As you may or may not know, I’m a military brat who grew up in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. We lived in Bad Homburg, a suburb of Frankfurt, literally at the last stop on the U2 line of the Frankfurt U-bahn (one of Germany’s versions of the subway), Bad Homburg-Gonzenheim. Many of the military families lived in one of the many American apartment communities provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) in whatever city we were stationed. But some of our parents rented houses “on the economy,” which basically means you lived out in the German community. We lived at 6380 Am Alten Bach. I still have my keys.
While we were there, my father, of course, was in the military and stationed at the Abrams Complex. My sisters and I all went to the DoD schools (Atterbery or Frankurt American Elementary School, Frankfurt American Middle School and Frankfurt American High School). My mother worked at a bank, which at the time was called Merchant’s Bank and had branches on military installations. Despite being on base, at times there were non-American and non-military individuals working in the banks. And this is where my mother met Kris Setlur while working at the branch in U.S. Army’s 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt.
One of Kris’ daughters, Sabrina, would sometimes babysit me and my younger sisters (presumably when my older sister had something else to do). Look, I was probably between 9 and 11 years old when I can remember her babysitting, but I’m pretty sure I was in love even at that point. Her younger sister, Yvonne, was the same age (I believe) as one of my sisters and so we were all homies in youthful shenanigans.
Sabrina, though, was the homie. I remember her being so nice and fun to be around. I also remember her always being in some sort of trouble for doing this or that; typical teenager stuff. My last vivid memory of her includes our families being out to dinner somewhere and one of her friends coming to pick her up and her bailing on dinner and using me to be a distraction. I was like 12 and had no idea what I was doing. But when the love of your life tells you to do something, you do it. I remember her parents being plenty pissed the rest of that night. Oh, the joys of youthful rebellion. Obviously, I had no idea she was shortly going to become Germany’s next big thing or I’d have gotten an autograph back then.
In 1993, my family left Germany and moved to Madison, Ala., while my father was stationed about two and a half hours away at Ft. Campbell, Ky. I don’t know whether my parents and Sabrina’s family kept in touch, but at some point, I’m assuming my mom or dad told me Sabrina had become a rapper, going by the moniker Schwester S. Now this is like 1995, so we’re talking pre-Al Gore’s internet, so there was no googling or finding any information. And like all things that you can’t find on the internet, her rap career ceased to exist in my consciousness for years until one day one of my sisters hit me up to ask if I remembered Sabrina and that she was a huge star in Germany.
I googled her and sure as shootin’, there she was, one of Germany’s biggest female rap stars (if not the biggest), winning all types of awards, and even had a No. 1 single with her song, “Du Liebst Mich Nicht,” in 1997. She hit the tabloids for a time because she was dating Boris Becker, which I can only imagine is frustrating as hell to be an artist whose news clips are about the man she was dating. She had enough hits to have her own separate “Sabrina Setlur discography” page on Wikipedia.
So what’s the point of it all? I’m not sure. I went down a rabbit hole and it reminded me of an interesting little trivia tidbit about my own life. I mean, how many people can say that an international superstar singer, songwriter, and performer was part of their formative years? Even though I have neither seen nor spoken to her family in more than 25 years, on this day, it was a funny reminder of just how interesting life can be for any one of us.
Now if I can just recall how Beyoncé somehow impacted my life, I’ll be solid.