Clueso was the first rap star to emerge from central Germany, disproving the theory that the nation's western region is the sole breeding ground for successful hip-hop MCs and DJs. Born Thomas Hübner in Erfurt on April 9, 1980, Clueso originally studied to become a hairdresser but at 15 abandoned hair for hip-hop, making his recorded debut that same year on the compilation Erfurt Projekt 1996. Drawing his alias from Peter Sellers' famed The Pink Panther character Inspector Clouseau, he signed with manager Andreas Welskop in 1998 and soon after issued his first Clueso solo release, the BMG-issued Clüso EP. Upon signing to the Four Music imprint, Clueso issued his first full-length release, Text und Ton, in 2001.
A brief relocation to the Köln area followed, although he returned to Erfurt to begin work on his sophomore effort, 2004's Gute Musik, which featured a shift away from rap toward more conventional vocal-and-reggae-inspired rhythms. In 2005, Clueso represented his native Thuringia region in the annual Bundesvision Song Contest with the track "Kein Bock zu Geh'n," and his third LP, Weit Weg, hit retail a year later. It took its influence from an even wider palette of styles and genres including jazz, funk, and rock. 2008's So Sehr Dabei went even further, with Clueso's music evolving into a kind of electric singer/songwriter pop, performed with a full live band.
Also in 2008, Clueso represented Thuringia in Bundesvision again; this time, he came second. Two years later, he released a symphonic live album, Clueso & STÜBA Philharmonie, and his first book, Clueso: Von und Über, a collection of photos, lyrics, anecdotes, and stories. 2011 saw the release of his fifth album, An und Für Sich, on which he changed his style yet again to incorporate many electronic elements. That same year he beat German pop legend Herbert Grönemeyer for the title of best artist at the prestigious 1Live Radio awards. Clueso's sixth album, Stadtrandlichter, appeared in September of 2014, and became his first to debut at number one; he again won best artist at 1Live, and the album eventually reached gold status.
No stranger to stylistic detours, Clueso made a big decision to part ways with his recording and touring band after almost 15 years, and subsequently produced and released an acoustic album. Despite the change in direction, Neuanfang hit number one in Germany upon its release in October 2016. ~ Jason Ankeny & John D. Buchanan