How a Controversial Rap Duo gained Germany's correct tune Prize, Sparking a country wide Debate Over Anti-Semitism in Hip-Hop Skip to main content

How a Controversial Rap Duo gained Germany's correct tune Prize, Sparking a country wide Debate Over Anti-Semitism in Hip-Hop

a person standing on a stage posing for the camera 
© Andreas Rentz/Getty images
and also you idea this years Grammy Awards have been controversial?
The ECHO Deutscher Muskikpreis, the German equivalent of the Grammys, made headlines worldwide this week after the award for greatest hip-hop/city album went to rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, who confronted criticism and allegations of anti-Semitism over a lyric about Auschwitz. Even German Justice Minister Heiko Maas weighed in, telling Der Spiegel that "Antisemitic provocations do not deserve a prize; they are repugnant."
to this point, the German recording enterprise affiliation that runs the ECHO awards has apologized. And BMG, which distributes the album, has stated it is going to not work with the duo -- nor, Billboard has realized, unlock a field set of the venture due in June. The company also made a €one hundred,000 donation to fight anti-Semitism in German faculties. 
As a entrance-web page The ny times story makes clear, Kollegah and Farid Bang's ECHO win comes at a time of rising difficulty about anti-Semitism in Germany, specially among the nation's becoming number of immigrants. The intensity of the outcry towards the rappers win may ultimately say less about their song than about widespread be troubled over the erosion of one of postwar Germany's core values. 
just like the Grammys previous this year, the ECHO awards are being blamed for a decision -- and the perceived politics behind it -- that has less to do with the corporation that runs the ceremony than the method used to pick the winners. In most classes, together with most fulfilling hip-hop/urban album, ECHO nominees immediately encompass the five top-quality-selling albums in a given genre. A jury of about 50 critics and former honorees then votes to choose a winner. in this case, they picked Kollegah and Farid Bang's Jung Brutal Gutaussehend three [Young, brutal, and good-looking]. The lyric that brought about probably the most controversy -- "My physique is more described than those of Auschwitz inmates" -- is only on a deluxe edition of the duo's album and the song was not performed at the ECHO ceremony.
despite the fact the ECHO organizers don't play any function in choosing who wins, they now plan to trade the nomination procedure. "We renowned responsibility and we said in an announcement that we stood up for cultural freedom in the incorrect area," Florian Drücke, chief govt of the BVMI, the German recording enterprise corporation that runs the ECHO awards, tells Billboard. "we are able to reform the ECHO completely."
BMG, which allotted Jung Brutal Gutaussehend three, has also come beneath fireplace. at first, the business appeared to stand through the rappers, issuing an announcement that "we take artists and creative freedom severely," while condemning anti-Semitism and making the donation to fight it. within the ultimate a number of days, although, the business decided now not to unencumber the container set of the album, despite the fact that it had the rights to do so. The rights will possibly revert to the rappers themselves.
BMG is a division of the German media huge Bertelsmann -- it additionally owns Random house and the television enterprise RTL -- which is delicate about these issues, for the reason that it made funds all over World struggle II by way of printing Nazi propaganda and has seeing that made wide and greatly acclaimed efforts to contend with its previous. In a press release to the German Press company, the company talked about that "Bertelsmann distances himself from any kind of Anti-Semitism and discrimination."
Given the corporate tradition at Bertelsmann, it be competitively priced to wonder whether exact executives at BMG even heard the controversial lyrics, mainly seeing that they had been on the second disc of a field set that wouldn't be attainable on streaming capabilities. "any one who knows Hartwig [Masuch, BMG CEO] is aware of he wouldn't approve of this," a German track business source advised Billboard.
This is rarely the primary time the ECHO corporation has had problems with nominees' politics. Years ago, after a nomination for ideal countrywide rock/alternative community went to the band Frei.Wild, which is perceived via some to advocate severe right-wing views, the ECHO awards corporation installation an independent community that might eliminate acts from consideration that were racist or anti-Semitic. After some discussion, although, that neighborhood permitted Kollegah and Farid Bang's album for award consideration.
"We noticed the want for an unbiased physique to consider the boundaries of freedom of expression so we created one, with people from a lot of cultural associations," says Drücke. "When Kollegah and Farid Bang were nominated, we called the committee, the majority choice become to leave them in, and we respected this determination." That a part of the technique will presumably alternate.
Some song executives believed that Kollegah and Farid Bang would apologize for some of their lyrics at the ECHO ceremony, for the reason that Farid Bang apologized to the Auschwitz survivor Esther Bejarano on fb previous in the month. The rappers have mentioned they aren't anti-Semitic and have invited Jewish americans to attend their concerts for free of charge. (A consultant for the duo did not reply to a request for comment.) 
earlier than Kollegah and Farid Bang went onstage, although, they had been condemned in an acceptance speech via Campino, the singer for the German punk band Die Toten Hosen. "It crosses the line of acceptability when lyrics consist of misogynistic, homophobic, appropriate-wing extremist and anti-Semitic insults," said Campino, who declined to accept the award he won. Coming from the enduring singer of a veteran punk band typical for its political sense of right and wrong, this message bought a standing ovation. however it also may additionally have made Kollegah and Farid Bang agree with they had to stand up for themselves in opposition t the track company institution. "I don't are looking to make a political debate out of it right here," Kollegah stated. 
the debate that has taken location has been frustratingly inconclusive. Kollegah and Farid Bang's line about Auschwitz is offensive to any least expensive person, even with the aid of the specifications of hip-hop. but within the context of the group's lyrics -- which generally include put-downs of rival rappers -- it be clear that it be now not meant as an assault on Jews so lots as on decent taste itself. one of the crucial subsequent traces is a fats comic story about a further rapper.
however this controversy isn't nearly one line. The album also includes one more troubling lyric -- "i'm doing an additional Holocaust, coming with a Molotov" -- and Kollegah's video for the song "Apokalypse" [Apocalypse] contains a sinister depiction of a person with a star of David ring. (That tune is on one other album, which became no longer launched through BMG.) that is tougher to fit right into a headline, but additionally arguably more severe.
a brand new documentary, The dark aspect of German Rap, covers a troubling vogue of anti-Semitism inside the style. Complicating concerns, many hip-hop artists have roots in middle japanese international locations the place negative stereotypes of Jews are usual. German politicians concerned about anti-Semitism can find a handy scapegoat in rappers, but criticizing them is rarely likely to solve what appears to be becoming a major difficulty.
SpongeBOZZ, a Jewish rapper from Germany along with his own over-the-suitable lyrics, advised the German Press company that Kollegah and Farid Bang's line about Auschwitz became "tasteless -- however no longer anti-Semitic." in its place, he stated, "I see an anti-Semitism issue in our society."


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