Music Industry Under Attack After German Rap Duo Wins Awards With References To Holocaust
The German music industry is doing some rigorous self-examination after public outcry over the Echo Awards. The Echo Awards are the German equivalent of America’s Grammy Awards. Kollegah and Farid Bang, two German rappers, won an award for their latest album named Young Brutal, Good Looking 3. The controversy is over numerous derogatory references to the Holocaust in the album’s lyrics.
One song has the pair singing about “bodies much more defined than the prisoners in Auschwitz.” In another song they pledge to “make another Holocaust, coming in with the Molotov explosive cocktail.” Given German history and the harsh penalties on speech for discussing the Holocaust, it is surprising the lyrics were even allowed.
Campino, lead singer of Germany’s venerable rock band Die Toten Hosen, objected to the duo being given the award from the stage during the award night itself. He said that although he considers provocation to be good, there should be a differentiation between art as a stylistic device and as a thing which only functions to ostracize or destroy others. Joining the condemnation was Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister. He said that awards should not be given to anti-Semitic provocations, describing such crafted pieces as “disgusting.”
The two rap artists in the center of the storm have apologized for any pain they caused. Bang, in his social media post, said that it is impossible to forget the past. He had also written that something positive will hopefully emerge from this debate. An apology was also submitted to Esther Bejarano, a Holocaust survivor, who had expressed outrage at the lyrics.
The German recording industry has criticized the rapper duo’s lyrics but it also defended the choice by invoking artistic freedom. The music recording association has promised to re-examine the Echo nomination process. The Echo Award winners are currently decided less on artistic quality than music chart rankings and popularity.
The timing of the award added to the outrage. Because of the rise in Anti-Semitism, particularly among young generations, there is a fear of hatred being stoked. Nazi Germany is becoming so far removed from the younger population that some fear that there could be a chance that many of the virulent sentiments against Jews that were part of the regime could become more commonplace. However, there has not been any proof of causation between the rapper’s album and any Anti-Semitic groups, nor hate crimes.