A German-Jewish leader condemned a music award given to two popular rappers as a “devastating” example of the normalcy of anti-Semitism in today’s society.
Kollegah and Bang won the top Echo Music Award in the hip-hop category for an album whose lyrics boast of physiques “more defined that those of Auschwitz inmates” and call for “another Holocaust; let’s grab the Molotov” cocktails.
Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Jewish community of Munich and Bavaria, was one of numerous public figures in Germany who criticised the award. The ceremony took place in Berlin on 12 April, which also was the annual Holocaust and Ghetto Uprising Remembrance Day.
The album, whose title in English is “Young, Brutal, Good Looking 3,” won the best of Hip-Hop/Urban, National award.
Knobloch in a statement blasted the jury for promoting lyrics that evidence anti-Semitism and a lack of understanding of history. “Anti-Jewish prejudices are not art,” she said, noting that the two rappers “reach millions of people, most of them young.”
In fact, the award was delivered with a verbal slap, which brought audience members to their feet.
Taking the stage before the presentation, another German pop star, Campino, of the punk rock band Die Toten Hosen (Dead Pants), said he likes provocation as much as the next guy. But “for me personally, misogynistic, homophobic, right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic insults cross the line” of acceptability. The audience gave Campino a standing ovation.
Organisers of the Echo Awards had cited “freedom of artistic expression” in defense of their decision to nominate the two. But they had been advised against the nomination, including by the Catholic Church delegates to the Echo Awards ethics board.
When Focus magazine asked the artists how they viewed the criticism, they responded by joking about their failure to work out before the ceremony.
In a televised commentary, Udo Grätz, deputy editor in chief of the WDR public broadcasting company, said he “couldn’t care less what a rapper like Kollegah thinks about Jews. But if hundreds of thousands of young people find his music cool, despite – or because of – the fact that it promotes anti-Semitic cliches, then I do have a problem.”