Controversy as ‘anti-Semitic’ rappers win Germany’s top music award
The awarding of the most prestigious prize in German pop music to two rappers who made fun of Holocaust victims has been described by an influential Jewish organization as "a scandal."
At the annual Echo Awards on Thursday evening the rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang were awarded the best album award for their recent release “Jung, brutal und gutaussehend 3”.
For weeks, the fact that the two rappers had been nominated for the award had caused controversy in the German press due to their alleged anti-Semitism.
On the album, Farid Bang raps about his training regime, boasting that “my body is more defined than an Auschwitz prisoner’s.”
Kollegah has previously been accused of anti-Semitism due to a 2016 music video which appears to show a Jewish man at the head of a secretive global banking conspiracy.
Earlier in the evening the singer Campino - frontman of die Toten Hosen - used his acceptance speech for the rock award to criticize the two rappers.
Campino, one of Germany’s most famous musicians, was visibly nervous when giving his speech. He started by saying that provocation in music is generally an important and good thing. But he went on to say that tolerance stops “when people make insults that are misogynistic, homophobic, right-wing extremist, or anti-Semitic.”
His speech was met by a standing ovation from the crowd.
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When Kollegah and Farid Bang received their award later in the evening segments of the crowd booed while some people walked out of the theatre.
Rather than directly addressing the controversy of their lyrics, the rappers took the opportunity to mock Campino's nervous speech.
Kollegah imitated the rock singer’s trembling hand as he spoke, before revealing that he had drawn a picture of the Campino with a halo over his head. He claimed he would auction it for a good cause.
The decision by the Echo judges was met with immediate criticism from the Jewish community.
“Disgraceful! Today in Israel and worldwide people are remembering the Holocaust on Yom Hashoah,” the American Jewish Committee tweeted from its Berlin office. “At the Echo 2018 two rappers have been nominated for a prize who have made fun of Auschwitz victims and spread anti-Semitism.”
Schändlich! Heute wird in Israel und weltweit #YomHashoah begangen, der Tag des Gedenkens an Holocaust und Heldentum. Beim #ECHO2018 sind heute zwei Rapper für einen Preis nominiert, die sich u.a. über Auschwitz-Häftlinge hermachen und z.T. #Antisemitismus verbreiten.— AJC Berlin (@AJCBerlin) April 12, 2018