Germany’s main music awards to be abolished over win for ‘anti-Semitic’ rap album

The Echo Music Awards are to be completely abolished after a controversial and allegedly anti-Semitic rap album won in its category earlier this month.

Germany’s main music awards to be abolished over win for ‘anti-Semitic’ rap album
Kollegah and Farid Bang. Photo: DPA

The announcement was made by the Music Industry Association on Wednesday. It came in response to the rap album prize being handed this month to rap duo Kollegah and Farid Bang, who in their song “0815” say their bodies are “more defined than an Auschwitz prisoner”.

“The Echo brand is so badly damaged that a complete new beginning is necessary,” said Germany's Music Industry Association, adding that the “Echo will be no more.”

The association said it wanted to have nothing to do with music that promotes with anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia and the belittling of violence, pledging that such a mistake would not be repeated in the future.

Steps will now be taken to ensure that a jury is more prominent in picking the pop prize for the award.

After the duo won the award several musicians decided to hand back their prizes.

The most high profile artist to do so was Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, who said in a statement on Tuesday that the rappers' lyrics are “clearly anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic and contemptuous of human dignity”.

They constituted an “abuse” of free expression which society must “never tolerate”, wrote the Jewish general music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

Barenboim said he, the Staatskapelle Berlin and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra had jointly decided to return the award because “decency and humanity” must outweigh “commercial interests”.

The Echo award's organisers noted that while the “events surrounding this year's awards… cannot be reversed, we want to ensure that such a mistake does not repeat itself”.

Germany has been shocked by several recent anti-Semitic incidents, including an assault by a Syrian refugee on two men wearing Jewish kippa skullcaps in Berlin.

On Wednesday, Germans staged shows of solidarity with Jews after the incidents that raised pointed questions about Berlin's ability to protect its burgeoning Jewish community seven decades after the Holocaust.

SEE ALSO: Video of alleged anti-Semitic attack in central Berlin sparks outrage

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Dancing like there’s no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig

For techno enthusiast Philipp Koegler, it almost felt like a normal Saturday night again as he joined 200 fellow revellers at "Distillery", the first German nightclub to reopen since the start of the pandemic.

Dancing like there's no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig
A file photo of a disco ball in a night club. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Britta Pedersen

“Tonight, there are no rules,” the almost 30-year-old told AFP, whipping off his mask on his way to the dance floor.

Despite more than a year of closures forced by the coronavirus, it didn’t take long for the thumping beats, low lights and buzzing crowds to reawaken the much-missed club atmosphere.

“It feels like I’ve come back after being away on vacation for a week,” Koegler beamed.

But of course there are some rules to restarting the party, even in Germany where coronavirus infections have declined steadily in recent weeks as the pace of vaccinations has picked up.

The Distillery club in the eastern city of Leipzig, which bills itself as the oldest techno venue in Germany’s former Communist east, is taking part in a pilot project supported by scientists from the Max Planck institute and the local university hospital.

Just 200 club-goers are allowed in instead of the usual 600 and each person must take two different kinds of coronavirus tests earlier in the day, with entry granted only if they test negative both times.

Once inside, the masks can come off and revellers don’t have to socially distance.

Each participant also agrees to being re-tested a week later, to uncover potential infections despite the precautions taken.


Organisers hope the project can serve as a blueprint for further club re-openings to help the hard-hit sector back on its feet after a devastating year.

Although several venues in Germany experimented with open-air parties, club-goer Konny said it “just isn’t the same”.

“In the club, you’re in a different world,” she said.

Growing influence

Distillery manager Steffen Kache expressed pride at being the first club in the country to reopen indoors.

“Everyone is jealous,” he told AFP.

Kache said that if there has been an upside to the pandemic closures, it was that politicians had woken up to the social and economic importance of Germany’s vibrant club culture.

Lawmakers last month agreed to reclassify nightclubs as cultural institutions rather than entertainment venues, putting them on a par with
theatres and museums to provide more protection and tax benefits.

Germany’s nightlife capital Berlin alone – home to iconic clubs Berghain, KitKat and Tresor – usually attracts tens of thousands of foreign visitors each year who generate over a billion euros in revenues.   

Many observers fear that when the pandemic dust has settled, not all of Germany’s clubs will have survived the lengthy shutdowns.

The collaboration with local authorities that made Distillery’s pilot project possible was “unthinkable before the crisis”, Kache said, and evidence of a “reconciliation” between underground club culture and the political establishment.

He said he hoped the next step would be “the nationwide reopening of cultural spots and clubs, without Covid restrictions”.