Jewish groups, business leaders, and German punk singers don’t usually find a whole lot of common ground. At last week’s Echo Awards, Germany’s version of the Grammys, an award brought them all together.
Kollegah and Bang, German rappers who recently released their third collaborative album (Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3—Young, Brutal, and Good Looking 3), won in the Hip-Hop/Urban, National category. Since the album was released back in December, they duo have been under fire for lyrics that boast that their physiques are “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners,” and others where they resolve to inflict “another Holocaust” on their haters. Rest assured, it sounds even stupider in German.
Jewish leaders from across the country have come out to denounce the song. “Anti-Jewish prejudices are not art,” said Charlotte Knobloch, leader of the Jewish community of Munich and Bavaria. Oliver Polak, a popular Jewish comedian, said that lyrics like that of Kollegah and Bang “are the reason that young Jewish people are chased around and beaten up in schoolyards.”
Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus, also weighed in. “That hurts Germany’s international reputation. Is antisemitism becoming acceptable in Germany?,” he asked.
The awards show itself was not without controversey, either. According to JTA:
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.
The BVMI German music industry association, which conducts the Echo Awards, initially defended the decision, citing their desire to award commercial, not artistic success (the album topped the charts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). However, they later recanted, and have announced that they will re-work the nomination and award selection processes.
Anyway, in case you’d like to judge for yourselves, here is the really terrible song, “0815”:
Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.