German cool: Rapper receives the Goethe prize

German cool: Rapper receives the Goethe prize


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2017

The rapper Moses Pelham was awarded yesterday the Goetheplakette of the city of Frankfurt.

Pehahm, 46, is famed for such lines as: ‘Rödelheimer Land- /Ecke Kleemannstraße, ist, wo der Shit hier begann’ – which is comprehensible to anyone with more than 20 words of German.

Previous winners of the Goetheplakette include Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, who was certifiably incomprehensible in any language, and Marcel Reich-Ranicki, the great literary critic.

Der Shit, it seems, may have just begann.


  • John Borstlap says:

    The video is entirely ‘unerträglich’ especially in German.

    The tragedy of the Germans of today is that so many of them in cultural positions are under the impression that if they imitate the most characteristic expressions of ‘the West’ – i.e. of Anglo-American culture – they will be seen as fully democratic, modern, progressive and thus morally on the right side of history, because in the notion of ‘the past’ the monstrous shadow of Herr Hitler is the first thing that comes-up, creating a barrier to their best culture which is behind that shadow and thus, located in earlier times. So, two truly crazy misunderstandings: 1) the best characteristic of Western culture is its ‘truly democratic’ cultural phenomenon of black rap, and 2) the best of German culture – of which the Goethe Prize should be the symbol – is so far away in the past that it has become meaningless. It is suicidal and plain ridiculous, exposing both extreme lack of cultural awareness and self-hatred. It is as if the nazi destruction of cultural identity finally won.

    “Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, who was certifiably incomprehensible in any language”…. a hilarious but true description. I tried to read his stuff, but it is like entering a labyrinth of neurosis and frustration, which tries to infect the reader. Also Goethe would have forcefully disapproved of Adorno, I’m sure, as much as of this German rapper.

    • Ungeheuer says:


    • Curry my Yoghurt says:

      This is precisely why Pop does not work at all sung in German! English is the language of Pop. German is the language for Tannhauser, Lohengrin et al.

      When I hear German Pop it makes me laugh.

      • Nik says:

        British English doesn’t work as a pop language either. That’s why 99% of British pop singers adopt an Americanised accent (with a few notable exceptions). British English is the language of cowpat music.

        • Geezer Butler says:

          Blur and Oasis sing with a Brit accent, you are wrong 100%. Don’t forget Ian Dury and the Blockheads and The Macc Lads.

          • Reed says:

            He did mentioned “with a few notable exceptions.

          • Nik says:

            Yes, those were the exceptions I was thinking of, alongside Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
            Oh, and the Proclaimers. But ‘shouting in Scottish’ is another genre altogether.

    • Dennis says:

      That first paragraph is spot on. So sad to see German musical and literary culture in such decline.

  • John Borstlap says:

    “Mit der Goethe-Plakette sollen “Dichter, Schriftsteller, Künstler und Wissenschaftler und andere Persönlichkeiten des kulturellen Lebens” ausgezeichnet werden, “die durch ihr schöpferisches Wirken einer dem Andenken Goethes gewidmeten Ehrung würdig sind”, wie es in den nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg neu aufgelegten Statuten heißt.”

    Thus a local Frankfort newspaper. Translated: “With the Goethe-Plaque, poets, writers, artists and scientists should be selected who are worthy to be honored by the memory of Goethe – as has been newly formulated after WW II.”

    The tone of the article is unscrupulously optimistic, you feel in the background the relief of being liberated from the weight of awareness who Goethe was, what he has done, what he meant for both German and European culture, and what it means to be presented on a par with Thomas Mann and Marcel Reich-Ranicki. Goethe had lived through the upheavals of the napoleonic wars as minister of the Duke of Weimar, and witnessed enough of the world’s messiness to be surprised, but if he had known about what would have been honored in his name in the future, his head would explode.

  • Antennae Simmons says:

    The “Germans of today …in cultural positions” are part of cultural Marxism promoted by A. Merkill and her minions and puppet-masters. C.M. has its roots in the Frankfurter Schule (Adorno) and critical theory, and broadly speaking enforces social engineering in the same way the scientists at Monsanto genetically manipulate biological organisms, but is arguably much more insidious.

    With the fall of Eastern bloc communism, the phony class struggle between the proletariat and the capitalists could no longer be maintained and had to be replaced by the struggle of the oppressed black races or Muslims against the “white supremacists”.

    Black “gangsta” rap music, by the way, was invented in order to populate privately run prisons in the US.

    • John Borstlap says:

      No serious person believes any longer in cultural marxism, apart from some pockets of resistance against reality and common sense, and in academic circles where deconstruction and Michel Fuckhaule are still preached. I believe that the Goethe Plaque blunder is the result of well-meaning attempts to integrate ‘minorities’ and to prevent ‘youth’ from falling through the social nets, entirely unaware how ridiculous this gesture is, and in a certain way also quite patronizing: you are a stupid lowlife phenomenon but look how civilized we are to grant you this cultural honor.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Cultural terrorism. No longer shocking, just boring.

  • harold braun says:

    What a dreck.

  • Finley Norton says:

    Didn’t listen to this work of art, but it is not genuine rap unless it contains at least 15 instances of the word “n**ga” and 10 of “muthaf****”

  • Steven Holloway says:

    I rather suspect that I understand Adorno. If I did not, goes my reasoning, I wouldn’t be able to disagree with almost every word he wrote. However, I must confess that if I expressed this syllogistically, it might not hold, but nor do I consider it an unreasonable position to take. I am sorry NL can’t comprehend him, especially as that must by definition mean he is also at sea when it comes to Walter Benjamin. If you know not why, you know not Benjamin, and thus know not Adorno to start with.

    • Steve P says:

      “Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play” by Ben Watson is about as close as I’ve come to reading Adorno. Loved it for all its wackiness.

  • David Boxwell says:

    If you can’t make it in the Five Boroughs, there is always the mean streets of Frankfurt.

  • M2N2K says:

    After Bob Dylan won Nobel for literature, nothing surprises me anymore.