Germany’s top award goes to Holocaust-joke rappers

Germany’s top award goes to Holocaust-joke rappers


norman lebrecht

April 15, 2018

The Echo award has been given to the rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang whose songs make pejorative reference to Jews and routinely refer to women as ‘the whores’.

A campaign is flaring up to have the award revoked.

More here.

Their song “0815” contains the line ‘My body is better defined than Auschwitz inmates’. (Mein Körper definierter als von Auschwitzinsassen)

The award was made on 12th April, International Holocaust Day of Remembrance in Israel.


  • Pianofortissimo says:

    I’ll resist the temptation to joke about their names – I would be surely accused of “racism” no matter how funny it would be – but their real antisemitism gave them a prize. Sad times.

    • John Borstlap says:

      In Germany, any initiative to restrict public expression stokes fears of not only being ‘conservative’ but being ‘fascist’, ironically. So, having disgusting ‘rap’ by obvious thugs in their midst, gives the reassuring feeling that they are as westernized and progressive as America.

      • Holyfield Worthington says:

        This is Exactly nail-on-the-head correct.

      • Gerhard says:

        Nonsense. This prize is simply a recognition of who made the most money in any given category. No evaluation of any artistic or social merit is part of the consideration. With these two guys there was a debate for the first time whether this ought not to be changed if some prizewinner is rewarded for something obviously toxic. But the decision was to stick to the normal practice. Nobody outside the commitee had any saying in this matter. And in some way, their decision was quite consistent. It is a celebration of modern capitalism: the prize goes where the most money has gone before. It would only raise illusions if morals would begin to play a role in it.

        • Holyfield Worthington says:

          one stands corrected

          • David R Osborne says:

            And this just in. Kendrick Lamar has been awarded the 2018 Pulitzer prize for music. What fun!

        • John Borstlap says:

          That this is a normal celebration of capitalism does not make it normal and acceptable. This is an entirely nonsensical comment, ignoring the content of the subject.

          • Gerhard says:

            What is really nonsensical in my opinion is your inability to understand what other people write, particularly if it comprises bitter irony, and your obsession to post more comments than anyone else. And what I meant with “nonsense” in my first comment was your senseless generalization what “they” in Germany feel and do.

          • John Borstlap says:

            To Mr Gerhard:

            Countries have a social, political and cultural climate. In that sense, Germany is an interesting and complex country and its cultural scene a snake pit of contradictions, but of course that is more difficult to see when one is in the middle of it.

            If people are greatly irritated by informed, argued comments about classical music on this site, they can visit other, more welcoming sites, or buy special glasses which filter-out factual and intelligent material, available at the Borstlap Stand at Sainsbury’s in London (single glasses for the day for only BP 65.–, dark glasses for summer time for BP 85.– and sleeping pads for only BP 30.–).

   (second floor, on the right)

          • Pianofortissimo says:

            If Stockhausen sold sunglasses and t-shirts, why not John B?

    • Alex Davies says:

      Well, Kollegah is actually named Felix Martin Andreas Matthias Blume. He is half German and half Canadian. He converted to Islam shortly after his mother married an Algerian. So he is very much a white man, as far as I understand it.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The name ‘Blume’ is so far removed from the cultural identity of his ‘art form’ that his entire career can be considered as an attempt to suppress an initial identity.

    • Olassus says:

      German Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer (March 2018):

      “Der Islam gehört nicht zu Deutschland.”

      “Die bei uns lebenden Muslime gehören aber selbstverständlich zu Deutschland,” fügte Seehofer hinzu. Dies bedeute jedoch nicht, “dass wir deswegen aus falscher Rücksichtnahme unsere landestypischen Traditionen und Gebräuche aufgeben.”

      • John Borstlap says:

        So confused thinking…… Christianity does not ‘belong to’ the modern West either; modern society has developed from Christianity and many of its values have gone into modern values (like human rights and the dignity of the individual), but the West is constructed on the values of the Enlightenment. Under that umbrella any religion can find a place.

        Modern Europe is a secular state run on the rule of law and human rights and freedom to live your private life as you want, within the law. Culture and religion belong to the private sphere. Where private religion or culture clash with the overall framework, it has to adapt. Which simply means that it is irrelevant whether someone is a catholic, a lutheran, a jew, a muslim, a bhuddist, an atheist, or even an artist. They all have the same rights and freedoms and have to live within the limitations of the law which protects these rights and freedoms.

        • Olassus says:

          That is the theory, anyway. Only we are seeing it collapse — in discrimination, in bitterness and resentment, in no-go zones, in mini-societies with different rules, in assertiveness, in intimidation, in grooming and gang rape, in attacks on Jews, in Holocaust denial (and now Holocaust mockery in this Echo Award story), and of course in knifings and explosions and truck attacks on our streets.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Yes, and all of that is a great tragedy, and it demonstrates that modern Western society has not been ‘finished’ but is, apparently, an ongoing project, which in these times requires much extra effort. Which needs to have people reminded in what kind of society they actually live. It seems to me that the normal, regular educational systems have, over the last half century, blatantly failed to do so (I cannot remember one single instance from my school days that such themes were presented or discussed). I find that many local Europeans have no clue about what the West actually is (like these abject ‘rappers’), while I have found in contacts with immigrants that often they know it much better, that was one of the most important reasons that they immigrated at all. Very ironic.

        • Anon says:

          Culture, by definition, does not belong to the private sphere only. Culture is all that connects people.

          • John Borstlap says:

            That is also true. There is an ongoing discussion what, in terms of culture, belongs structurally to the public sphere and what not. This has implications for classical music, since it defines questions like: why should orchestras and opera houses be subsidized by the state, to which extent do they form a ‘social good’ for everyone? Etc. So, it appears not to be possible to totally separate culture from the social framework – because then you get questions like: should Indian culture be dominant in India? which is kind of absurd.

        • Sue says:

          Except for one huge religion (ssshh) there is no separation between church and state.

          • David R Osborne says:

            One nation under God?

          • John Borstlap says:

            In case Islam is meant, I’m sure the majority of muslems living in Europe don’t spend a thought on the question in how far they should or should not abide the European law of the country they live in, they simply want to go on with their life and are not interested in extremism – in contrary, they are more frightened than the locals because they are projected upon by people who throw all muslems on one heap, as this unthinking comment (above) shows. For the majority of muslems there is a separation between religion and state in terms of the practice of daily life. But because Islam is both a religion and a culture, and manifests itself in a field of the greatest variety, for Westerners it is difficult to get an idea of what ‘Islam’ actually is. You could as well think of ‘fish’ as one amorph mass but then the variety is lost.

          • David R Osborne says:

            Yes John a perfect reply to an utterly ill-informed comment.

  • Freedomforvegetables says:

    Anything seems to go when it comes to that particular art form.

    The awarded prize, which is based on sales figures, shows that Kollegah and Bang’s texts are obviously appreciated by audiences and have become mainstream.
    And that is as worrying as the gormless decision by the Echo jury.

    It would be interesting to discuss the reasons behind such development, but I have little hope such a grown up debate will happen in Germany. Too many holy cows are at stake here.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      It is based 50% on sales and 50% on the votes of a jury of 550 members

    • Sue says:

      And progressive pieties. I loved the idea that this is an ‘art form’!! Absolutely priceless.

      • David R Osborne says:

        Well Sue, lucky we have you to inform us of what is and is not an art-form. Hip-Hop is certainly an authentic means of cultural expression which is more than could be said about modernist contemporary classical.

        Of course it can be confrontingly racist and misogynist and no I don’t agree that we should ever let that ‘go through to the keeper’, it should not be condoned wherever it comes from. But when people like you say ‘all Muslims’ and ‘all Hip-Hop’, you are coming from a position that is perhaps less than fully informed, and I can say that because I am speaking from the standpoint of someone who has worked closely over a number of years with both Hip-Hop artists and people of the Islamic faith.

        Here’s an example of some of that work. A short film I wrote the score for, about a young Hip-Hop artist (a member of a group called the Anti Racism Action Band, or A.R.A.B.) meeting a brilliant and courageous Lebanese- Australian photographer, who does much of his work in Middle Eastern war-zones.

  • Helene Kamioner says:

    I’m not surprised. They’d give it to Hitler posthumously as well.

  • Andreas B. says:

    a shameful decision by the echo jury!

    I hope the words of the German foreign secretary, Heiko Maas, and the reaction of the Deutscher Kulturrat will be able to show that growing antisemitism won’t be tolerated by society and the arts community in Germany:

    indeed, a debate is needed how we got here …

    (sadly, this SD headline is sensationalist and unhelpful, though:
    the echo is a music industry prize for marketing purposes.
    Germany’s highest award is the “Grosskreuz des Verdienstordens”)

  • Caravaggio says:

    Wow, I’m stunned. What gives? Yes indeed, revoke the prize at once!

  • Thomasina says:

    I think Mr.Lebrecht showed to us a more soft lyric. How can we sing ” Make a Holocaust again, come on with the Molotov.”??

    • Sue says:

      I think they’re singing a familiar old tune, actually, but sung by a new demographic of Jew haters. And they’re in much bigger numbers now. But, ssssh (sound of airbrushing).

      • Thomasina says:

        Indeed. It seems that this disc sold well and definitely there are people going to their live and… Even if they revoke the prize, it will be a big publicity for this group. Alas!

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Rap of difference varieties routinely insults women and gays as well as Jews. Middle aged wannabies obviously think it is rather cool. Not sure who is the more disgusting.

  • Qwerty1234 says:

    The wonderful notos piano quartet, who won a prize in 2017, just announced they are returning their prize as a result of this decision.

  • Daniel Raiskin says:

    As soon as majority of all the artists that have been a recipient of this prize will return it, the blind and death might wake up!
    It is highly insulting to all the serious and caring artists, many of whom are jewish or/and women, to be forced to “share” it with this kind of cultural vandalism! I am surely offering to give mine back… I am surely offering to give mine back…
    The country of Bach, Beethoven, Schiller and Goethe could not sink lower.

    • Sue says:

      They’re all working on it!!! It’s the rising tide of barbarianism – obviously the result of the political climate change.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “The country of Bach, Beethoven, Schiller and Goethe could not sink lower.”

      As history tells us, we could. However, “awarding” this kind of hate speech (even as an art form!) is appalling. I do hope this is not the new normal.

  • Brettermeier says:

    But isn’t being disgusting the whole point in this genre? I don’t understand why there are awards for this, though. Or why anybody would listen to this. #sad

  • pooroperaman says:

    Did Mr Corbyn buy one?

  • Fred says:

    it is a wake up call to all of us, western civilisation as we knew it, is dying and very fast making place for prehistoric idiots who paint their bodies and “sing” (read shout/brabble) shit alongside shit “music”. Even pop culture is disappearing as elton john recently complained about, it’s making place for beats, just beats. “Music” only empty-headeds can enjoy. Our educational system also fails.
    Sad but our world is a world gone with the wind.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Strangely, these developments – which began their trajectory in the sixties of the last century – are one influential result of democracy, emancipation movements, and the ideas that there are no general standards in terms of behavior, manners, development, education etc. etc. because they are supposed to exclude people unjustly. So, the impulse to liberate the masses from their position (definitely much exploited in former times), is resulting in unleashing the untamed primitive instincts across the board, since in terms of numbers the underdeveloped are more numerous. Hence Trump, brexit, AfD in Germany, Pegida, populism everywhere, fake news addiction, etc.

      • John Borstlap says:


        It has happened before: 4th, 5th century in W-Europe. After that, ‘dark ages’ until the 11th century when a little light began to shine again.

        There has survived a letter from a poet in the 4th or 5th century AD who wrote to a collegue: “We should stop using the alexandrine structures and the differentiations of poetry in general, because there are less and less people who do undertstand it. It is better to simply write in the colloquial language of the people and no longer in Latin.”

  • Suzanne says:

    The German weekly Der Spiegel is reporting that 2 artists have returned their prizes in protest, and there are calls for the jury which awarded the prize to be disbanded and the statutes of the prize to be rewritten. Most likely too little too late …

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s really a shame that antisemitism, misogyny etc. is again growing in Germany, but not so much because they have now again more neonazis (that’s the picture that is repeated in the media) but ALSO because they have a growing figure of muslims and other immigrants who hate jews as a typical part of their cultural backpack.

    • Ellingtonia says:

      Careful there, you will have the lefties jumping up and down and “skweeming islamopbia” and wetting their pants. Devastating what effect the truth has!!!!

    • John Borstlap says:

      In many islamic countries, there is no really free press, or an ignorant press, and the public is mostly completely misinformed about ‘Jews’. Once I spoke with an immigrant from Pakistan who told me how greatly surprised he was when he actually met a ‘Jew’ in Europe who apparently was not a monster ready to attack humans. In the Middle East, painting ‘Jews’ as the origin of All Trouble in the World has to disguise the complete failure of regimes to do a decent job.