Classical label resigns from Grammys over jailbird’s award

Classical label resigns from Grammys over jailbird’s award


norman lebrecht

June 07, 2021

This year’s Swedish Grammy awards have been hit by the resignation of the country’s leading classical label, BIS.

Apparently, the Hip-hop award went to a nice young man called Yasin, who is doing serious jail time for weapon crimes and kidnap.

The Swedish IFPI which issues the award said it wanted to draw a line between artistic values and his private life.

That flipped the lid at BIS.


  • John Borstlap says:

    I thought that ‘serious jail time’ was merely an artistic expression within the aesthetics of hophippers and rappers. They take their work seriously and if that includes real crime, it’s just a sign of their idealism, that they take it REALLY seriously.

    But as such it is crazy to reward such aesthetics, so BIS – who are a serious club – are entirely right.

    • Nick says:

      Any label that releases rap cannot and should not be called SERIOUS! BIS, therefore, is not a serious label

      • Kathleen E King says:

        Agreed that “hip hop” and “rap” and all those other discords are not “music”, let alone serious music. Still, BIS publishes Mozet, Beethoven, Brahmns, and the master Bach (et fam.) who ARE real music, serious music, and yes civilization so BIS, counts, and its withdrawal should too.

      • Marfisa says:

        Nick has misread the report.

  • marcus says:

    Missed a trick there-the perfect opportunity to how “down with the kids” they really are.

  • PianistW says:

    Don’t complain, it was an act of inclusion and visibility. Don’t be racist…

  • BigSir says:

    Drawing a line between artistic and private life? Really? Looking at what was done to the old white males based on metoo allegations, the reverse racism and totally hypocrisy here is pretty disgusting.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Check the BIS catalogue:

  • Just to clarify: Yasin Abdullahi (who was released last year after 3 months in custody for murder, and already has a 2 years and 3 months’ gaol conviction for aggravated weapons crime), has now been sitting in custody since January this year, indicted for planning to kidnap a fellow artist (the artist was indeed kidnapped and tortured).

    I simply cannot abide by the decision of the Swedish IFPI to nominate such a felon for the most important Swedish record award, and therefore will not allow BIS’s products to participate as of next year. The Award has been irrevocably tainted.

    Robert von Bahr, CEO, BIS Records)

    • Rob Keeley says:

      Mr von Bahr, I warmly applaud your brave (but entirely justified) decision.

    • Herbie G says:

      Absolutely the right thing to do. Bis is a stunning success story – one man’s dream has become a world-famous enterprise; if I buy a Bis CD I know that the engineering and performance will be outstanding. The repertoire is huge and varied, with no temptation to issue yet another ‘Four Seasons’ or ‘Favourite Opera Choruses’, or to pay ‘celebs’ silly sums of money to have their names emblazoned on the cover.

      Some people might care which recordings get Grammy Awards. I couldn’t care less. If I ever had a CD that won such an award, I’d keep quiet about it. Robert von Bahr has something infinitely better – tens, maybe hundreds, of thousand people world-wide who buy his CDs and get hours of pleasure from them – as I do.

  • Wurtfangler says:

    The double standards here are indeed shocking. If he had been a white, classical artist who have been accused (probably without proof) of simply shaking a woman’s hand without asking first he would have been strung up!! The world has turned upside down!

  • Tom Clowes says:

    Since this short post featured an incarcerated Black man, I assumed there would be plenty of racist comments in the comments section, and I wasn’t disappointed. Is this really the best we in the European classical music world can do?

  • KrottorK says:

    I find great joy in the amount of contradicting behavior, not only within the publishers ideology, but also the commenters here. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that all of the great composers have been jailed to varying degrees of authority. Of course the level of seriousness and tolerance for committing crimes throughout the ages is dictated by these authorities. As much as I like the argument “it’s a matter of opinion”, that opinion is limited by those facts and the circumstances they reside in. Understanding these ideologies and applying them to our current circumstances shows how incompatible this person’s lifestyle was with not just our political reality, but our social environment as well. However, this inclination is not a result of musical attribute.

    E.g. As the saying goes, correlation is not causation folks. (I’m not defending this guy’s ridiculous behavior, nor should it be tolerated or rewarded in any way.)

    • Kyle says:

      You may not be defending criminal behavior, but by referring to murder, kidnapping, and torture as “ridiculous behavior” you are certainly minimizing it, which is a step toward tolerating it and is among society’s current ideologies.

    • Herbie.G says:

      “all of the great composers have been jailed to varying degrees of authority”? What have you been snorting?

  • Gary Freer says:

    I quite fancy the Gesualdo Six’s chances

  • Tribonian says:

    The fact that a record label has made a courageous stand is newsworthy. The fact that a violent thug is nominated for a rap award is not.

    Time to buy something from the bis catalogue!

  • Sharon Beth Long says:

    As a psychiatric nurse I know that many are in jail for things like trespassing, drug possession, peaceful political protest etc.

    I have been much better to say “convicted of violent assault and kidnapping” than to say “jailbird”.

  • Wannaplayguitar says:

    Maybe he didn’t pay his TV licence…’s not enough these days to say I never watch BBC on my iPad