A wave of prominent musicians have returned their Echos, Germany’s top music award, to protest rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang. The rappers, who won an Echo for Best Album this year, are accused of anti-Semitic lyrics. We hear from Nana Brink, journalist at Deutschlandfunk Kultur, about the backlash within the music community and her take on the current state of rap in Germany.
To Brink, what’s most surprising isn’t that Germany’s stars are outraged about the rappers’ questionable lyrics, which include lines like “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming with a molotov,” but that the reaction took to so long to materialize in the first place. “I think we should remember that the songs, which include lyrics that many consider anti-Semitic, were nominated despite that fact.” As to why this album was nominated for one of Germany’s highest musical distinctions, Brink says it comes down to how the prize is awarded: “The problem lays within the structure of that award. It is based on the commercial success on official German music charts – not on artistic values.”
Brink notes that this rap scandal comes “amid a general political swing towards the right and an overall rise in anti-Semitism in central Europe,” and says that, “today’s level of acceptance of provocation has risen to an enormous extent.” Brink says it’s possible the rappers’ fans are uninformed and naive about the lyrics on the album, which sold more than 200,000 copies. Brink says fans admire the singers “for breaking rules, overstepping moral lines and living in confrontation with a so-called political correctness,” and thinks that “rappers like Kollegah thrive on that success without any moral qualm.”