Germany’s Echo music prize is to be cancelled as a result of a controversy over the awarding of a prize to rappers accused of anti-Semitic lyrics. “We do not want this music prize to be considered as a platform for anti-Semitism, contempt for women, homophobia or trivialisation of violence,” said the Music Industry Federation which organises the event. The Echo award ceremony is the most famous musical awards ceremony in Germany, in areas ranging from classical to pop music and jazz.
The prestigious accolade was awarded to rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, whose latest album, Jung, brutal, gutaussehend 3 (“young, brutal, handsome 3”), contained a song in which they compared their physiques to Auschwits prisoners and another in which they called for “a new Holocaust.”
The two rappers have defended themselves against the charges of anti-Semitism but, many artists have decided to make their own Echo prize in protest, including the famous Israeli-Argentine conductor Daniel Barenboim, musical director of one of the two great operas of Berlin. The awards are based on the commercial success of the artists and the victory of the two rappers was therefore expected.
“The Echo brand has been damaged to such an extent that a completely new start is needed,” admitted the Music Industry Federation, which says it will take its time before announcing the formula that will replace these awards next year. It had previously announced a “global audit” and a “renewal of the appointment and award mechanisms”, without giving further details.
This scandal comes in the context of a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany, most recently brought to light in a video posted to the internet which showed two men wearing Kippahs being attacked on the street in Berlin.