German music industry ends top award over rappers with anti-Semitic lyrics

JTA

(JTA) — One of Germany’s top music prizes is being discontinued after it was awarded earlier this month to two rappers with a song containing anti-Semitic lyrics.

The executive board of Germany’s Music Industry Association, or BVMI, announced on Wednesday that it had decided to discontinue the Echo Awards, the German Deutsche Welle news service reported.

“The Echo brand is so badly damaged that a complete new beginning is necessary,” BVMI said in a statement. “Echo will be no more.”

“The events surrounding this year’s Echo, for which the board apologized, cannot be reversed, but we can ensure that such a mistake does not happen again in the future.”

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The board also made it clear that the award cannot be seen or used as a platform for anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia or the trivialization of violence, Billboard reported.

On April 12, Kollegah and Farid Bang won an Echo in the hip-hop category for an album with lyrics that boasted of physiques “more defined that those of Auschwitz inmates” and called for “another Holocaust; let’s grab the Molotov” cocktails. The album’s title in English is “Young, Brutal, Good Looking 3.”

Artists are nominated for Echo Awards based on sales numbers and not the quality of their work.

Award organizers had cited “freedom of artistic expression” in defending their decision to nominate the two rappers. But they had been advised against the nomination, including by the Catholic Church delegates to the Echo Awards ethics board.

Kollegah and Farid Bang have since apologized for the lyrics, and their record label put up $125,000 for a campaign to fight anti-Semitism, according to Deutsche Welle.

Several prominent German musicians, including conductor Daniel Barenboim, returned their Echo Awards in protest.