Award for offensive album creates uproar

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend and they hit it off instantly. In their album last year, German rappers Farid Bang (far left) and Kollegah boasted about how their bodies are "more defined than Auschwitz p
In their album last year, German rappers Farid Bang (left) and Kollegah boasted about how their bodies are "more defined than Auschwitz prisoners".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • In one of Germany's biggest-selling albums last year, rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang boasted about how their bodies are "more defined than Auschwitz prisoners". In another, they vowed to "make another Holocaust".

Widespread condemnation had followed, and this has turned into an uproar since they won best hip-hop album at Germany's equivalent of the Grammys on April 12.

The country's recording industry association had rebuked the lyrics but defended its choice in the name of artistic freedom.

Nominations are based on popularity and rankings on music charts, not artistic quality - a process it has pledged to re-examine after the outcry.

The objectionable lyrics in the album, Young, Brutal, Good Looking 3, do not explicitly deny the mass slaughter of some six million Jews by the Nazis, nor do they specifically incite hatred of Jews, both of which would have made them illegal under Germany's strict laws banning Holocaust denial.

On the night of the ceremony, Kollegah replied to the criticism by saying: "I don't want to make a political debate out of this", and invited anyone who wanted to discuss it to approach him at an after-party.

Some rap fans have said that the lyrics were being unfairly scrutinised by people who did not understand the genre, in which rappers constantly try to outdo and outshock their rivals.

"Of course, I think this line is tasteless," a fan noted, referring to the offending lyrics.

"But let's be honest, a discussion about the political correctness in music lyrics should not be limited to rap."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline ' Award for offensive album creates uproar'. Print Edition | Subscribe