Germany-based music company BMG — distributor of releases by controversial rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, whose lyrics many consider to be anti-semitic — today announced a campaign against “a growing wave of anti-Semitism in Germany” with a new campaign focused on schools. The company is pledging 100,000 Euros to the campaign, in which it will “partner with expert organisations in the field to tackle the problem in schools, particularly in the country’s capital, Berlin,” according to a press release.
The German music industry has received a firestorm of criticism after the duo won the country’s Echo Award last week for having the top-selling album of 2017; the awards ceremony took place on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The album in question, “Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3” (“Young, Brutal, Good-Looking”) includes lyrics in which the rappers say their muscles are “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners’” and “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming with a Molotov.” The album, which has sold more than 200,000 copies in a market that is still largely based on physical sales, topped the charts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Several artists have returned their Echo Awards in protest, and Airbus CEO Tom Enders is the most recent high-profile commentator to join in the fray. The duo’s win was roundly criticized on the Echo Awards stage by Campino, lead singer of veteran German punk band Die Toten Hosen, who received a standing ovation.
The German music industry association, BVMI, initially said the award is in recognition of sales, not content, but its chief Florian Druecke told the RND newspaper chain the nomination and selection process for the Echo Awards will be reconsidered in light of the outcry.
In its announcement today, BMG — which has artist-services deals with both rappers’ labels — said the anti-Semitism campaign is “the company’s response to significant public concern about the rise of anti-Semitism provoked by the controversial appearance of artists Kollegah and Farid Bang at this year’s Echo Awards held on April 12.”
BMG Worldwide CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “Recent news reports have produced shocking evidence of a new wave of anti-Semitism in German schools. BMG is utterly opposed to anti-Semitism. We know our artists and employees are behind us. We want to ensure that something positive emerges from the debate surrounding the Echo Awards.
“Kollegah and Farid Bang have repeatedly made it clear on the internet and speaking in public that they are not anti-Semitic, and they have apologized for any distress caused by the lyrics in question. BMG stands for values such as artistic freedom, creativity and diversity. We take the current discussion as an opportunity to publicize our clear stance against anti-Semitism and are determined to actively engage on this issue.”