Rappers Kollegah, Farid Bang stir controversy at Germany′s biggest music awards | News | DW | 12.04.2018

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Rappers Kollegah, Farid Bang stir controversy at Germany's biggest music awards

A punk rock vocalist has criticized two award-winning artists for invoking Auschwitz to describe their "defined" bodies. The hip-hop artists have distanced themselves from anti-Semitism after public outrage in Germany.

The 2018 Echo Music Awards on Thursday faced a heated debate on freedom of expression after two controversial rappers won the "Best of Hip-Hop/Urban, National" award.

German hip-hop artists Kollegah and Farid Bang courted controversy last year for their song "0815" that included the lyrics: "My body is more defined that those of Auschwitz inmates."

Both rappers were nominated for "Best Album of the Year" for their album "Jung, brutal, gut aussehend 3," which translates to "Young, brutal, good looking 3."

Read more: Is it illegal to call someone a Nazi?

Before Kollegah and Bang received the award, Campino, the lead singer of German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen, took to the stage and criticized them for their lyrics.

Campino said while provocation can be a crucial tool for creativity, Kollegah and Bang crossed the line with their Auschwitz comparison. Campino's remarks received a standing ovation from the audience.

Kollegah und Farid Bang at 2018 Echo Awards

Kollegah held up a hand-drawn image of Campino after the punk rock vocalist criticized the rappers for evoking Auschwitz to describe their "defined" bodies

No 'political debate'

Kollegah hit back at Campino when receiving an award on stage, waving a hand-drawn image of Campino. "I do not want to make a political debate out of it here," Kollegah said while standing next to Bang.

Bang has apologized for the lyrics in question, saying he and Kollegah distanced themselves from "any and all forms of anti-Semitism and hate against minorities."

Read more: Are Germany's anti-racism initiatives achieving enough?

The Echo Awards' organizers defended their decision to include both artists prior to the ceremony, citing freedom of artistic expression.

More than 1 million people were killed by Nazi Germany at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during World War II, the majority of them Jews. Many of them were discovered starving and emaciated when they were freed at the end of the war. April 12, 2018, marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, which saw thousands of people participate in the March of the Living from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau concentration camp in a memorial to those killed in the Holocaust.   

ls/sms (dpa, AFP)