Germany’s largest fruit juice company on Thursday joined a growing assembly of musicians, artists and corporations expressing fury at the award of the country’s most prestigious music prize to an antisemitic rap duo.
Juice producer Voelkel announced that it would cut all ties to the “Echo Awards,” organized annually by the Federal Association of the Music Industry (BVMI), after the duo “Kollegah & Farid Bang” won the hip hop/urban category award at the ceremony in Berlin on Apr. 12 — Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.
The company slammed the “shameful comparison with victims of the Holocaust” contained in one of the duo’s tracks, “O815.”
“My body is more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates,” the lyrics to the track say, before exhorting, “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming with a Molotov.”
The award to the duo caused an outcry in Germany, with newspaper Die Welt criticizing the “cowardly silence of the music industry” and car maker Skoda threatening to pull sponsorship.
After initially defending the award on the dual grounds of artistic freedom and the healthy sales of the duo’s latest album, “Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend (‘Young, Brutal, Goodlooking’) 3,” the BVMI backed down in the face of heavy criticism over the last week. Florian Drücke, the organization’s chief executive, also sent a letter to one of Germany’s senior Jewish leaders, Charlotte Knobloch, offering his “deepest apologies to you and all the other people whose sentiments we have hurt.”
Several previous winners — including Igor Levit, the respected classical pianist and Klaus Voorman, the legendary record sleeve designer whose credits include The Beatles’ “Revolver” — have returned their past awards amid the chorus of protest.
Kollegah — whose real name is Felix Martin Andreas Matthias Blume — was born in Germany and has released several solo albums. He is also a vocal Palestinian solidarity advocate, having produced a 2016 documentary on his visit to the West Bank that has garnered over 1 million YouTube views. Farid Bang — the namesake of Farid El Abdellaoui — was born in Spain and is of Moroccan descent. The pair have released three collaborative albums.
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