S.For some time now there has been a debate about anti-Semitism, which many gangsta rappers openly celebrate – out of conviction and as part of the business model of the subculture, which is strongly influenced by male migrants. It reached its peak so far when the rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah were to receive an Echo Music Prize in 2018 for a song whose text contains an Auschwitz comparison. The waves hit so high at the time that the music award was abolished.
A study by Bielefeld University on behalf of the North Rhine-Westphalian anti-Semitism commissioner Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) now shows that consumers of the economically extremely successful music genre run the risk of adopting anti-Semitic attitudes. “For the first time, the study empirically proves that gangsta rap prepares the breeding ground for later solidified anti-Semitic attitudes,” said Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger on Tuesday when the first results of the survey were presented.
For the study, which is to be published in September, a representative group of 500 people between the ages of twelve and 24 in North Rhine-Westphalia was surveyed between 2019 and 2021. In cooperation with a demoscopy institute, employees of the Center for Prevention and Intervention in Children and Adolescents at Bielefeld University conducted individual and group discussions. On the basis of 16 statements submitted, the research team assessed how strongly anti-Semitic the respondents are. The discussions were about texts and videos by rappers like Kollegah, Farid Bang, Sido, Fler or Fard & Snaga.
The survey showed that 26.5 percent of the children and adolescents have a very strong anti-Semitic attitude. It is noticeable that slightly more than 80 percent of this group stated that they liked or very much enjoyed listening to gangsta rap. Of the 36.5 percent of those surveyed who were not anti-Semitic, only around half enjoyed or very much enjoyed gangsta rap. The girls and boys were often unable to recognize anti-Semitic symbols, hints or codes in the texts and music videos as such. As an example, the researchers named the catchphrase “Rothschild conspiracy” in some songs on Tuesday.
Authoritarian power fantasies
In addition, the listeners showed “a rather distant relationship to conspiracy narratives”, but tended to simple interpretations of the world in a good-bad grid – that is, the pattern that is always recurring in gangsta rap. Many of the respondents perceived gangsta rap as legitimate, plausible, authentic and true social criticism; 43 percent agreed with the statement that “the grievances of the world are addressed” in the music genre.
For a long time it has been observed in gangsta rap “that an excess of body cult and authoritarian power fantasies are central motifs in the self-portrayal of mostly male artists,” said study director Marc Grimm. The core elements of this type of rap, which is economically most successful in Germany, are “ideologies of inequality”, that is, the devaluation of women and homosexuals and anti-Semitism. The texts that glorify violence have “an influence on the values and democratic attitudes as well as the discrimination attitudes” of young people, said Grimm. The survey also showed connections to misogynist and chauvinistic attitudes.
However, the researchers did not find a connection between the consumption of gangsta rap and racist attitudes. For the first time in a youth survey there were indications that anti-Semitic attitudes exist independently of racist attitudes. Contrary to popular belief, gangsta rap is not only heard by young people from precarious backgrounds.
Like the Bielefeld research team, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is also convinced that bans are the wrong answer to dangers. On the one hand, the raised index finger shows little effect on young people, on the other hand, freedom of expression weighs heavily, the former Federal Minister of Justice pointed out. Above all, it is a matter of spreading the results of the study. That is why there is to be a symposium in June with representatives of different religions, from education and the music industry. “The industry also has a responsibility,” said the anti-Semitism officer.
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