This post originally appeared on VICE Germany
Anis Ferchichi, a.k.a. Bushido, a.k.a. Sonny Black is Germany's answer to Rick Ross when it comes to scandals, and Maybach Music when it comes to success. One of Germany's most successful rappers and label owners, Bushido is also the most controversial and provocative mainstream star in Germany. The unclear extent of his Islamic faith, his ties to the shady figure Arafat Abou Chaker, rumors about domestic violence, and his frequently sexist and homophobic lyrics have earned Bushido a lot of media attention in recent years.
Germany's premiere feminist Alice Schwarzer has been in an ongoing beef with Bushido, politicians have sued him over lyrics that sounded like death threats, and rapper Kay One was temporarily under police protection after denouncing his former mentor as a "mafia puppet" and "lapdog of the Abou Chaker clan."
Regardless of whether you agree with his simplistic worldview and the ambiguous messages of his music, one has to acknowledge the fact that his success, reach, and media presence give him a large influence on German youth—particularly young male immigrants with a Muslim background.
One day after the Charlie Hebdo attack Bushido posted a selfie wearing a Nike sweater with a "Paris" logo and the claim "Things are going to kick-off again soon! #ccn3 #ccn3willtearafewnewones" on his Instagram. Understandably, outrage ensued and few people—apart from his die-hard fans—believed that all he was trying to do was promote his upcoming album CCN3. Once again, Bushido demonstrated a clever—if not very thoughtful—ability to manufacture PR stunts. Reproaches hailed down, of course claiming Bushido was mocking the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack, while many fans and even some music journalists said the outrage was racist—the caucasian German rapper Prinz Porno wore the same sweatshirt the same day and got virtually no media attention whatsoever, they said.
VICE Germany's long-term contributor Marcus Staiger visited Bushido in his home to talk about the reasons for the inappropriate post and his role in gangster rap and Islam. Staiger used to own RoyalBunker—one of Germany's most influential hip-hop labels and the birthplace of many of the most relevant German rap stars today.