Chilly Gonzales Sings About Separating Art From The Artist On New Song “F*ck Wagner”

Chilly Gonzales — the Canadian musician who has collaborated with Daft Punk, Feist, Drake, and many more over the years — has released a new song called “F*ck Wagner,” a sentiment he’s expressed previously in a German television appearance almost a decade ago. “Can you separate the art from the artist?” Gonzales wrote on his Instagram. “I say yes and F*CK WAGNER.”

The track is one of Gonzales’ rap songs, of which he’s done quite a few in the past, and he starts off by going in on the titular German composer — “F-U-C-K Richard Wagner/ What a motherfucking monster/ King Kong conquered Western culture/ Fuck him and his Nazi granddaughter” — and goes on to bring up Kanye West, another noted anti-Semite: “Harder, faster, better, stronger/ Kanye West is the brand new Wagner.”

“I know that we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead/ But this decomposing composer needs a kick in the head,” Gonzales says, continuing on: “First of all, he was anti-Semitic/ But worst of all/ He was glad to admit it/ He said a Jew poet/ Couldn’t be a true poet/ But have you heard ‘Hotline Bling’?/ A Jew wrote it.”

“So can the artist and the art ever be separated?/ It’s hard to boycott something that you love/ But it’s easy if you hate it,” Gonzales goes on. “Like if I never hear Richard Wagner again/ I know I wouldn’t miss him/ But I still bang that R. Kelly remix to ‘Ignition.’” (R. Kelly is currently serving sentences in prison for child pornography and racketeering and sex trafficking charges.)

You can hear *F*ck Wagner” below.

Gonzales has also launched a petition to change the name of a street in Köln, Germany (where Gonzales has lived for a number of years) from Richard Wagner Strasse to Tina Turner Strasse. Here is Gonzales’ letter to the mayor that accompanies the petition:

SUBJECT: The un-naming of Richard Wagner Strasse in Innenstadt Köln

REASON: Separating the Art from the Antisemitic, racist Artist

Richard Wagner was a great composer but a monstrous human being. We consider the late 19th century Europe to be a milieu of many outdated ideas – especially prejudice against Jews but Wagner used his platform as a leading intellectual to encourage anti-semitism in his book “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (1869), saying among many other examples:

“Der Jude ist der plastische Dämon des Verfalls der Menschheit.” – Richard Wagner

Un-naming the street is not an act of “cancel culture” but an act of separating the art from the artist. We are not calling to stop the performance of his operas. But when we name a street after an antisemite (who had no intimate relationship with Cologne), we are honouring an unworthy man. Removing his name from the street allows us to remove the man from the equation, to see his artistic contribution more clearly, and to continue to honour his creative output in other ways (staging his operas).

I feel rage and shame when I walk on Richard Wagner Strasse. As a Wahlkolner since 2012 with Jewish roots but also a fan of Wagner’s music I felt something had to be done.

Therefore, we ask to separate the art from the artist with this long-overdue gesture.

Sincerely,

Jason “Chilly Gonzales” Beck

“F*ck Wagner” is out now via PIAS.

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