How BMG Secretly Signed a Rapper Dropped for Antisemitic Lyrics

Freeze Corleone rarely speaks to the news media. His real name is Issa Lorenzo Diakhaté, and he was born in a suburb of Paris in 1992. His father is Senegalese and his mother Italian. The rapper did not respond to numerous messages sent by email and social media requesting comment for this article. A business associate who helped him arrange his deal with BMG declined to comment.

Yet he speaks through his music. Rapping in a low voice, over minor-key piano figures, he performs a variation of drill, a hip-hop style often filled with dark tones and violent imagery.

Many of his lyrics feature standard hip-hop tropes, like allusions to sports and pop culture. On one track he rhymes the name of Larry Bird, the Boston Celtics legend, with that of Marty Byrde, the money launderer played by Jason Bateman on Netflix’s “Ozark.” But a thread of antisemitism runs throughout his work, manifested in Nazi references, dismissals of the Holocaust, and slurs and stereotypes about Jews.

He has boasted of having “the propaganda techniques of Goebbels” and “big ambitions” like “the young Adolf.” In one song, “Le Chen,” from 2016, he rapped: “I’ve got to get the khaliss moving in my community like a Jew.” In Wolof, a language spoken in Senegal, where he spent time growing up, khaliss means money.

Olivier Lamm, a music critic for the French newspaper Libération, said that “the thematic substance of Freeze Corleone’s rap is obsessively antisemitic.” He cited an example from one of the rapper’s early tracks in which he used a profanity in dismissing the Shoah — a term for the Holocaust — and pointed to lines on his latest album, “Riyad Sadio,” that seem to refer to Israel and Jews, with key words bleeped out.

In 2020, Universal Music France released “La Menace Fantôme” (“The Phantom Menace”), which went double platinum in France, selling the equivalent of 200,000 copies there. Lyrics highlighted “Aryans,” though did not explicitly address Jews.

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