Xavier Kurt Naidoo (born 2 October 1971), also known by his stage name Kobra, is a German soul and R&B singer/songwriter, record producer, and occasional actor. He is a founding member of the German band Söhne Mannheims, and started two record labels, Beats Around the Bush and Naidoo Records. Naidoo also has a successful solo career. His debut album Nicht von dieser Welt (1998) has sold over 1 million records, and all his next six albums Zwischenspiel – Alles für den Herrn (2002), Telegramm für X (2005), Alles kann besser werden (2009), Danke für's Zuhören (2012), Bei meiner Seele (2013) und Nicht von dieser Welt 2 (2016) reached number 1 on the German album charts. Most of his songs are in German, however, he has also released a couple of English songs.
Born and raised in Mannheim to South African parents of Indian, German and Irish descent, Naidoo worked in several jobs in the food and music industries before relocating to the United States in the early 1990s, where he released his first full-length English-language album Seeing Is Believing under his stage name Kobra in 1994. He currently resides in Heidelberg in his native Germany.
After working as a backing vocalist for the Rödelheim Hartreim Projekt and 3P label mates Sabrina Setlur and Illmat!c, Naidoo released his first German language album Nicht von dieser Welt in 1998, for which he won an ECHO Award and an MTV Europe Music Award. Selling more than one million copies in total, it produced six singles, including "Seine Straßen" and "Sie sieht mich nicht", the latter of which served as the theme song for Astérix & Obélix Take on Caesar (1999). After his highly publicized departure from 3P, his third studio album Zwischenspiel – Alles für den Herrn was released in 2002. It spawned the top five hit singles "Wo willst du hin?" and "Abschied nehmen" and led to a collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan member and producer RZA, with whom he released his first number-one single "Ich kenne nichts (das so schön ist wie du)" in 2003.
Known for his soulful voice and his Christian lyrics, he has collaborated with several famous artists such as Deborah Cox and Swiss artist Stress. Naidoo was with Söhne Mannheims (Sons of Mannheim) earlier before he became famous, after his popularity increased he went back to the band and wanted to help them to become famous too, which worked. Nowadays he switches back and forth with doing some solo music or recording an album and going on tour with Söhne Mannheims. He joined groups like Brothers Keepers and the charity project (Signs of the Times) in the early 2013
In 2012, he also collaborated in Xavas, a duo formation with Kool Savas, a Turkish-German rapper in the album Gespaltene Persönlichkeit. The two had already worked together on a number of other releases.
In 2013, Xavier released "Eye Opener" on the vocal collaboration album "Features" by Kris Menace.
Eurovision Song Contest invitation and withdrawal
On 19 November 2015, Naidoo was announced as the German representative in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. His entry was due to be chosen from six competing entries in a national final in February.
However, his selection proved controversial. Naidoo's right wing political views, coupled with homophobic lyrics in his 2012 song (featuring Kool Savas) "Wo sind sie jetzt", led to calls for his selection to be reconsidered. Within a day, an online petition had gathered nearly 15,000 signatories. Claudia Roth, a vice-president of the Bundestag for the German Green Party, also criticised the decision, citing the poor timing, with right wing political causes gaining popularity in the wake of the migrant crisis. On 21 November, it was revealed by the German broadcaster, NDR, that Germany had withdrawn the singer's participation.
Xavier Naidoo has blamed the Rothschild family for Germany's 20th century history and has spoken at a meeting of the Reichsbürgerbewegung, the right-wing movement that seeks to restore Germany's pre-1918 borders, denies the legal existence of the Federal Republic of Germany and claims Germany is a country occupied by enemy, foreign forces.
Naidoo gave similar opinions in a live interview on ARD Morgenmagazin, public service breakfast television in 2015.
Naidoo's music has been claimed to feature a utopian, pan-theistic ideology through which he expressed his own political anxieties and stances. Although he explores Christian, Muslim, and Rastafarian modes of living, his work has been asserted to be strongly grounded in Old Testament narratives and apocalyptic sentiments. Applying these to situations faced specifically in a "Black German" context, Naidoo has called for solutions not from the state, but from cross-cultural spiritual collectives. For example, in the lyrics and video for "Seine Strassen", the power of the state in terms of protection and surveillance is said to pale in comparison to higher spiritual powers.
However his lyrics have also featured anti-Semitic slurs and homophobic sentiments. His 2012 song "Wo sind" implied that homosexuals were paedophiles.
Mixed German and Asian identity
Although Naidoo does not engage directly with his own mixed German and Asian identity in his music, he was integral to the formation of an Afro-German presence in German popular culture. Specifically, his work with Glashaus can be said to have originated a distinctly Afro-German form of R&B, one which addressed the issues faced by Black Germans without invoking Black Germans specifically. Not only did Naidoo experiment with sounds from around the Black Diaspora, notably working with RZA, but was also a member of Brothers Keepers, an explicitly Afro-German and explicitly political collective. As lead singer on "Adriano", one of Brothers Keepers' most well-known songs, he has been seen to stand with the Afro-German collective and setting the tone for their message.
- 1999: MTV Europe Music Award - "Best German Act"
- 2000: ECHO - "Best National Male Artist - Rock/Pop"
- 2002: Goldene Stimmgabel
- 2002: Comet - "Best Act National"
- 2002: MTV Europe Music Award - "Best German Act"
- 2004: Amadeus Award - "Record of The Year" for "Ich kenne nichts (Das so schön ist wie Du)"
- 2006: Goldene Kamera - "Pop National"
- 2006: ECHO - "Best National Male Artist - Rock/Pop"
- 2014: Das Goldene Brett vorm Kopf ("Golden blockhead") for the "most astonishing pseudo-scientific rubbish"