Rap Hashanah

An old school new year
By STEVEN LEE BEEBER  |  September 24, 2007

The Boston Jewish Music Connection kicked off the Jewish New Year a week ago last Wednesday not with a kegger or kippers but with a freestyle showdown of Jewish rappers — a show that threw an old-school twist on Rosh Hashanah 5768.

On hand upstairs at the Middle East were little-known mini-Matisyahus like Kosha Dillz, DJ Handler, Y-Love, and RADIx. Whether rapping about Black September (the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics) or the Biblical language of Aramaic, these descendants of the people of the book kept it real by keeping to the script. They were literate social critics possessed of equal parts chutzpah and mishegas. Or, to translate, they were Lenny Bruce prophets, half crazy from the heat and ready to attack, testifying in the classic sense, their Old Testament sentiments buoyed by funky ass beats.

The enthusiastic but small crowd (hey, it was a school night, in the midst of the week separating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — and this ain’t New York) gathered in front of the stage to engage in call-and-response with the fiery ravings of the skullcapped prophets. “It’s cool to have something like this,” said a 23-year-old Tufts med-school student on hand with his girlfriend, she a lawyer at a local firm. “It gives you a different perspective on what it means to be Jewish.”

“That’s true,” said Dillz, an Israeli native who grew up in New Jersey and was known as Rami Esh before pickling himself in rap juice. “But it’s not just Jews who get to explore their identities through music.” In Israel, he pointed out, Israeli and Palestinian youth regularly take part in similar events as a sort of peace summit in rhyme. “People who can’t even speak to each other can sing together, and that’s something,” he said with a shrug.

Nothing so earth-shattering was in the works at this Middle East. But as a kickoff to a new kind of New Year, it had this Jew ready to trade a cap in the ass for a skullcap and a turn at the mic.

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  Topics: Live Reviews , Entertainment, Hip-Hop and Rap, Music,  More more >
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