Shalom Life | May 10, 2015

Jewish Top 10s: Rappers

From the Beastie Boys to Drake, Jews continue to have a strong influence on hip hop culture. As such, Shalom Life is proud to present our list of the best Jewish rappers around.

By: Daniel Koren

Published: July 19th, 2013 in Culture » Music » News

3.


RAPPER: SUBLIMINAL

JEWISH NAME: YAAKOV 'KOBI' SHIMONI

HOMETOWN: TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

KNOWN FOR: "ANI YACHOL," "TORO"

WORD: We have this little sandbox we call Israel. We give our hearts and lives to make it a proud country. Every one serves in the Israeli Defense Force in order for Israel to survive

In the late 1990s, as rap culture was taking over the United States and Canada by storm, a handful of lyrical wordsmiths were doing their part to bring this culture to Israel, forming raps in Hebrew over beats that were synonymous with the production stemming from the States, but fused with a prominent Middle Eastern flavour. Subliminal, born Yaakov 'Kobi' Shimoni, was the first such rapper to break out into the scene, bringing Israeli rap to the forefront of Hebrew culture. Born to a Persian Jewish mother and Tunisian Jewish father, Subliminal's music was very politically influenced from the start.


At his concerts, Subliminal would often begin by shouting to the audience "who is proud of being a Zionist?!" From personal experience, it's safe to say the man knows how to throw a concert. Subliminal has explained that his message is aimed towards teenagers who he believes can help develop stronger feelings of Israeli pride and patriotism.

2.


RAPPER(S): BEASTIE BOYS

JEWISH NAMES: MICHAEL DIAMOND, ADAM YAUCH, ADAM HOROVITZ

HOMETOWN: NEW YORK CITY

KNOWN FOR: "SABOTAGE," "FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARTY," "INTERGALACTIC"

WORD: I want to say a little something that’s long overdue, the disrespect to women has got to be through, to all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends, I wanna offer my love and respect till the end

7 Platinum albums, 40 million albums sold worldwide, and a play in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hard to top.

The Beastie Boys, consisting of Jewish New Yorkers Adam Horovitz 'Ad-Rock', Michael Diamond 'Mike D', and Adam Yauch 'MCA,' weren’t always a hip-hop group, with their earliest work placing them in the New York hardcore punk scene, opening for such acts as Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, and Misfits. 1983 saw the band switch to a hip hop trio, with influential Jewish producer Rick Rubin producing their earliest work. The group toured with such seminal acts as Madonna, Public Image Ltd, and Run DMC, before recording the classic Licensed To Ill, with the ever popular “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” becoming their breakout single.

1992 would see the Beastie Boys become real trendsetters with the release of Check Your Head, whose heavier focus on instrumentation would kickstart the rap rock trends of the 90s. In 1998 their song "Intergalatic" earned them a grammy. During this period, the band came out in support of numerous social causes, most notably organizing the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996.


In 2009, the Beasties announced they would soon release their seventh proper album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. However, the discovery of a cancerous tumor in MCA’s parotid gland, the album would be delayed until 2011, at which time it was released to critical acclaim. Sadly, MCA succumbed to cancer on May 4 2012. A year after his death, a park was named after him in Brooklyn, New York.

Ad-Rock and Mike D have been cryptic regarding the band’s future, but even if they were to stop making music, they could rest easy knowing just how much of an influence they have had on music and pop culture over the last three decades.

1.


RAPPER: ACTION BRONSON

JEWISH NAME: ARIAN ASLLANI

HOMETOWN: FLUSHING, QUEENS, NEW YORK

KNOWN FOR: "BIRD ON A WIRE," "BRUNCH," "THE ROCKERS"

WORD: Aged wine got me spinning like a dreidel

These days, it's just as important to have an interesting and unique back story as it is to have exceptional skills as a wordsmith and rapper. For Arian Asllani, aka Action Bronson, a.k.a. Bam-Bam, a.k.a. Bronsollini, his is one of the most entertaining and original tales around. Hailing from Flusing, Queens, Bronson is a culinary expert who worked as a chef at a high-end gourmet restaurant. He also had his own cooking show before he realized his true calling wasn't behind the grill but behind a microphone. A true foodie, Bronson raps about gourmet food in his music, whether he's preparing "salad crumbled with bacon and blue cheese" or "jerk chicken."

Bronson's father is an Albanian immigrant, while his mother a Jewish New Yorker. His heritage is overly blatant throughout his music, as is Bronson's vivid, and often vulgar, misogynistic and terrifying imagination. It is this originality that merits his receiving the top accolade on this list; since emerging onto the scene, Bronson has been regarded as the next King of New York, which, if you consider the past few rap legends of the city (Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, Nas), he doesn't quite fit the image. It's not even his white complexion or Jewish heritage that sets him apart; it's his music.


In his latest EP, SAAB Stories, a collaborative effort with New York producer Harry Fraud and his first studio album since signing with Warner Bros, Bronson takes his dark persona even further - just look at the artwork. While other rappers may share Action's fondness for prostitutes, food, and marijuana, no one has yet to convey stories the way he does, or in the manner in which he does. He's funny by nature, and it shows. Action is not concerned with other people's perception of him, nor does he feel the need to live up to the hype; he raps about what he wants to, with a keen ear for eclectic, unorthodox production. As a package, Action Bronson is the real deal, but most importantly, he's fresh, unique, and immensely talented.

WATCH: Non-Jews Eat Jewish Food for the First Time, Again Trending Action Bronson Reveals He Loves Israeli Food in Interview with Jonah Hill Trending The Soup Nazi is Coming to Israel to Paricipate in Street Food Festival Trending
 

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