Although the members of the Beastie Boys are not practicing Jews, they have a special Judaic tint to their music. The Jewish element remains and one example can be found on their fourth album, Ill Communication. In the jam “Eugene’s Lament” you feel the sounds of the old Klezmer music. The track has a piercing violin moving to the sway of the accompaniment while cutting in with sharp precision and verve. Being Jewish in the Hip-Hop scene made them proud of their heritage, but also a bit ambivalent. MCA, who converted to Buddhism in 1994, gave an interview where his identity wasn’t steeped in his Jewish roots, but was more a sense of pride. They speak of their identities in a 1994 SPIN magazine interview, and how the Jewish issue has been a factor. In the interview the reporter writes that, “Hip-hop’s insistent anti-Semitic nattering, usually via the Nation of Islam’s endorsement of such viciously fallacious tracks as Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” is a source of their defiance. Many Hip-Hop groups have delved into the philosophies of the Nation of Islam, who tend to harbor anti-Semitic beliefs. They lament that factor, but they also say that Judaism itself was never really discussed and none of them are observantly practicing. Still, the note that it’s a uniting cause as MCA says that, “One thing that’s true and cool is that I get a lot of Jewish kids coming up to me feeling pride and strength from what we’re doing.” Many prominent MC’s, as well as the fresh crew of the recent years, were influenced by them. White MC’s saw them as a source of inspiration and pride while feeling confident in their participation of a black art form. Intentionally or not, the Beastie Boys will always be a source of pride to the up-and coming Jews of the Hip-Hop generation.
The Beastie Boys, Eugene’s Lament: