Coming from a family that is loud, obnoxious, and in your face when it comes to cordial conversation made me the bearer of iconoclasm. Being Jewish gave us the extra pushiness, yet my family have always been progressive in the eyes of preconceived mores and traditions. My wonderfully amazing Grandmother, Bernice Wechsler who just passed away Z’L, was a trailblazer in her own right. After the Second World War my Grandfather was stationed in the south. My Grandmother worked in a social work office and she saw first hand the ugliness of Jim Crow. In the waiting room were two blazingly loud signs, one reading white waiting area and the other reading colored waiting area. We all know which side was well kept and which side was disheveled in parts. My Grandmother would not stand for the indignation of this bizarre system, as C. Van Woodward put it. One day she courageously stood up and removed both of the sings, forcefully integrating the waiting room area.
My mother, the ever hellfire of a protestor, is the same way. My mother began protesting the Vietnam War while the folkies were still conceded with Civil Rights. My mother was always very vocal on her opinions, yet she is also very intelligent in her fight for the good cause. The many amazing members of my family tree, climbing up and down or in the case of my Italian side – swinging through the rafters, gave me the push to be more vocal and pushy when the right seems so wrong. We were against traditional ideas, yet we still held firm to our Jewish tradition and the many wonderful Holy Days and gatherings.
So, Let’s make a tradition. It is less than an hour till Shabbat comes into full swing and the middle period of the uncertainty of Twilight is down for the day. I want to give you three videos of fun and a completely mixed bag at that. I love adding the Jewish elements so let’s start with a great MC I had the pleasure of chatting with this past week. Eprhyme hails from Arizona and lived on the West Coast for sometime. He now lives in Brooklyn, New York, yet he still records in Washington. He made some great points including mentioning the enormity of the Jewish net I want to cast when it comes to Jews and Hip Hop. I’m including the video to his song “Life Sentence” from his album Dopestylevsky.
He is a perfect example of the mailability of Jewish MC’s and how they brake the notions of the proper Jewish presentation, whatever that may be. He stays true to himself and his art, while eschewing the greater pressures that the corporate structure bestows upon the rappers who become literal slaves to the machine.
In light of this iconoclastic difference in rap styles I want to include a personal favorite. When I first heard the group Digable Planets I was blown by how cool they sounded. Each MC, Doodlebug, Butterfly, and Ladybug Mecca, has such a monotone sounding voice that blends beautifully with the rugged beats in the background. Their first album is a classic, but their second album Blowout Haircomb is one of the best Hip Hop albums ever. I’m adding their video for the song “9th Wonder”
because the flow of the rhyme steles are so catchy with the slow beat haze riding the words. There’s a slight connection as the young boy finds an old style ten shekel bill embossed with the light orange glaze with the soft eyes of Golda Meir looking on in awe.
The last, but not the very least, video is from my amazingly talented cousin, Jeremiah;s and the magnificent Sway Machinery. Jeremiah and the band have gone through many transitions with the stellar influences reaching the outer reaches of the cosmos. Two years or so ago the band flew to Mali, before the trouble began, and recorded with some amazing local artists. Check out the productive product in their album The House Of Friendly Ghosts, Vol. 1. The majesty of the horns blaze the path of glory, as the drums bang to reach the inner soul of your ear drum, and of course Jeremiah’s cutting razor blade guitar playing precision is laced lovely with his cantorial voice of heavenly wails…here’s the video for their song “Gawad Teriamou” with the help of the soulful voice of Khaira Arby.
Shabbat shalom to all and to all a restful weekend.