I realized that my last dispatch from beyond the local hemisphere presented some great works of album cover art. I also included the Jewish inspired covers, and of course I made sure to give props to Rick Ross……cause Bar Mitzvhas are hard to do. This time around I want to continue on with my drum beating presentations of Jews and Hip-Hop. Jews have played an integral role in Hip-Hop, and as the art became far more global and accessible, Jews became far more prolific and eclectic. However, before I can lead the cheering from the bleachers, we all need to give great credit to our historical forefathers. Like Abraham wandering through the deserts of Canaan, on a spiritual quest, like Moses standing atop Mount Sinai, we all need to give props where props are due. In this particular post I want to re-focus on the mythological Def Jam label and its many Jews. Actually, like Moses holding the tablets with his insanely pronounced beard, Rick Rubin came down from the mountain top giving us the Def Jam imprint we all know and love.
Rick Rubin created the Def Jam logo out of his NYU dorm room. He made sure to emphasize the true grit behind a real live rap performance. Instead of the cookie cutter rap music that was being produced in the early 1980’s, (Yes, they made throw away rap records as early as 1980) Rubin wanted to emphasize the raw abilities of the rappers on record. However, he was not the main art director, as he stuck to producing some of the classic rap masterpieces for Def Jam. It was the work of another Jew that brought us the visual aspects through photography, and through the immortal album covers we all keep deep in the vaults of our brains.
This artist, Glen E. Friedman, of many talents has captured some of the most amazing images of the Def Jam roster, and beyond. He captured some of the best and most poignant moments, characterized through the use of black and white film to show the truth behind the color.
Originally born in North Carolina, he later moved to California and would be an integral part of captivating what we know as the skate boarders of Dog Town, made famous by the the recent documentary (where he played a large part in its production and execution) Dog Town and Z-Boys. He took most of these memorable photos, showing the skaters in action, riding in the empty pools as he bent over backwards to capture some magnificent shots.
It was here in the land of lost angels where he first met the Def Jam crew, coming for a round of concerts by the Beastie Boys.
He met the Beasties, but he also met Russell “Rush” Simmons and Rick Rubin, and as they say the rest is Hip-Hop history. However, it should be known that Glen E. Friedman was, and remains, such a diverse artist that he also felt akin to the growing punk scene in California, as well as all over the country.
He captured these amazing minutes of performance by the band Black Flag, and this was the Henry Rollins era so extra crisp with that dirt.
Of course he was not limited to any one act, he caught other amazing acts like the killer straight edge combo Fugazi.
He also caught some shots of the great New Jersey punk band the Misfits, and of course their lead singer Danzig!
Still, it was Friedman who also captured some of the best shots of rap music’s immortal untouchables, at least to my generation. These were the legends, who still remain very relevant, although it depends to which generation.
The shots of the hit makers of the era, as well as the young up-and comers who were ready to eat the competition for lunch….like Kool Moe Dee?
I feel like I’m promoting but you should all look up his website and make sure to look at all the amazing photos. He also has some interesting meetings of the celebrity minds…..like,
And……of course the Beasties with another famous Jew (Who was also born in Israel)….
And, as I wrote in a blog of day’s past that it was Glen, a Jew, who shot most of Public Enemy’s early publicity shots, and designed their album covers like It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back…
He has also been a part of the political protest movements, and does not shy away from political figures, at least the more fiery brand….
And, in the present we can also admire the great photos he took of the pioneers who are no longer with us for some reason or another….
RIP and Z’L Buffy the Human Beat Box….
RIP and Z’L to Jam Master Jay, you were taken too early….and
RIP and Z’L to MCA, keep the cosmos and the nether regions of space pumping!!!
The very talented Mr. Friedman was there, and as I write of these Jews who were so deeply ingrained in Hip-Hop, I want to point out how the genesis of Hip-Hop was so multi-faceted that we should make sure to research all the people who made this all possible.
Mad love and much Respect….