Francky Perez is a Moroccan-born singer whose songs have topped French charts. Just today he released via YouTube an English version of his French rap song "N'oubliez Jamais"-- Never Forget-- a rap song about... the Holocaust. In the Digital Age, Perez's song-- catchy, short, backed by strong images and a passionate delivery-- might just be the way a new generation of computer-obsessed kids first learns about the Shoah. That's what Perez is hoping, anyway. And his last YouTube video for a FRench charity garnered 1.6 million viewers and counting... so he may indeed be on to something.
I called Perez at his current home in Los Angeles to ask about the English-language "Never Forget."
The project began, he said, after a visit last year to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial in Jerusalem. There Perez saw the image of a young boy in a concentration camp.
"I looked at the kid and he looked exactly like my second son. I had a shock. I needed to do something that expressed what I was feelingt, and I'm someone who uses rap music for therapy."
It took Perez six months to write and produce the music video. Most of the shooting took place in paris, where he used real streets to recreate the roundups that took place there.
Perez himself did not lose family in the Holocaust.
"I am Sephardic," he explained. "But sometimes when I talk to other Jews, I feel they think that being sephardic we don't feel this hell they went through. That's not true. Being Sephardic, I feel this is in my genes as much as an Ashkenazi. I suffer for my people, I feel it in my genes the same pain and suffering, not like the people who went through it, but like all Jews now."
Perez hopes a rap video will educate people in ways books and documentaries can't.
"I want this to go beyond the Jewish community, especially to teenagers," he said. " They learn by heart rap lyrics. Maybe this is the right vector to reach the young generation, through a rap song."
His hope is that educational organzations will help him distribute it to young people, either in DVDs or online.
"I hope its totally respectful to the memory," Perez said.
Watch it. It is.