Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is bringing his passion for Jewish-Muslim relations to the West Coast.
Its six members, known for their mix of funk, hip-hop, rock and reggae, rose to the top of the Israeli charts with smart, biting lyrics that reflect Israeli life and appeal to Israel's growing hip-hop scene. The songs often express a leftist point of view and are critical of everything Israeli.
Miri Ben-Ari, a Grammy Award-Winning violinist, originally from Israel, presents her rendition of the national anthem. titled 'Stand With Me' -- a music video in support of Sen. Barack Obama.
Oded Turgeman, director of the new short film "Song of David," doesn't do things the easy way.
The Chasidic reggae singer's success has bred a whole new kind of dream among Jewish music acts. Even if most of them won't say it, one suspects that every one of them wants to be "the next Matisyahu." Here are three gifted candidates for crossover success:
"Freedom Writers" opens with a montage of scenes from Long Beach two years after the Los Angeles riots. Images of gang life and the neighborhoods where members stage their brutal rites float on a stream of hip-hop sound.
Just south of the 10 Freeway, in a nondescript part of Culver City stands Club Fais Do-Do.
For Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari, doing the unexpected is standard fodder; so it should come as no surprise that her new single, "Symphony of Brotherhood" (featuring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech weaving in and out of an extended string solo) topped the charts just one month after its radio release.
As a 50-year-old white high school teacher, I'm well outside the hip-hop demographic. I can't dance, have increasingly little fashion sense, and can't pull off the permanent scowl required by the true hip-hoppers. But here I am, in the packed and noisy Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, wondering if these two Jewish guys got some innate rhythm sense that I don't. And wondering if I can stand the embarrassing spectacle if it turns out that they don't.
With angry lyrics that court controversy, two multiplatinum albums and a third on the way, his own clothing line, record label, legions of fans and glittering religious jewelry, Subliminal could easily be mistaken for a Jewish P.Diddy.
Jews can dance a mean hora, but when it comes to hip-hop, they aren't known to hold their own -- until now. The Milken Community High School Dance Team swept the open regional Dance Team Competition in Las Vegas and earned a bid to the 2004 National Dance Team Competition of the High School.
When the Milken team qualified to compete in just one category at last year's nationals, they were the first private Jewish school to earn such an honor. By sweeping last month's regionals in the hip-hop, lyrical, medium dance, jazz and officers categories, Milken enters this year's nationals as one of the teams to beat.
Two year ago, when Jeremy Kagan met Yudi Simon, a Chasid, and T.J. Moses, an African American, the young men lived just four blocks from each other in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
"But it may as well have been 50 miles," he said.
Their tenuous relationship is the focus of Kagan's new Showtime movie, "Crown Heights," set around the riots that rocked that mixed neighborhood in August 1991. The fictionalized film will be accompanied by a short documentary, "Increase the Peace," Kagan made about the events and the real life Moses and Simon.
7 Days In The Arts
Hip-Hop music might be cool, funky and ghetto, but DJ Socalled thinks that an infusion of an Yiddish could make it even better.
"Hip-hop is all based on breaks, and the Yiddish theater records have amazing breaks in them, and they are original breaks," said Montreal-based Socalled, who is known as Josh Dolgen when he isn't working the sound sampler. "You never hear anyone do them -- everyone has sampled James Brown breaks, but nobody has sampled these records."
Socalled is going to be bringing his Yiddish-hip-hop-funk-jazz-dance music collage to Los Angeles on Dec. 18, where he will sample the night away at an early Khanike (Yiddish for Chanukah) concert for a new group called Avada.
Oakland-based singer/songwriter Hyim has a Middle East peace proposal he'd like to float: Send 10,000 kids to the region, have a heart-to-heart with their Arab and Israeli counterparts and then get 'em all singing.
Welcome to the next generation of Jewish humor, where beats become borscht in the hip-hop Cuisinart.