The only time my show The Beat was ever pulled off the air was during the 3 Weeks when I played acapella rap. It was a track off the TACT Family All Stars album and what I thought was a creative spoken word hip-hop style piece in Hebrew. I didn’t pay much attention to the words, considering we're an English language station. And no one emailed me about it. The next day Yishai Fleisher looked at me and laughed and shook his head. He told me the lyrics wern't exactly rated PG.
But not all of TACT's stuff is leud. The latest released is called Bat 60 and is a tribute to the State of Israel's 60th anniversary. The song is a collaboration between Subliminal, the most well-known rapper of the TACT Family and its executive producer and The Gevatron, a kibbutz singing group that began in the 1960's.
There is also Home, by SHI 360, which is a tribute to the birthright program that brings young Jewish people to Israel for free. SHI 360's family is Israeli but he grew up in Canada. He made aliyah after having been on a birthright program. He is now a successful musician performing in English, French and Hebrew.
TACT Records has been mailing us CD singles such as these for the past several years. Each one contains 3 tracks; the single, the acapella / vocals only and then the intrumentals only. Why separate them like this? I don't know. Maybe for DJs to mix and mash them. Once I tried to mix and mash Subliminal with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach one year for Purim using these singles. It didn't work out so well and no one emailed me regarding it. Maybe one of you out there can do a better job and email it to me. I'll play it on the radio.
For those of you who love rap music and hate acapella music, acapella rap might just be a breath of fresh air. Most of these singles are not available in the store and mailed only to radio stations and others as promotionals. But I did find most of them for sale on www.israel-music.com. Some notable acapella rap singles I have enjoyed have been from the following:
Gavriel Butler is really a singer not a rapper. He has a kind of an r&b style. He is from the African-American community of Dimona in the south of Israel, sometimes called the Black Hebrews. His brother Eddie Butler was in the singing group Eden and represented Israel in the Eurovision song contest in 2006. Another singer in the TACT Family is Itzhik Shamli who has a kind of Mizrachi - Sephardic style.
One rapper is called Booskills and has a remix of an old 1970s Tzvika Pick song featuring Tzvika Pick's daughters, who kind of resemble Britney Spears. In a previous blog entry I discussed how most young Israelis I know seem to hate Tzvika Pick. I chuckle when I think of this rap remix being the most annoying thing they could conjure up. And finally, HaTzel, or The Shadow, the angry, raspy voiced "hip-hop Tzioni (Zionist)" who has a new full length CD which depicts a Jewish star with a middle finger in the inside cover. I guess it's kind of a 2008 hip-hop version of the old JDL symbol.
In other acapella news, Shabak Samech the Israeli rap metal band from the mid 1990s (before rap-metal was popular) has an acapella version of one of their songs. And I found an acapella Yemenite song by David Dor, but not the David Dor from the 1990s, the one from the 1970s who released an album of haunting and classic Jewish Yemenite melodies.
And finally, the ultimate Jewish acapella rapper is Y-Love who last year released an all acapella album featuring beatboxing. The songs are mostly in English from a religious orthodox perspective. I have a full interview with him in the upcoming issue of Shiur Times, so keep a look out. Here is a 3-weeks-friendly video of Y-Love rapping the Purim song.