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Funky Ass Jew

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2004-06-09

Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys

A SomethingJewish writer recently came to me all excited and breathless announcing: "I've heard the new Beastie Boys album To The 5 Boroughs and its great. And best of all there's some Jewish references."

When I heard that, it seemed as if the Beastie's were coming home - after nearly 20 years of waiting, the New York trio have finally "come out". We all know they are Jewish, or have a strong Jewish connection, but never have they been so public about it in their music or indeed public about it at all.
"I'm a funky ass Jew and I'm on my way" - Yes, this is the Beastie Boys rapping on the album and yes this is the Beastie Boys own words.
Make no mistake, Funky Ass Jew is good and well needed in this day and age.  Funky Ass Jew sung by them will inspire and be adopted by Jews across the world. It's totally positive, it's an expression of pride regardless of religious background and it's the slogan for the new Jew generation.
From what I've heard online, To The 5 Boroughs is sheer delight, musically excellent and when you start putting in the Jewish references you end up with something that every Jewish household should own.
Sure there are expletives galore, but the boys have delivered something that all Jews should be proud of, an album with Jewish references that are positive and fun, references that non-Jews will ask about and give an opportunity for explanation.
The Beastie Boys' adoption of something Jewish in their lyrics is the culmination of nearly two years of the rise of "cool Jew" which started in New York with bands like Golem and solo artists like Remedy and graduated to film releases like The Hebrew Hammer which showed that Jews don't need to be cast as downtrodden characters and can infact be the hero.
To the 5 Boroughs will be spoken about for months to come on every Friday night Jewish table and will inspire counltess conversations about what other Jewish references can be found on it.
The Beastie Boys have brought home the importance of being Jewish - it doesn't have to be in your face to be a success, it doesn't have to be worn all the time.  They have shown that subtle is good and by not being in your face, can actually work better.
Young Jews without real role models unlike other ethnic communities, have always had empathy with the Beastie Boys, with their lastest album, the Beastie Boys have given something back to the community that has supported them.
The new Jew generation likes its role models to be real and postive. The Beastie Boys are funky ass Jews we can all be proud of.