by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2004-11-12
Jewish rapper Remedy
Jews have always played an important part of the musical and business development of hip-hop and rap, from Tom Silverman and his Tommy Records through to Rick Rubin and his production work with the likes of Run DMC and the Beastie Boys.
But when it came to Jews actually doing hip hop and rap with a Jewish flavour, it has been pretty poor but amongst the ghastly Jews who rap, are the Jews who really do rap and they can rap well.
Celebrate Hip Hop from CraignCo for the most part seems to get the balance right in Jewish performers who cover Jewish issues and themes without resorting to cheap gimmicks or laughs.
This CD is packed with some great tracks from Jewish performers across the globe, be it the USA, UK, Canada and Israel. And they sing in English, Hebrew and Spanish.
There are a few weaker tracks but for the most part this album is 90% there in delivering the essential collection of Jewish hip-hop.
CD opener are Latino Jewish band Hip Hop Hoodios with their Chanukah celebration song Ocho Kandelikas, we then move onto Israeli rapper Mook E with a killer track Cross The Bridge.
From the US next comes Brimstone127 with a very credible track I'm Guessing.
Moving on we are presented with Sagol 59 from Israel and the song Big Ben. Sung in Hebrew with some great production work.
Old school Blood of Abraham make an appearance with Only The Wise. During the early 90s, these guys defined Jewish hip-hop and its great to see them on this CD.
Solomon & Socalled is a UK/Canadian project from Sophie Solomon (UK) and Socalled (Canada) who have taken klezmer tracks and gave them a fresh feel. The track used here is HipHopkele.
UK outfit Emunah deliver Sweetness of their own EP. Very much a UK flavour very similar in style to The Streets in terms of how vocals are delivered. They do show that UK Jews can hold their own against their US cousins.
Russian Jewish hip-hop is represented by iSQUAD with the awesome History. naturally it is sun totally in Russian and really have a great groove to it.
No Jewish hip-hop would be credible without a track from the legend that is Remedy. The Wu-Tang-Clan collaborator offers the track Muslim and A Jew from his mighty Code Red album. Remedy is probably the finest Jewish rapper and this Staten Island American keeps his music and lyrics totally real.
Etan G offers South Side From the Synagogue from his album of the same name. This yamulka wearing rapper mixes his Jewish upbringing with rap.
Hyim, a Californian musician mixes various influences and offers Get Your Head Out which is a cool laid back track.
Ending the album is UK-based Antihesis with a track called Just Peace who raps about the history of Jews and Israel.
Overall, Celebrate Hip-Hop does exactly what is says which is celebrating Jewish hip-hop.
Listening to the tracks some artists are so much obviously musically, lyrically and vocally stronger than others, but even the weaker tracks, which are Just Peace and South Side of the Synagogue, they do blend in well as the strong tracks and performers help bring up those who are not as strong as them.
It's also pleasing to hear UK music from Emunah and Russian work from iSQUAD which shows that they can make a claim to good Jewish hip-hop and it doesn't have to be American.
Buy this album and be amazed at the sheer diversity of Jewish hip-hop music and for the most part you will be very happy with what you hear.