A Very Yiddish Hip-Hop Passover

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Everything old is new again! JOI is always interested in new and innovative expressions of Judaism, and Canadian musician Josh Dolgin, aka “DJ So Called,” has found his own unique path to connect to his Jewish heritage. He’s created a radical new genre of music — Yiddish Hip-Hop Klezmer — and just released a cd of reimagined Passover songs using this unique style. You can hear samples here.

What’s so creative about So Called’s style is that it is true to the roots of both parts of this musical equation. Hip-hop is about reappropriating “classic” funk and soul vocals, rhythms, and riffs, bringing them up to date with a modern feel. The modern Klezmer and Yiddish revivals do exactly the same thing with traditional Jewish culture. They find ways to make the “old” styles speak to modern Jews. The effect of both these “movements” in African-American and Jewish culture is best captured in Dolgin’s own words: “It’s not a revival anymore - because it’s alive.” In this article from the Forward, “Dolgin noted that historically, Yiddish was often used to create offbeat art: ‘When Jews came to America, their language was Yiddish. And it was the Yiddish folk language of these people, who were funky people. We were musicians, actors, jesters and writers!’”

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