The Jewish Rapper
Etan G, originally of Baltimore, has a message to throw out to the masses, Jew or non-Jew. His CD, South Side of the Synagogue, busts out lyrics such as “The influx of wisdom is not by chance/ Cuz nothing, my friends, is happenstance” and “So now during the daytime I got my leather straps/And at nighttime I got a mic for my raps.”
I never fit in to any “group” of Jews: either I was too Jewish for the Reform and Conservative groups or not Jewish enough for the Orthodox. I came to the realization at a young age that it wasn’t about fitting in – I had to develop a relationship with G-d and be the best person I can be and do what I am supposed to. It is this philosophy that affects my work, this “I have to represent Judaism positively and fun” vibe that permeates my album.
I get an unbelievably positive response from Jews and non-Jews alike. The most common response I get is “I really don’t like rap music but your album is so great and so much fun to listen to.” The second most common response is “My kids listen to it all the time so I need another copy for myself.”
In “Psalm 150,” you don’t stray far from the original. Are you religious? Are the best lyrics in the Bible?
I am an observant Jew. I do the best I can with the Torah that I’ve learned over the years. It influences my rapping in that I don’t use swear words in my raps and don’t need to discuss things like “booty.” There are enough rappers who do that. The best inspiration is from the Bible and the psalms, although the translations are very dated and Shakespearean. More modern translations are a bit more accessible but I don’t change the meaning of the words.
I love rapping and performing and will continue to do it until I am physically unable to.