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BALTIMORE JEWISH TIMES QUESTIONS/ANSWERS
How does it feel to be performing in your home town?
It's the best! The first thing I do when after I land at BWI is drive by my old house on Seven Mile Lane - one day it will be mine again. But the coolest thing about coming home is that many of the kids that come to the show, who are huge fans, are actually the children of my closest friends, who I've known all my life in Baltimore. I love telling them the stories of their parents when they were younger and there are some doozies!
Where did you grow up in Baltimore?
Well considering I was voted most likely to never grow up it is nice to come back home and show everyone I still haven't grown up.
Do you consider this your "real job?"
Well, I've been touring for about 6 years and although my mother may not consider this a real job, the IRS definitely does. Performing, writing, recording, as well as the other sides of music are what I do, and it puts food on my shabbos table.
How did you get your start in music?
My parents would take me to NCSY Chanukah concerts at Beth Tfiloh. At 7 years old, when Stanley Miller pulled me on stage to dance with him, and i believe i got my picture in the Jewish Times for that, i recognized that i had to be a part of music somehow. My family also used to take me to the Lyric Opera House every Sunday during the summer and we would see the Baltimore Philharmonic do the Beethoven series and the Mozart series and i was always so mesmerized by the instruments, the sounds they made and how they all sounded together. But singing songs at the Friday night shabbos table allowed me to recognize that music can take you to a higher level. I also volunteered for the Bais Yaakov choir but they didn't let me in. They said my voice was too high.
What do you hope people will take away from your performances?
My new cd "South Side of the Synagogue", Shlock Rock cds, T-shirts, posters, backstage passes etc. - anything that can show my mom that this could be a real job - phone number.
What has been the audience’s response to "Jewish rap?"
As a fan of shlock rock as a teen, they utilized the music I was listening to at the time. I saw the positive impact it had on many of us. It just gave us a connection to Judaism in a different way. As teens we were finding ourselves in the world. We knew we were Jews and proud of it but at the same time were growing up in a secular world. The hybrid that Shlock created let us connect in a different way. In Chasidus, we learn that there are sparks of holiness in everything and that everything is in a neutral state of existence and that it is our job to utilize these things and use them for positive things. For example, on Friday night we drink the kiddush wine in the context of getting closer to G-d. The wine is being made holy, but on Saturday night if you go out to party and you suck down the wine, then you are using it for the opposite. When 10 people drink on Saturday night to party and get their buzz they see a blur of 100 people but when those same 10 people drink on Friday night and get the buzz of Shabbos, then those same 10 see 1 person - they see the oneness of the Jewish people! Those who recognize that what Shlock does, by taking secular music and using it to educate our youth, have only the highest praise for us. Those who don't are simply misguided and have forgotten why the good Lord hooked us up with this great world to begin with.
What inspired you to compose Jewish rap?
You would think it was wonderful that kids could listen to all kinds of music in many genres, but when our Jewish kids were listening to hip hop, I saw that they were embracing the lifestyle of the "characters" that those rappers were playing and I felt there was a void. I wanted to show another lifestyle, that of a Jew. I wanted to help open a door between the 2 worlds, something that the Jews can embrace as their own and relate to, which reflects their own values and views. Rappers talk about what they know, and what I know is what the Jews know. Today the adult world has to recognize that because of the Internet we can't shelter them from the world, rather we have to teach them how to live within the world and still stay connected to their Jewish values.