by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Jewish hip-hop, chassidic rap. Powerful fusion or desecration of holy tunes?
Until When by chassidic musician Prodezra is a fusion of chassidic tunes with modern hip-hop music. Note I said music, not hip-hop lyrics, bling or any other cultural baggage - just the music.
Prodezra specializes in "beats", the musical non-vocal layer of the hip-hop song. Those in the chassidic world would recognize the same non-vocal songs sung as niggunim, songs of the soul. And this is exactly what the artist tries to fuse.
He creates modern hip-hop style beats which are based on chassidic niggunim. The tracks are powerful, bouncing with energy. To varying degrees, they're also hip-hoppy drummy with loops, which in some cases makes for a great energetic treat - in other cases a sound that's just too different for my tastes. Most tracks are vocal / lyrics free. A few create a full chassidic rap Jewish hip hop experience.
Here's my thoughts and/or feelings as I listened to the album...
Track 1 - Excuse Me. A brief rap intro. Here and gone.
Track 2 - Koach. Powerful but very modern. My teenagers like it.
Track 3 - Until When. Great opening, nice depth. Wakes you up.
Track 4 - Change (w/Describe & Y-Love). Modern chassidic Jewish hip-hop song. Cool.
Track 5 - Tribute. Guitar classic rap tribute to righteous women. Eh.
Track 6 - Sound the Alarm. Loud! Brash! Noise! Not my thing.
Track 7 - Ein Ode Milvado. Electronic, piano, meditative. Calming & intriguing.
Track 8 - The Lamplighter. Rappy, shouty, piano, the far edge. Not for me.
Track 9 - One with Him. A rap to Hashem. Why not?
Track 10 - The South Niggun. A niggun fully rap'd out. Almost works, or not.
Track 11 - From Strength to Strength. Chassidic niggun, beat style. Nice!
Track 12 - Stood at Sinai. Chassidic niggun rap. It works.
Track 13 - Masa L'Geulah. Tinkle, melancholy, tears, draws out the soul. Love it.
Track 14 - Change Instrumental. Track 4's background by itself. Cool & strong.
So the verdict, powerful fusion or desecration of holy tunes? Judaism is alive, it grows and moves throughout the cultures of the ages - keeping it's core, it's heart and soul, Torah and commitment to Hashem. But it has also lifted the holy sparks of the societies it has passed through, elevating the best to Hashem.
Are there holy sparks in hip-hop? Does the US inner city culture, with it's extreme excesses of various types also offer a tidbit to be extracted and elevated?
Maybe, just maybe, the answer is yes.
Until When by Prodezra is available here for disc, here for MP3.
Monday, November 09, 2009
// 11/09/2009 //