If the death this weekend of Adam Yauch, 47—the Beastie Boys founder, nicknamed MCA—was not enough, today came another blow: the death of Maurice Sendak, at 83. Both were Jewish artists, pioneers in their respective genres, and both were Brooklyn-born. That they were born some 35 years apart, and came from worlds quite diff
A couple of weeks ago, a Passover rap video—all in Hebrew, and with beat-boxing—went viral. It featured two fairly typical looking American Jews dressed up as Pharaoh, Moses, and a sleuth of other biblical characters. Then there were scenes of a Jewish girl in an Israeli-flag bikini; the two main singers playing poker in a retirement community; and then them again, rapping on a beach lined with skyscrapers. I thought, Wait, I know that place: Florida.
It used to be the case that when you mentioned Jews and hip-hop, it was Jews who did the producing, and blacks who did the rapping. That’s changed. Now every rap great still living—which is to say, most—are running things: Jay-Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne are all producing giants. While Jews, on the other hand, are rapping: forget Matisyahu (but him too), there’s Drake and Mac Miller and, to my surprise, even DJ Drama.