Photo: Micha Doman, Chabad
Rapping the Gemara
Photo: Micha Doman, Chabad

Gemara in freestyle

Orthodox Jewish rapper Y-Love was born to non-Jewish parents from Ethiopia and Puerto Rico. A long spiritual journey led him to Judaism, and to hip hop

"We are all connected somehow. If only we realized that everyone comes from the same place and the same source, we would be able to prevent the pollution in this world – not only physically, but also spiritually. We could eradicate hatred," says Orthodox Jewish rapper Y-Love  when asked to describe the idea behind his new single, "Make It" from the "Change" mini-album.


Y-Love, whose real name is Yitzchak Jordan, is himself a connecting link between two worlds. His late parents arrived to the United States from very different parts of the globe – his father was Ethiopian and his mother Puerto-Rican. Although neither of them was Jewish, he started showing interest in the Jewish religion as a child, and converted to Judaism at the age of 21.



In a conversation with Ynet the rapper talked about his childhood in an east Baltimore neighborhood, not far from the slums featured on TV series "The Wire." He said that the sounds of shooting in the street was not a rare thing.


Searching for change. Y-Love and DeScribe


When he was seven he saw an ad on television hat concluded with the words "Happy Passover." He asked his mother what the words meant, and she explained to him as best she could from the little she herself had learned from a Jewish colleague.


When she told her friend at work about her son showing interest in the holiday, the colleague promptly invited the entire family to celebrate a traditional Seder Eve with them.


Rapping the Gemara  

This marked the beginning of Y-Love's relationship with Judaism, which gradually became stronger and stronger. His maternal grandmother was herself very interested in the Jewish religion, apparently because her father's first employers were Jewish, and when he was nine she bought him a menorah for Hanukkah. When he grew older she also got him a kippah, a tzitzit and other Judaica items. He also started attending prayers and studying Torah.


After he converted Yitzchak came to Israel to study at the Or Sameach yeshiva in Jerusalem. His first study partner was a rapper from Long Island who also converted to Judaism. To help themselves memorize sections from the Gemara, the two started rapping entire mishnayot, to the dismay of some of the yeshiva students.


Y-Love recounted that the students complained that the singing was a disgrace, but the two rappers soon advanced to higher levels of studying, proving to their peers that this original method was working.


When they returned to the United States, the two went to an open mike evening at a New York nightclub and got on stage to do what they knew best: Gemara in freestyle. The audience responded enthusiastically, and they ended up giving a two-hour performance. The venue's manager then asked them to perform once a week on a regular basis, and Y-Love has been doing hip-hop ever since.


Y-Love works with the American label Shemspeed , which focuses on Jewish music. His latest work is the mini-album he created with DeScribe (on sale here). Their first single was the album's themes song, "Change." 


פרסום ראשון: 05.19.09, 01:11
 new comment
This will delete your current comment