Israel’s Most Wanted

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Our favorite Israeli M.C. Sagol 59 has a new remix collection out. And JDub Records is giving it away.

sagol 59

Sagol is as close to a heavyweight as you get in Israel. Mobius has called him “the godfather of Israeli rap,” and he’s been around forever, bringing new forms and new innovation to Israeli lyricism — sort of the sabra equivalent of Blackstar or N.W.A. This new collection includes music by heavyweights in the hip-hop world such as US-based DJ Spooky and Tel Aviv-based Ori Shochat, a pretty decent blending of the cultures. In addition to being a hip-hop M.C., Sagol has actively chronicled Israeli hip-hop culture for blogs and newspapers, and he’s been somewhat of an activist for promoting understanding, tolerance, and peace through music. When his American debut album Make Room came out last year, I wrote:

I don’t know how many people will understand every word Sagol says, but I also don’t know how many people understand Eminem’s 10-words-a-second lyrics. To someone whose Hebrew is almost nonexistent, Sagol’s rhymes are every bit as listenable as they are impossible to follow. If I didn’t understand sporadic words like “yiladim” or “shalom” or “Robert DeNiro” – I’m not kidding – it would sound like the nonsense rhymes I make up for my 3-month-old daughter.

Only Sagol’s sound about a hundred times cooler and a thousand times more danceable. I imagine there’s a lot to keep up with lyrically – JDub’s Web site features a convenient translation – but based on pure listenability, the language barrier mostly doesn’t even exist. It doesn’t hurt that producer Yonatan “Johnny” Goldstein frames Sagol’s lyrics with world-music conga drums, toy pianos and some amazing Motown-style soul singing. The swaggering keyboards of the title track will capture the straight-up hip-hop crowd.

If you haven’t heard his album Make Room, well, you’ll be able to remedy that soon. For now, just download this collection.

Photo from Jewschool

Posted on March 2, 2010

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