Death of a Hip-Hop Jew

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It kind of sucks to find out about a great story of someone’s Jewish journey through hearing about their untimely death. Sadly, that is the case today for Yoseph Robinson.

Last night, Yoseph Robinson, born in Jamaica, and a convert to Judaism, was shot and killed in Brooklyn after the kosher wine shop that he worked at was robbed. This is the biography that is posted on his website.

Raised in Spanish Town, Jamaica by his Grandma Pearl, Yoseph Robinson, like most of the island kids, thought of the United States as a kind of utopia. It was a fantasy come true when he and his two sisters were finally able to join his parents in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, New York in 1989. At the age of 12, he exchanged his slower-paced life of mango-picking, fresh water fishing, and swimming for an Americanized one filled with stylized clothes, girls, and worries about being cool enough.

Constant disobedience in school and a strained relationship with his parents during his teenage years led Yoseph to drop out of high school when he was just 16. Influenced by a group of older kids and in need of money, Yoseph entered the world of drug deals, street crime, and violence. His reckless lifestyle took him to the Bronx, Philly, and finally LA, where he invested in a lucrative hip hop label.

But by the time he was 23 years old, Yoseph knew he had to leave the affluent Hollywood scene behind in order to physically and mentally survive. He turned to Judaism as a means to surrender control, accept humility, and educate.

Yoseph persevered through many highs and lows in his lifetime, but converting to Judaism continues to be his most challenging transition by far. His struggles, transformation, and experiences as a black Jewish man in the United States have inspired Yoseph to write a book.

Though Robinson was killed last night, his book, Jamaican Hip Hopper Turn Orthodox Jew, is due out this December. It’s a shame Yoseph wont be around to see it his the stores.

Posted on August 20, 2010

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