Today on Nextbook, I wrote an article about the brilliant Motown funk of the Israeli colony of Dimona, a Hasidic hip-hop duo with their own soul band, and Matisyahu’s new opening act, who isn’t Jewish (actually, he’s from Somalia, currently residing in Toronto) but whose name, K’naan, sort of has a Biblical ring to it, and whose mind-bogglingly good song “In the Beginning” definitely does. Click here to download the track, or listen to a bunch of stuff and read the whole article:
Dimona is a small village in the Negev, half an hour south of Beersheva. Itâ€™s an incredibly small town, less than three square miles, and since itâ€™s in the middle of the Israeli desert, it doesnâ€™t get much in the way of tourists. Mostly, Dimona is known for two things: its nuclear power plant, and its community of Black Hebrews, a group of African-American Ã©migrÃ©s who left Chicago, followed the revolutionary leader Marcus Garvey to Liberia, and ended up immigrating en-masse to Israel in the late 1960s.
The community is featured sporadically in Jewish newspapers, mostly as a wacky story about unconventional Israeli immigrants. The thing most reporters donâ€™t usually write about, however, is the town of Dimonaâ€™s unlikely profusion of pop and soul singles in the 1970s.