5tjt y-love

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From The Ghetto To The Shtetl: An Interview With Hip-Hop Artist Y-Love BY SAMUEL SOKOL Swaying to sharp, syncopated rhythms, a small group of American yeshiva students sat entranced, listening to a live preview of the latest mix tape from emerging hip-hop star Y-Love. As a bearded bochur sat beat-boxing, YLove, whose real name is Yitz Jordan, frenetically rapped in a mix of Aramaic, Hebrew, and Yiddish. This private concert in the home of Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim program director Rabbi Juda
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  BY SAMUEL SOKOL Swaying to sharp, syncopatedrhythms, a small group of Americanyeshiva students sat entranced, listeningto a live preview of the latest mix tapefrom emerging hip-hop star Y-Love. As a bearded bochur  sat beat-boxing, Y-Love, whose real name is Yitz Jordan, fre-netically rapped in a mix of Aramaic,Hebrew, and Yiddish.This private concert in the home of  Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim programdirector Rabbi Judah Mischel was part of Jordan’s current Israel tour.Jordan’s music was called the “sound-track to social progression” by the hip-hop magazine URB. So how does such anact end up in the living room of a rabbi,performing for boys who spend all day engrossed in the Torah? Yitz Jordan is a convert to Judaism, a Yiddish speaking, black hat wearing, African-American who has beendescribed as “making hip-hop kosher.”Rabbi Mischel explained that he“wanted [my] talmidim to understandthat individuality and ‘out of the box’ cre-ative expression can flourish within theboundaries of  halacha .”The rabbi said that the students were“moved by Y-Love’s life story and choic-es, and inspired by how he uses hisindividual kochos hanefesh (talents) toserve G-d.”Jordan first began rapping whilestudying in Yeshivat Ohr Sameach inJerusalem.“Hip hop …for me growing up was justsomething on the radio… I was neverinto underground hip-hop until yeshiva.Igrew up listening to punk rock andheavy metal.”“I wasn’t really connecting to[Gemara], until one day… [my  chavruta ]just dropped a beat and starts with a lit-tle chorus and… that became my style of learning.”He ran into opposition in the  Beis Midrash, but he stands by his style.“Some of the bochurim were like ‘Ohthis is so  goyish .This is like shatnes ;how could you bring this into such aholy place? It’s such a  goyish style of music.’”“We went from the intermediate pro-gram to the beis midrash program in oneand a half  z’manim and I still rememberthe Gemaras that I learned back thenbecause we learned it to a beat.”He said that the style of learning doesnot matter, but that the main thing is tointernalize the Torah in the head and inthe heart.What began as a tool for Torah study eventually morphed into a career.Jordan had always wanted to beJewish. When he was seven years old hesaw a commercial on television wishing viewers a happy Passover. He says that atthat moment he wanted to be Jewish.He explained that, at first, there was nointellectual component. As Jordan put it,he was not yet able to tie his shoes, how-ever, he knew that there was a group of people called Jews, and that he wanted tobe one of them. His grandmother, whogrew up serving as a shabbos goy and play-ing with Jewish children, also had anintense interest in Judaism.Jordan began drawing six pointed starsall over the house and later began wear-ing a kippah and tzitzis .“I spent seven years of my life wearinga yarmulke and tzitzis ,pressed up againstthe glass, wanting to be Jewish for sevenyears, and it took that long before Iwould go up to New York to find a beisdin and convert.”Currently following Sepharadiminhag-im, Jordan converted in Borough Park andstill dresses in a chassidic style. He is alsoafluent Yiddish speaker. He now lives onLong Island.During his Beit Shemesh show, Y-Loveexplained to the students how importantit is to appreciate being born Jewish“If people even realize that beingborn Jewish is like being born with aplatinum credit card that you can’t readthe expiration date on, you’ve got twochoices, you can either lie to yourself and tell yourself that the card already expired, or you can max it out and that’s 24 October 30, 2009 5 TOWNS JEWISH TIMES From The GhettoTo The Shtetl: An Interview WithHip-Hop Artist Y-Love P     h      o   t       o   B        y   M   i      k       e    S      o   h     n     5TOWNS JEWISH TIMES October 30, 2009 25 what people need to do.”“Judaism is the hottest thing ever.Torah’s the hottest thing ever,” heexclaimed. Asked if he views his music as a toolfor kiruv ,Jordan responded that “Every Jewish performer, somewhere insidetheir heart of hearts, wants to write thesong that’s going to achieve one hundredpercent affiliation in the Jewish world.Everybody wants to do that.  Kiruv ’snowhere near the central purpose of my music, but everybody wants that. Every   frum performer wants to write that trackthat makes the world  frum .“But for me, my underlying messageofeverything is that all prejudice isdestructive. Unity has got to be the way that humanity’s going to be workingtowards if it’s going to survive, not justprosper.” Y-Love’s sound is not only appreciatedby young Jews. He has a sizable followingin the gentile world.“This one non-Jewish guy fromLouisiana fell in love with my song‘Mehadrin rhymin’, which is like twothirds in Aramaic. Towatch this guy fromLouisiana try to sing in Aramaic, I triednot to laugh…”While Jordan expressed his admirationfor such traditional Jewish performers asLipa, he also expressed hope that Jewishmusic would evolve from “justconsist[ing] of trumpets and little boys.” Y-Love is one of several acts signed tothe  frum Shemspeed record label. He col-laborates with such other Jewish hip-hopartists as Diwon and DeScribe, a Chabadchassid. Hehas also produced remixeswith Israelis such as the ethnic/worldperformer Idan Rachel.Full of positive vibes and singing amessage of hope, Jordan did express onepet peeve during his concert. When askedabout how he writes his music, he repliedthat he is ”upattwo in the morning whenit comes to write lyrics and I got Gemarasout, I’mlooking online, I got Wikipediaopen, I got Hebrewbooks.org…all theseHebrew websites… Soulja Boy comes upwith ‘woo”and goes platinum. I can’t beas stupid as you gotta be to sell.”The bochurim responded with raucouslaughter. Y-Love’s message of unity is not justsomething theoretical. He experiencedintense racism during his conversionprocess. He hopes that by breaking downbarriers between Jews, he can make theworld a better place. O “Judaism is thehottest thingever. Torah’sthe hottestthing ever,” heexclaimed.
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