Israeli Rap and Hip Hop: A Voice of the Youth

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Israeli Hip Hop is a genre of music that has gained recent popularity. Israeli Hip Hop or known as “Rap” has gained recent popularity among the Israeli youth. A lot of the lyrics that Israeli Rappers use can be used as a platform for Israeli teenagers. It helps give them a voice. This is important because there are a lot of current political issues that Israel is facing. This platform helps the youth stay involved. Israeli Hip Hop doesn’t have a lot of popularity over here in the United States, and many people haven’t even heard of it. Israeli Rappers have trouble getting on radio stations and being heard in other countries because of all the other popular artists there are around the globe. When researching Israeli Rap, there are a lot of questions somebody may have about it. Many people would ask questions (s) like: Who are the artists? What kind of Hip Hop are these artists making? How did it get popular? And How did it start? All of these questions are totally relevant when learning about a new genre of music. Israeli Rap has a very unique founding and the music that is made is very unique.

Israeli Hip Hop started to gain popularity in the 1990s. There isn’t one real founding father of Israeli Hip Hop, but we do give Liron Teeni some credit for making the genre of music popular. He was able to make the lyrics of hip hop into the mother tongue of Hebrew. A lot of the artists today have made Israeli Hip Hop even more popular. And the genre of music now is more popular than it has ever been. “Yair Nitzani, who was an Israeli rock artist, made an old school hip hop album that was based on East Coast American Hip Hop.” There were also other artists who started to jump in after they heard that Israeli Hip Hop was being made. These artists that started to convert were Israeli Rock artists. A lot of Israeli Rap music has been influenced by American rap artists. The Popular Israeli Rock band named Shabak Samech started to rap in Hebrew in 1995, and their greatest influence was The Beastie Boys who performed in Israel in 1995. Some of their listeners were not so fond of the music that they were making. People thought that rapping in Hebrew did not sound as good. Shabak Samech continued to produce Israeli rap music in order to try and raise the popularity of Israeli Hip Hop. Shabak Samech has been credited as being one of the first Israeli Hip Hop groups, and they are given credit for making Israeli Hip Hop popular.

While researching Israeli Hip Hop I noticed that there have been some similarities between United States Hip Hop and Israeli Hip Hop. That shouldn’t be a surprise because a lot of Israeli Hip Hop is based on American Rap. A lot of the beats that are used sound the same, but the message trying to be perceived is a bit different than rap in America. Israeli Hip Hop lyrics often contain messages regarding the situation of the country, spirituality, or politics. In America, we do see some Hip Hop music regarding politics. 2Pac was a rapper who really tried to send a political message and bring up societal issues in his music. We have seen the rapper Childish Gambino make his song ‘This Is America’, which gathered a lot of publicity around America and the globe. We have seen it with other rappers but it isn’t common to have rap music containing a whole lot of politics within them. “The Israeli government actually really backs the Israeli Rap Movement and is happy with the popularity the genre has within the youth of Israel.” The government of Israel also supports Israeli Rap groups who travel outside of the country to perform, as they want the rest of the world to know about Israeli rap and the movement. Some Israeli Rappers do include political issues that go on to topics like child abuse and some of the other problems that are happening in Israel. A lot of Israeli Hip Hop does contain messages of what it is like living in Israel and growing up there. That is definitely something that can relate to American Rap Music. Many American rappers in their lyrics express some of the hardships of growing up in America and living in the ghettos, which can relate to Israeli rap.

A lot of Israeli Rappers do have a problem getting their names out there. It is hard for Israeli Rappers to get their music heard over here in America, just because of how popular Hip Hop is here in America. Israeli Hip Hop artists also have a hard time trying to get their music on the radio. This is mainly due to some of the controversial topics that they rap about. It is mainly pop and disco music that is played on the radio, but they are working to get Hip Hop into the mix. Around the time that Israeli Hip Hop was getting popular, the radio stations denied them and would refuse to play their music. We saw a similar setting here in America, a lot of radio stations wouldn’t play them because of some of the controversial lyrics that the music possessed. The radio stations in Israel did not believe that Hip Hop/Rap music made people feel good, therefore they did not play their music. Personal opinion I never heard of Israeli rap until one of my friends actually told me about it. Then you have to look up who the artists are because you have never here of Israeli rap on the radio or in the media. But I believe that since Israeli Rap is very popular amongst the youth in Israel if they would play the music on the radio more, it would attract younger listeners.

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One of the more popular Israeli Rappers goes by the name of Ori Comay. But in Israel, everyone knows him by his stage name Dudu Faruk. “Dudu Faruk is best known for his hit songs King David (Arak, Arak, Arak) and Black Belt (in smoking hookah).” In Israel, Dudu Faruk is nothing less than a household name. “He was named the in Israel in 2018 to go along with his blossoming rap career. Dudu Faruk is currently 23 years of age.” While he attended Lady Davis high school in the north of Tel Aviv, he made a parody Instagram account with the name of Dudu Faruk. Over time he kept making videos of him rapping and the account started to get him a lot of attention. “Today Faruk has acquired millions of views on YouTube. One of his hit songs Black Belt (in smoking hookah) has over 2.7 million views on YouTube. His other song King David (Arak, Arak, Arak) has over 6.3 million views on YouTube in only 9 months of it being posted.” His style of rap is considered to be more of southern hip-hop. Some American rappers who are southern-style rappers are Gucci Mane, T.I., and Ace Hood.

Another Israeli Rapper who has started to climb the charts is a man by the name of Ravid Plotnik, also known as Nechi Nech. “Ravid Plotnik was born in Petah Tivika, Central District, Israel. Nechi Nech was inspired by one of his childhood idol rappers Subliminal.” Subliminal is also another famous Israeli rapper. “In August of 2011, Necchi Nech dropped his first album by the name of 'Tsadik Ehad Be'Sdom'”. The album ended up not doing very well. In the next couple of years, Nechi Nech decided to release another album by the name of 'Bor Ve'Am Ha'Haretz: Bur Ve'Am Ha'Aretz'. Unlike the first album that he released, this album did very well and landed Nechi Nech on the top Israeli Hip Hop charts. This album also was able to put him on tour in many Israeli cities. The lyrics that go along with his music give you a lot to think about. In one of his songs called Lif’anium, his lyrics question the process of divine election and also rail out against the deadening impact of social media. His style of rapping reminds me a lot of the rapper Logic here in America. Some of his songs are more of a laid-back style for the most part. Reminds me of an east coast kind of hip-hop.

The last artist that I would like to discuss is the Israeli Rapper Subliminal. Ya'akov 'Kobi' Shimoni is his birth name. “Also born in Tel Aviv Israel, to a Persian Jewish mother and Tunisian Jewish father, Subliminal started to record and perform music at the age of 12.” In 1995 Subliminal and Yoavi Elias began to perform at Israeli Night Clubs. These nightclubs had an audience that had a genuine interest in Israeli Hip Hop music. This is all happening at the beginning of the Israeli Rap era. Their music was catching popularity among the youth, and not long after they released their first album “The Light From Zion”. Within the lyrics of Subliminal, you will find that he stays away from referring to drugs and smoking. I think that is a really good thing to do, especially when your music is popular among the youth. Here in America, we see a lot of references to drugs and smoking, in rap music, and we know that rap music is very popular among the youth here in America. Through his lyrics, Subliminal tries to find ways to inspire a new generation, to help bonify a unified Israel. Subliminal is seen during his concerts wearing a large Star of David chain necklace. Many believe that Subliminal’s lyrics have helped give Israeli teens a platform to display their outrage on state affairs within their country. Overall Subliminal has helped inspire many Israeli teens and has even inspired new generations of Israeli Rappers. Subliminal is one of the great pioneers of Israeli Hip Hop.

One very important Israeli Rap Group that had a huge part in the starting of Israeli Rap is the group Shabak Samech. “Shabak Samech is recognized as the first Israeli Hip Hop group. They are commonly compared to the Beastie Boys here in America.” The group primarily does Hip Hop music, but some of their music compares to rapcore, dancehall, ska, and funk. “The group consisted of having two vocalists, a drummer, and a bassist.” Because of the unique sounds of the group, they were able to distance themselves up the charts of the Israeli Rap groups. Being that their music was happening in 1992, right around the beginning of Israeli Rap, they are given a lot of credit for helping make Israeli Rap popular. “The name Shabak is an acronym which translates to the Hebrew acronym for the Internal General Security Service of Israel.” It is also noted that the acronym is spelled incorrectly. Overall Shabak Samech is known for being one of the original Israeli Hip Hop groups and was the pioneer in getting Israeli Hip Hop to the popularity that it is today.

Israeli Hip Hop is important for the youth culture in Israel and gives the youth, and the general population a voice. Many of the rappers have social and political issues that they rap about, and try to bring attention to the things that are going on in Israel. Israeli Rap is very comparable to the rap that we have here in America. A lot of American rappers try to use their voices in order to make a statement. It is a platform that is used to express the voices of the youth. Before researching this subject I didn’t know a lot about Israeli Rap. I asked a friend who knew a little bit about it, and he showed me a couple of songs and a couple of different artists that I should look up. I learned that Israeli Rap is very derived from American Rap and a couple of different genres of music. I learned a lot about the different Rappers and Rap groups that derive from Israeli Rap. I hope to see Israel Rap gain even more in popularity. It seems as of now that it isn’t the most popular form of music in the entire country of Israel, it is mainly popular among the youth of Israel. I believe that the music is popular enough to get on the radio, and derives more recognition than it is getting. The Israeli government has been helpful in trying to get Israeli Rap artists into different countries to try and promote the music. I hope that eventually, Israeli Rap grows beyond just Israel.

Sources

  1. Leibovitz, Liel. “Israeli Rap for Grown-Ups: Nechi Nech, Hebrew's Greatest Hip-Hop Star, Releases New Masterful Album.” Tablet Magazine, 21 June 2017, www.tabletmag.com/scroll/238310/israeli-rap-for-grown-ups.
  2. “Shabak Samech.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabak_Sa
  3. “Subliminal (Rapper).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Sept. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subliminal_(rapper).
  4. Hartman, Ben. “Israel's Most Famous Trap Rapper and German Condom Spokesman Ain't Done Yet.” The Times of Israel, 17 Jan. 2019, www.timesofisrael.com/israels-most-famous-trap-rapper-and-german-condom-spokesman-aint-done-yet/.
  5. “Israeli Hip Hop.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Nov. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_hip_hop.
  6. “Dudu Faruk.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Oct. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dudu_Faruk.
  7. “Ravid Plotnik.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Nov. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravid_Plotnik.
  8. “Shabak Samech.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabak_Samech.
  9. Ben-Ari, Nirit. “Israeli Hip-Hop: All Flow, No Edge?” Haaretz.com, 10 Apr. 2018, www.haaretz.com/israeli-hip-hop-all-flow-no-edge-1.52020
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Israeli Rap and Hip Hop: A Voice of the Youth. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/israeli-rap-and-hip-hop-a-voice-of-the-youth/
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