We have witnessed an incredible boom in the alternative Jewish music segment in the past decade and today there are dozens of “new” genres within JM. Until the 90’s, a few yeshivish singers dominated JM and there wasn’t much action in the alternative genres. Today there’s JM for all tastes – rock (example: Blue Fringe), acapella (Six13), reggae (Matisyahu), mizrachi (Chaim Israel), techno and many more.
I think this phenomenon is great, since we can now listen to music that is more contemporary and original, rather than just listening to the same old sound.
But I wonder where you draw the line between what is acceptable as JM and what’s not. Someone emailed me a video clip of JewDa, a hip-hop singer that made teshuva through Chabad not long ago. He was a hip-hop aficionado since his teen’s and although he made teshuva he still wanted to continue his path as a hip-hop singer. The result can be seen in the clip, and I must say I was open-eyed after I saw the video. He looks exactly like a rapper, with a Miami Heat shirt, rapper cap and dancers jumping all-over the screen. I couldn’t’ understand a word of what he said. So I wonder – is this Jewish Music?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a close-minded JM fan who only listens to MBD and Shwekey. I like Matisyahu and many other “alternative” singers like Aron Razel and Chaim David. I like good music, even if it’s not what I’m used to hear. But JewDa for some reason sounded over the fence to me.
Which brings me to my next question, what is the definition of Jewish Music? How can you determine if a song is part of Jewish Music umbrella?
I don’t really now the answer, but I just feel that there’s a limit of how far can a singer go when singing a Jewish song. And JewDa seems to be just past it.