Antithesis – His Story From the Beginning – Frenzy Magazine
What started you rapping and what event or moment led you down the path to pen ‘Ima Mechaka Babayit’ and ‘Just Peace’ (among others)? Listening to music was never enough for me. I would always picture myself performing the song coming out of my stereo to an engrossed audience. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I started attempting to put this into practise. My first efforts involved taking songs and changing the rappers’ names to my own and the paces referred to to locations more familiar to me (e.g. ‘Straight Outta Kingston’ – doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the original!).
At school it was known that I was into my rap music and there were quite a few of my school friends on tour with me, so this information quickly spread, as at this time it was still relatively unusual. At tour orientation someone (I think jokingly) asked me to write a song for tour which I did and was made to perform by my madrich. It went down well so I did one for the mesibat siyum as well. Then when I got back I wrote a song about tour which I recorded on my computer using the Hip Hop Ejay program. Looking back, it was not very good, and was incredibly cheesy, but no one said that to me at the time so I grew bolder.
Rapping continued with a couple of performances, including at the mesibat siyum again, on KBS (second timers’ programme), and when in 2001 FZY held a song contest to celebrate its 90th anniversary, I decided to enter. The song had to be on a Jewish/Israel theme, and it gave me the motivation to write ‘Just Peace’, a song about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The concept had been banging around in my head for some time, as over the past couple of years I’d been really getting into my hip hop, and had discovered a sub-genre perhaps best described as ‘protest rap’. These songs were not about women, fast cars and money but about real issues. I was particularly moved by a song about the Stephen Lawrence case, and began to wonder if I could do something similar about Israel.
Now that I had committed to entering a competition I actually had to write it! I hooked up with ‘The Baron’ (also known as Wolllace) and knocked some music out on the computers at school. Somewhat controversially, I did not win the competition, but I got a very positive reaction to what was my first serious track and so that gave me a lot of confidence.
A couple of months later, just before going away on FZY Year Course, I heard the father of one of the Israeli soldiers who had been designated ‘Missing in Action’, Chaim Avraham, speak in London. I was very moved and began to think of writing a song about the issue. Again I needed a bit of a kick to get going, and this time it came in the form of a talent show held on Year Course. Then things started getting really exciting…
How has the press affected you, if at all, and have you found it hard to stay focused on your studies at Cambridge? To be honest, I haven’t had so much press coverage just yet [NB this interview actually took place in December so things were a bit different then!], so I don’t think it’s affected me an awful lot! It was very exciting when I saw my picture in Ha’aretz whilst I was on Year Course, and I certainly played it up as much as possible, but I’m hoping for a lot more coverage for my EP when it comes out.
I’ve got big plans for a public relations push, but how much effect it will have remains to be seen. The more that is written about me the more that the issues I am highlighting will be raised, and that is in my opinion the most important thing. Having said that, from a personal perspective it would be nice to get some good publicity, and enable my family to schep some nachas!
Are you hoping to make a career out of rapping or is it merely a hobby? And, any plans to write more commercial raps not connected to Israel, or is that where all your inspiration comes from? What a question! I would love to make a career out of it, but I think I have to be realistic for the time being and not get carried away. At the moment it is very much a hobby, and I have to concentrate on my studies as if there was no possibility of anything like that happening in order to avoid being distracted. Having said that, a lot depends on the reaction to the new EP. I won’t make any money from it, as all profits will go to charity, but if the right people hear it at the right time…who knows?!
I have written raps on subjects not related to Israel, but they won’t be appearing on the EP, as they would be somewhat incongruous with the rest of the content. I do find it harder to write on other subjects, as I just don’t care as much. With Israel the passion is there already. It’s something that I should probably work on, as although Israel is a fantastic place, there’s only so much you can say about it!
Have you come across any racism or negativity due to your label ‘The Zionist Rapper’? Not as yet, but then I’m not very well known at the moment. It will be interesting to see what happens in the event the EP receives some decent publicity. My non-Jewish friends who have heard my stuff have all reacted positively, although one of them did ask if I ever wrote on other topics!
On the other hand, I am reluctant to perform at open mics in Cambridge, as I really don’t know what the reaction might be. I also don’t expect such a hot reception from the hip hop community in the UK, as at gigs you are frequently assailed with anti-American diatribes and those people tend not to like Israel either unfortunately. Like I said, it will be interesting…
Where do you see yourself in ten years geographically and professionally? It’s very hard to say at the moment. I do have some sort of idea of what I want to do with my life over the next seven to eight years, but it could all change and I’m reluctant to put it on record for fear of setting it in stone. I’m trying to decide what I want to do for a career but it’s so hard, as there are so many possibilities each with pros and cons. We’ll see what happens.
One thing I can say is that I would like to live in Israel. Whether that will happen is impossible to say, as who knows what will happen to me in the future? However, at this moment in time, it is definitely something that I want to do.
And finally, where can we get more information about further musical developments and where can we buy your new EP ‘The Israel Question’? Easy! Peep the website at www.antithesismc.com. You can find the latest news, a biography, lyrics, downloads and ordering information. You can also sign up to the mailing list for updates to your inbox.
I’m currently having a lot of hassle getting the last track for the EP recorded, but I’m doing my utmost to get it done. Then we can make a lot of money for charity, and hopefully do some good for Israel. Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the past couple of years!