Part the Red Sea! Jews bring chutzpah to the rap game

As odd of a mixture of Jews and rap might be, it works! This list is living proof that from reggae to frat rap, Jews have added chutzpah to the genre since its inception.


An Ashkenazi Jew from New York, Matisyahu blends traditional Jewish themes with reggae and hip hop beats. “Matis,” as his fans nicknamed him,  has made Judaism mainstream. In 2011, he shaved off his Chassidic facial hair to explore his Jewish spirituality. He replaced the dreaded Dreidel song with his original head-bobbing Hanukkah songs “Miracle” and “Happy Hanukkah.” Still no Friday night concerts for this tzitzit and yarmulke wearing gangsta. He keeps holy the Sabbath and keeps kosher. Challah!

Matisyahu will be in Cleveland on September 1 at The House of Blues with Rebelution, Collie Buddz and ZionI as part of The Good Times Summer Tour 2013. More information on our events page.

Mac Miller

Although his Jewish rhymes come more subtly, Mac attacked the rap game with his mix tapes and collaborations with some of the best names in the hip hop industry. With Wiz Khalifa as his mentor, the tattoo-covered, self-taught musician has released seven mix tapes and two studio albums, most recently “Watching Movies with the Sound Off.” Miller found himself along with singer Ariana Grande on the “Billboard Hot 100’s” top 10 list for their duet “The Way.”

If you missed Mac in Cleveland and don’t mind a drive his next closest performance will be August 30 in Chicago before he departs on his European tour.


The “Degrassi” star turned chart-topping artist was born Aubrey Graham in Toronto, Canada to an African American father and white, Jewish mother. He has the flow of Kanye with Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money/Cash Money label to back him up. A former Hebrew school student, Drake is the second artist ever to have his first two top ten hits in the same week with “Best I Ever Had” and “Every Girl” entering at positions 3 and 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list the week on July 4, 2009.

Drake will be in Cleveland October 13 at Quicken Loans Arena. More information on our events page.

Hoodie Allen

Taking his rap name from Jewish actor and screenwirter, Woody Allen, Hoodie Allen has released three EPs from “Bagels and Beats” in 2009 to “Crew Cuts” last February. Originally born Steven H. Markowitz in New York City, Hoodie was frat-rap from the beginning, having met producer RJF during an Alpha Epsilon Pi-hosted party at the University of Pennsylvania, according to MTV. com.

Unfortunately, Hoodie Allen won’t be dropping by Ohio anytime soon. His concert in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 22 is the closest chance you’ll get!

Asher Roth

Roth made his affinity for college life known with his 2009 hit “I Love College.” His frat rap style has led him to release two studio albums and four mixtapes, most recently “The Greenhouse Effect Vol.2” in June. Roth, whose musical influences include Jay-Z and Eminem, is an advocate for the legalization of marijuana.


Son of Belize’s prime minister, Shyne, changed his name from Jamal Michael Barrow to Moses Michael Levi while incarcerated in the early 2000s to reflect his grandmother’s Jewish heritage. Although he was deported from the U.S., he collaborated with Matisyahu in 2010 on his single “Messiah.” In the same year, he was living in Jerusalem as an Orthodox Jew and spent his time learning the Torah and stated that he spends up to 12 hours a day studying it. In 2013, Shyne released a his mixtape “Gangland,” where he criticized Rick Ross’ blasphemous “Black Bar Mitzvah” mixtape.

Action Bronson

What do you get when you mix an Albanian immigrant and Jewish New Yorker? Rapper Action Bronson, who has generated buzz with his June EP “Saaab Stories.” Bronson, born Arian Asllani,  was a a respected gourmet chef in NYC before entering the rap game. With first studio album in the works, Bronson made noise at the 2013 Coachella music festival in March. Get familiar with Action Bronson with his newest mixtape, “Blue Chips 2” set for release in September.


You know we had to include a throwback section! These Jewish rappers helped pave the way for other members of the tribe to achieve fame and get some cash money.

The Beastie Boys

The 80s trio of Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz ooze Jewish heritage just from the sound of their last names. The rap-rock group had seven platinum albums between 1986-2004. They were inducted into CLE’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2012, just the third rap group to enter the Hall, after Run-D.M.C. in 2009 and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 2007.. The following month, MCA died of cancer.

MC Serch

A Queens native, MC Serch is a former member of 3rd Bass, one of the first successful interracial hip hop groups in the 1980s. Born Michael Berrin, MC Serch recorded three studio albums with 3ed base, then launched his solo career with two hit singles: “Here It Comes,” which hit number one on Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks chart, and “Back to the Grill” featuring Chub Rock, Red Hot Lover Tone and Nas. In 2003, Serch hosted Serch In The AM” on Detroit Urban Radio Station FM 98 WJLB and was the first Jewish DJ at the station.

Princess Superstar

I know what you’re thinking—Who? The only rapping lady on our list, Princess Superstar combines hip-hop, electroclash and electronica to make her beats unique. She was born Concetta Kirschner in New York City to a Jewish father and Jewish-convert mother. Her 2001 single “Bad Babysitter” was #11 on the UK charts.

Larry King?

It’s true! The 79-year-old news anchor teamed up to “break ground as a Jewish rap star” with the help of rapper Snoop Dogg, recently reincarnated as Snoop Lion. RAWR!

Leave a Reply