Building bridges with Jewish rap.
He hangs out with hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion) and Rick Ross, but also proudly sports a yarmulke and Star of David necklace.
“Fusing the world of rap and Judaism is something I’ve always done,” says Rami Even-Esh, a Jewish hip-hop artist whose better-known alter ego is “Kosha Dillz.” “My whole career is about being a Jewish, pro-Israel rapper.”
The Israeli-born New Jersey native has been in the music industry since 2005, and has two hip-hop albums out on the market through Modular Moods label, but as of last year, he’ll go down in history as the only person to ever to rap in Hebrew at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Hip Hop Awards.
Currently based in Los Angeles, Even-Esh has performed with big names like Wu Tang Clan, Matisyahu, C-Rayz Walz and Yak Ballz, and has hit the stages of big festivals like Sundance, South by SouthWest, and Hot 97’s Summer Jam.
His music career kicked off after he beat a drug addiction and served some jail time: “Kosha” got clean at the age of 22, and joined the free-style battle scene before touring the country doing small gigs. Even-Esh says his music reflects his life’s story, which is an eclectic mix of street affairs and a complicated route to finding his Jewish roots.
“I think people see me being myself and this is what I’m about,” he said. “Kids come out to my show and see how proud I am to be a Jewish artist; they think it’s cool.”
Even-Esh’s song “Cellular Phone” was used as the soundtrack for a Bud Lite commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl. He’s since joined artists like Mac Miller and Drake in being turned into a video game character for the NBA 2K11 game.
In his lyrics, Even-Esh will throw around Jew-y words like “gefilte,” “falafel,” “yarmulke” and “Israel,” but notes that he tries to make his music appealing to all crowds.
“People are always like, ‘Who’s that white guy?’” Even-Esh said, laughing. “I’m definitely not the most observant person out there, but I like bringing Judaism to places where there’s probably none of it there — like a rap concert.”
College man: Even-Esh has a B.A. from Rutgers University, where he studied creative writing.