In an effort to promote peace in the Middle East through his music, SHI 360, an Israeli-Jewish rap musician, has released a new CD in collaboration with Turkish rapper Sirat. The songs on the new album, REM UYKUSU: Rapid Eye Movement Sleep, are in Turkish, English and Hebrew, and are mainly about the hardships of daily life.
The Israeli rap musician, however, does not want the recent collaboration to be misinterpreted as signifying that he is not proud to be Israeli. Indeed, SHI 360’s lyrics certainly don’t shy away from political and world issues, having recently released a song in tribute to Jonathan Pollard. He also previously recorded “Unknown Soldiers,” a hip-hop version of Avraham Stern’s anthem of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (Lechi).
“I’m not trying to please anyone through my music,” the 35-year-old singer explained. “I have seen instances where Jewish artists collaborate with Muslim artists and they always find a need to be apologetic about Israel. If you don’t respect yourself, who will respect you?”
SHI 360 also criticized those who “promote division through boycotts and sanctions, and then present that they are cool with the other side… No one respects that,” he said.
Born Shai Haddad in Haifa to a Tunisian father and Moroccan mother, SHI 360 grew up in Montreal, Quebec where his family moved at age eleven and later attended Concordia University. The anti-Semitism he faced while in Montreal is described in the lyrics of his first album “Linguistics.”
During a visit to Israel in 1997, SHI 360 met Kobi Shimoni, a young rap artist whom he later gave his famous Israeli stage name “Subliminal.” After a trip with Birthright, SHI 360 returned to Israel and became known for his hit singles such as “Linguistiks,” and “Kabel.”