Rapper Kosha Dillz on His Jewish Identity and the Music Industry (INTERVIEW)

November 15, 2013 10:34 am 0 comments

The rapper Kosha Dillz. Photo: Kosha Dillz.

Out of all the Jewish rappers with a Jewish mission and identity, Kosha Dillz is the only one to have been so widely accepted by the rap industry.

His latest album, “Awkward in a Good Way,” caps a huge year for Kosha Dillz. He currently boasts his own playable character in NBA 2K11 and 2k13, which has sold more than five million copies. Kosha is also the only rapper to ever perform in Hebrew at the BET Hip Hop Cypher. I sat down with the man himself in Los Angeles recently to discuss his album and career.

Q: How did you start making music? What inspired you then and what inspires you now?

KD: I started back in the day with friends, and this guy named Sean First Born, we had our first song called “Lightning Bolts.” At the time, my buddy Yak Ballz was writing rhymes and winning competitions, and being as competitive as I was back then, I really wanted to step it up in that area. Making music was a way to share our riches together. Everyone was hustling in their own way. One of our boys was a barber. One of our boys was selling fireworks. Although we didn’t make money yet, we were still gunnin’ for the reputation.

Q: Your new album is called “Awkward in a Good Way.” What does that mean?

KD: It means that I am different than most people. It means that its OK to be different, so stop trying to fit in. It’s about not beating yourself up for being where you want to be in life. I think people will vibe with it. We all have those moments.

Q: Most people would not listen to this album and think it’s a Jewish album or even by a Jewish musician, per se. What makes your music Jewish?

KD: What makes my music Jewish is that the music comes from a Jewish soul. So what, just because you sing niggunim means that you make Jewish music? Just because you recite something that someone else wrote…doesn’t make it Jewish. I am a “Jew” and therefore, my music is Jewish.  I represent Jews on a larger and more mainstream level. You can make Jewish music in the Jewish world, but let it be known that I make Jewish music to the world, and  that speaks of the same struggles that all people go through on a personal level.

Imagine the invention of candy, per say. If people eat candy inside a candy shop where everyone loves candy, the value is not so valuable. The best pieces of candy are overlooked. Bring a decent piece of candy to a prison where everything is sour…the interest level and respect will surely rise. The level of power it has will surely rise. This is what I do. I am that to Hip Hop.

Q: What’s it like to be on such a legendary rapper like Murs’ record label?

KD: Murs is a king of what I believe in. He is DIY (do it yourself) to the core and has been on every record label. It seems that all his fans follow him and not the label, and that is something that I have in my experience as an artist. I think I am gonna connect the two completely different fan bases we have and develop a strong bond of understanding between cultures. He also teaches me a lot about boundaries and keeping things simple.

Q: RZA, one of the most famous urban producers of all time, called you the “rawest Jewish kat I know.” How did you two meet and how does it feel to be called that by the founding father of the Wu Tang Clan?

KD: I met Rza at BET when I was still trying out for BET Freestyle Friday. In 2009, DJ Skane and him were in Portland and I showed up there and kicked some rhymes for him and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s son, and DJ Skane let me kick rhymes to excite the crowd. They took me on the rest of the tour and that was that.

Q: What and who are your biggest influences?

KD: I would say my family is my biggest influence. They teach me patience. Second to them, would be my roommate and best friend, and third would be my agent. They teach me how to stop worrying about other people and how to keep the focus on my craft and goals. I am so competitive I could all of a sudden start competing with a jazz band who is playing Carnegie Hall, and think I should be on the stage. As far as music, I enjoy jazz and morning shows.

Q: Who do you see as your target demographic?

KD: The youth, man. The young kids 15-25 who want to have a kick-ass time. People are passionate about life. Young kids want to do it all. They think about sex, love, school, parties, money, and the future. My music has it all. Its not a bad thing, it’s just what we all think about…to some degree. What’s important is the delivery.

Q: How do you see Judaism as playing a role in your song writing?

KD: Everything of Judaism is in it. Honor. Integrity. References to the culture of Jews. Jokes about it. Israel etc…

Q: Who are your idols and why?

KD: I never had an idol. I didn’t think Jews get down that way. Most of my heroes are my friends at this point. I don’t think I ever wanted an idol. I wanted to work with everyone I enjoyed.

Q: What is your craziest ‘on tour’ story?

KD: I think I remember a girl in Neenah, Wisconsin, being so drunk that when she left my show, she began to drive and slid off the icey road in her car into this snow pit. It was during a snowstorm. You could barely drive sober, mind you.  She couldn’t get out of the snow and we tried to help her and she was so wasted she kept screaming at us to push her out and her car was like engulfed in snow. No one was around for miles. She called her father to help and he came and just scolded her and she was crying and we witnessed this whole awkward family trauma. They had to get her out of there before she got arrested for a DUI. The worst part was that there was a baby seat in the back.

Q: What’s your most embarrassing experience?

KD: I got booed off stage opening for 112 and couldn’t finish my set at Rutgers University. At the time, it was still the most I got paid for a show. Put things in perspective. Sometimes the best paying jobs are the worst experiences.

Q: What are your hopes for the near future?

KD: I really hope that we can bridge together all the understanding, and support the arts in the Jewish world. I am hoping to be that for the kids and bring them on out to support a show. It does us no good to only exist on the internet all day.

Kosha Dillz’ new album is available now on iTunes.

Full disclosure: The author of this interview is a paid representative of the subject.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home give dating advice to a young Jewish man in a comedic video posted Monday on YouTube just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jonathan, an associate at the Jewish home, quizzes the senior citizens on an array of topics including having sex on the first date, kissing a girl, who should pay for dinner and whether online dating is a good idea. When the 28-year-old asks a male resident named Lee about his experiences [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Anyone who spent time in the Jewish Catskills hotels – especially those like me, who returned for decades – must see the new documentary,”Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.” Not only will the film transport you back to the glory days of your youth and thousands of memories, but it will also make you long for a world that is now lost forever. I returned to Kutsher’s one last time in the summer of 2009, but by then, the [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Jewish Identity Lifestyle Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    JNS.org – Amid the numerous studies and analyses regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic, effective learning experiences. The only way we can do this is by creating space for conversations and knowledge-sharing around innovative new education models. That also [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.