Jewish Artists From New York Release New Rap Album in English, Hebrew, Aramaic
Eden Pearlstein freely admits that he has an addiction. But his brings people up instead of bringing them down.
“I am a chronic collaborator,” says Pearlstein, a 35-year-old rapper who goes by the moniker of Eprhyme, and has released several solo albums.
“Deeper and Higher” — his new album — is a collaboration with Shir Yakov Feit, who co-writes the songs and music. The friends and fellow artists both explore the relationship between man and God, and the benefit and emotional weight of introspection.
With lyrics in English, Hebrew, and Aramaic, the artists stress that they are not telling anyone what to do.
“We in no way claim to have an answer,” says Feit. “This album is a reflection of our God-wrestling. We’re not preaching. That’s what it means to be Yisrael. You grapple with what it means.”
Pearlstein, who grew up secular on the West Coast says he came to Judaism as an adult, became observant, and now describes himself as religiously “always in flux.” He said the group’s music promotes no agenda.
“If there is a kiruv (religious outreach) element, it’s about, getting people to become closer to their true selves,” he says. “It’s not about moving in any specific religious direction.”
The rapper said he dabbled in psychedelics when he was younger and explored shamanism. He has a master’s degree in experiential education and another in Jewish Thought and Philosophy from The Jewish Theological Seminary. Asked about recent media attention to young Jews who have broken away from ultra-orthodox sects and have to deal with the trauma of being cut off by their families, he said he was saddened.
“In every religion, there are fundamentalists that believe you have to ostracize someone that doesn’t share your belief level,” he said.
He said that those who are still asking how a Jew could rap are out of touch.
“The only stigma from Jews being rappers is from other Jews,” he said. “It’s Jews who are not grounded in the hip-hop community. Because if you are, you know if you’re dope, you’re dope and if you can rhyme, you can rhyme.”
“Before Darkness” or “Or Zarua” in Hebrew, is a mind-permeating tune that benefits from the addition of Elana Brody. Brody’s voice is hauntingly gorgeous in the song, which seems like it might be sung as angels are determining whether or not you’ll get into Heaven.
The duo also sing “Ghetto Nightingale,” a track about a Polish singer killed in the Warsaw Ghetto.
The album ends with “Know Return,” a song that displays vulnerability and some psychedelic undertones.
Feit is training to be a rabbi under the ALEPH Ordination Program as part of the Jewish Renewal, a branch of egalitarian Judaism. He describes himself as a holistic Jew who is looking “to do right by my neshama (soul) and the creator.”
He first became friends with Pearlstein at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side many years ago.
Feit said he hopes his music fosters curiosity .
“The more we think we know, the less we know,” he said.