The festival of Pesach also brings with it the counting of the Omer, a sad period in the Jewish calendar. During this time it is generally forbidden to have parties and celebrations involving music, or to listen to any music other than acapella.
As such, you wouldn’t imagine it would be a good time for a Hasidic rapper such as Y-Love to release a new album, but that’s just what he’s done. Only Sefira – which translates as Count It – is no ordinary long-player. Casting aside all musical instruments, this is an album of religious rap from one of the finest Jewish hip-hoppers around – with the only backing track provided by human beatbox extraordinaire Yuri Lane.
The album takes a trip through the Jewish calendar, with tracks devoted to Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Purim, among others – however among the highlights are two Passover-friendly numbers, Watch (in which Y-Love offers his own unique spin on the festival and its laws) and Next Pesach….In Jerusalem (inspired by the words at the end of the Seder service).
Jewish hip-hop can be a bit hit and miss at times, and there was always the danger that Sefira could have followed in the gimmicky footsteps of other kosher rappers – but fortunately that’s not the case. Y-Love’s vocals are fast-paced and skilful, while Yuri Lane is such a talented beatboxer that at times it’s easy to forget that the whole album is acapella.
Ultimately, Sefira is one of the best Jewish rap albums to come along in a long while, blending intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics with some cutting edge beats, and making you think even as it makes you dance. A must for any Jewish music collection.
Sefira is out now on Modular Moods.
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