Arts & Culture

How Does the ‘Dor Yeshorim’ Rap Measure Up?

A musical critique of the viral Internet hit. Read More

By / May 25, 2016

Editor’s Note: A few days ago, a video went viral of two unnamed Yeshiva girls rapping about their dream lives, with a central focus on Dor Yeshorim, a service that provides genetic testing to Jewish couples so that they can avoid passing on diseases like Tay-Sachs.

Dor Yeshorim has disavowed the video, and claims that the girls reached out saying they regret the video’s leak. Since the girls are remaining anonymous, it is unclear if this is true, so as a compromise, we will not post the video here but link to it.  You can also read the full lyrics on Genius.

I decided to reach out to my resident expert on both Yeshiva life and rap music to analyze the girls’ song (#frumcore?) and decide whether or not it lives up to the hype, and examine its rap style and origins:

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No disrespect, Beis Yaakov girls, I love what you’re doing, and you know I only say this because I’m truly genuine but someone’s got to say it: your flow is a shtickel wack. As a matter fact, all these frum MCs need to seriously step up. The current state of Orthodox rhyming is a chillul hashem, no question.

OK, OK, am I being too harsh? Aren’t these just kids? Of course I am, of course they are, but stick with me.

When I was in yeshiva a young fellow named Yaakov Shwekey was burning up kumzitzes and keduashas. There was genuine excitement in my high school when he passed through Chicago. I didn’t follow my friends to the concert, something I still regret. I bet Shwekey puts on a great show.

This was 2001, and while pop charts were dominated by Destiny’s Child, a smattering of R&B artists and the last gasps of commercial pop rock, Yaakov Shwekey’s music featured a disco beat. How significantly was Orthodox music behind the times? Disco Demolition Night was 1979, so let’s round it off to a solid thirty-year lag.

(Was Shwekey just disco? Of course not. There’s Carlebach in there, along with chazonus and a lot of other things. But the disco groove is undeniable.)

Back to the frum MCs: Our rap game is in the 1980s. We’ve got to stop rapping like Ronald Reagan is in office. Flow has evolved tremendously since then. In particular, rap no longer sounds like this:

Though, about 30 years ago, it did:

So, yeshiva boys and Beis Yaakov girls, turn off the metronome, loosen up. Some internal rhyme, please. And your rhythms sound like nursery songs. These day, rap sounds like this:

I don’t mean to boast, but damn, if I don’t brag

Them crackers gon’ act like I ain’t on they ass

The Martha Stewart that’s far from Jewish

Far from a Harvard student, just had the balls to do it

Minus the “damn,” “ass” and “balls” I see no reason why frum rap can’t sound more like this.

In conclusion, frum girls, your rhymes are wack. But they need not be. Study up, and start catching up.

Image credit: Pixabay