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Brooklyn, NY - Tale of Tragedy and Triumph For a Struggling Hasidic Black Convert Rap Star

Published on: September 14, 2008 09:18 AM
By: NY Daily News
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Orthodox Jewish rapper Yitzchak Jordan, known to his fans as Y-LoveOrthodox Jewish rapper Yitzchak Jordan, known to his fans as Y-Love

Brooklyn, NY - Yitzchak Jordan’s act is ‘kosher’ in the rap world, but Hasidic elders have yet to give their blessing. Pace for News

Yitzchak Jordan’s act is ‘kosher’ in the rap world, but Hasidic elders have yet to give their blessing.

He dodged bullets on a streetcorner. He watched his mother die from a cocaine addiction. But Flatbush’s Yitzchak (Y-Love) Jordan is more Hasidic than ‘hood.

New York’s only known black ultra-Orthodox Jewish rapper left his native Baltimore at 21 for Brooklyn, converting to a religion that drew him into a far different world.

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Jordan, now 29, travels the globe rhyming his views - as a black man and a Jew.

“The entire way I look at the world is a fusion between Baltimore and Brooklyn,” said Jordan last week, finishing a performance at the Knitting Factory in Tribeca.

“Being black affects everything,” he said. “I had kids stare at me like I was a gremlin in Borough Park.”

In the song, “From Brooklyn to Ramle,” Jordan raps about straddling two worlds:

The same racist systems create the same victims

Half-hour in the pizzeria, they ain’t even ask me, man ... hattan I could spend 1/2 hour hailing taxis

That’s how I live on the daily

Black man Haredi [ultra-Orthodox]

Can’t let these haters faze me ‘cuz if I did, I’d go insane!

If Jordan’s real-life story weren’t rare enough, he raps in a mix of English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, Latin and Aramaic - a homage to his love of the Torah and other old-school godly texts.

Judaism intrigued him at the age of 7 as he watched his first Passover commercial. But as a black kid in East Baltimore, he couldn’t escape the city’s violence.

“I was shot at in high school,” he said, explaining that neighborhood thugs fired two bullets at him as punishment for “acting too white.”

Rapping became Jordan’s outlet when he enrolled in a Jerusalem yeshiva at 21, two years after dropping out of Maryland’s Towson University in 1996.

He ended up on Avenue H in Flatbush, staying close to his newfound brethren, working in Manhattan as a computer programmer.

Hasids now make up Jordan’s sense of family. An only child, Jordan lost his father to cancer, then his mother to drugs.

“I wanted to be Jewish my entire life,” Jordan said. “Judaism is native to parts of Africa.”

Even though he wears a yarmulke, Jordan has street cred with the hip-hop elite.

Hip-hop magazine XXL pronounced his music “kosher,” and URB magazine called Jordan a “proud individual.”

While the bling intelligentsia praise his style, his Hasidic elders are far from fans.

In Israel, ultra-Orthodox rabbis forbid rap music, calling it unholy.

And in Flatbush, Rabbi Meir Fund, who converted Jordan, said hip-hop is harmful. “I am proud of Yitz Jordan’s efforts,” Fund said. But “music of this type will not benefit the listener spiritually.”

Jordan said he has no plans to give up his music.

“Dissing styles of music is counterproductive to the Jewish community,” Jordan said. “I have faith that in the future it will change, and all Jewish music will be seen as equally Jewish no matter what style it happens to be in.

Sample of Y-Love music performing a rap song on Aicha from Tisha B’Av


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Read Comments (28)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 14, 2008 at 09:33 AM Anonymous Says:

he may be a nice guy but he signs like cr---p

2

 Sep 14, 2008 at 09:47 AM Avrohom Abba Says:

Yo, Yitz, welcome aboard. We need each other because there are enough people out there trying to hate us and kill us. We all know the ones who believe that their god teaches them to kill and hate. They quote their book to show how their god wants more and more death and blood and murder. The one who kills the most is their biggest hero. They dance when blood is spilled and they distribute candy to their children to make sure the children learn to kill and hate.
They don't even have a tiny idea of how many of their own have escaped and have become Jewish.

Now, welcome to us. We are the people who protect life and love.
Learn Oonkelos who like you, converted. You will find that every time he translates the word ahava (love) he writes rachamim! Mercy!
We have mercy and we give mercy because Hashem has mercy and because he gives mercy.

3

 Sep 14, 2008 at 10:17 AM Moe Says:

Yitzchak Jordan is gonna open a shul where the tefilos will be said in RAP. The new kehilo will be called. The Rap Shul. Only bal tefilos who know rap will be allowed to perform at the Amid. The few times where rap is going to be a problam...like when doing the Kaporass cause the chicken can fly away when holding it over your head is now being worked out. So come on to the Rap shul on white and keap where Even the Rabbi E. K. is goona Dance and Leap

4

 Sep 14, 2008 at 10:33 AM Rechel mechel Says:

this is meshuga a person converts so WE accept his way we have 2let him know that it works just the oppsite way

5

 Sep 14, 2008 at 10:47 AM miamiyid Says:

i met him him he's a great guy !! i wuld rather my children listen to him them other rappers

6

 Sep 14, 2008 at 10:55 AM Anonymous Says:

y-love is the man!

7

 Sep 14, 2008 at 11:45 AM Lock & Load Says:

WOW I like this Y'Love Guy...
He is Very Creative , an Artist
I think he can do lots of good with our Problem Teenagers
Why would you Bann a Guy like this who is trying to get the Message out about Hashem in another light, that youngsters today communicate with.

Rather Bann those Rebbis who Molest our Children...
Lock & Load

8

 Sep 14, 2008 at 11:47 AM Hesh Says:

Move over Lipa! Yitz is the new man!

9

 Sep 14, 2008 at 11:33 AM Anonymous Says:

he is better than lipa

10

 Sep 14, 2008 at 12:02 PM Yodea Sefer Says:

Unfortunatly some rabbonim are out of touch. Ifts not Rap its something else. It dosent need to be assered (Kalever Rebbe.... Vizhnitz...... and you cant asser a new thing every day. Also ein hatzibbur...... lets work on Avoide and Bein OOdom LeChaveiro.

11

 Sep 14, 2008 at 12:21 PM Anonymous Says:

y-love is a nice guy. it doesnt matter what genre of music is being played as long as the lyrics are of a kosher subject. y-loves music is definitely kosher and has inspiring lyrics

12

 Sep 14, 2008 at 12:58 PM Gefilte Fish Says:

Yodea sefer, I'm just curious, may I ask why you wrote Kallev and Viznitz? enlighten me.

13

 Sep 14, 2008 at 01:04 PM ex frummie Says:

i actually thought this guy was pretty inspiring i enjoyed it a lot

14

 Sep 14, 2008 at 01:23 PM Anonymous sara Says:

may I suggest that lipe and this ytiz gui make a joint concert in harlem
to inspier our new jewish communty

15

 Sep 14, 2008 at 01:36 PM Anonymous sara Says:

easy way to learn how to rap take a mouth full of overnight boling hot kogil and start to sing boy will you be rapin

16

 Sep 14, 2008 at 02:34 PM s(b.) Says:

Yeah, Yitz! It's nice when people are as kind as they are creative. He's one of those people. Lev echad.

17

 Sep 14, 2008 at 04:08 PM from NJ Says:

I really like this. Thank you VIN, I would never have thought to listen to this kind of music, but now I am going to look for it because it is good.

18

 Sep 14, 2008 at 04:13 PM Anonymous Says:

anonymous sara might i suggest you learn how to spell before trying to make a witty comment

19

 Sep 14, 2008 at 07:27 PM Anonymous Says:

he is 4-real! i like the yiddish and Aramaic. nice payos!

20

 Sep 14, 2008 at 08:25 PM Reb' Hershel Says:

I don't know to much rap but I can tell you this is not rap. You seem like a nice guy try another talent, I'll give you another shot.

21

 Sep 14, 2008 at 08:10 PM formely frum Says:

I think we should send a sample to rabbi luft an see what he thinks?

22

 Sep 14, 2008 at 08:58 PM kooseemuk Says:

Yitz is the Man! My Holy Black Brother, You go Booooyyyyyy!!!!

23

 Sep 14, 2008 at 11:00 PM Anonymous Says:

I sat next to this guy all Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. This fellow is genuine. There are 26 warnings to love a ger. I don't see that his harmless rapping should stand in the way. There are many ways to worship hashem. Let him gather the nitzozos from rap music.

24

 Sep 14, 2008 at 10:54 PM Dave Says:

I wonder if y-love likes to sing about negro issues like slavery

25

 Sep 14, 2008 at 10:52 PM formely frum Says:

concerning the music ban

I thought one in not to make a gezara on a gezara.

however from what I see some robonum are making a gezara on a gezara and then another gezara on a gezara and then another gezara on a gezara and to top it off they then make a chumra. And at the end no one knows any more the original avera and why or reason behind it at some point these chumras are just meaningless

26

 Sep 15, 2008 at 10:47 PM balabusta Says:

He is good at what he does. A yid is a yid no matter what tune they dance (or sing) to.

27

 Sep 16, 2008 at 05:37 PM Y-Love Says:

A huge yasher koach for all the (with very few exceptions) positive comments. The main thing I hope to promote is achdus and diminution of sinah/machlokes, and of course, trying to bring the geulah...

28

 Sep 16, 2008 at 06:17 PM BIG MIKE Says:

hey yitzy keep up the good work

love your boy in the holy land

29

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