Jewish pride (BLP Kosher)

I don’t listen to much rap music these days, but my brother recently turned me on to a young, up-and-coming Jewish rapper from Florida who calls himself BLP Kosher. (The above image is a screen shot from one of his music videos on YouTube.)

Before going any further, let me say that if you are not into rap, you are unlikely to appreciate BLP Kosher’s music. He is a rapper, and his raps include cursing, sexual innuendo, and references to violence – no bones about it. Having put that out there, it must also be said that rapping is not easy; and BLP Kosher has smooth flow and very clever lyrics.

“Jewish” rapper?

BLP Kosher is hardly the first Jewish rapper. In fact, one of the best-selling music artists in history is Drake, a Jewish rapper; and there are others. However, BLP is unique among Jewish rappers, in terms of the balance he strikes between infusing his Jewishness into his music and the degree to which listeners of all backgrounds find him relatable.

On one end of the spectrum, some Jewish rappers acknowledge their Jewish identities but don’t make a big deal out of being Jewish. Their rap songs hardly ever include any Jewish themes.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are Jewish rappers who put out exclusively Jewish-themed music, and most of these artists are overtly very religious Jews.

Of course, there are many points along this spectrum, but BLP stands out to me in a way that nobody else does.

Lyrical content

BLP raps about being Jewish much the same way that Black rappers rap about their own lived experiences. His songs are gritty, just like mainstream rap songs tend to be, and his lyrics aren’t particularly spiritual, religious, or moralizing.

While pretty much every single one of BLP’s songs includes references to Jewish culture and identity, they also include references to Florida culture (he’s from Broward County), skateboarding culture (he became a serious skateboarder at age seven), and tons of pop culture references that most Americans of his generation (he’s 23) relate to.

Appearance

BLP’s appearance is very unique. He dresses like a skateboarder because that’s how he’s always dressed, wearing t-shirts, flannels, and very saggy pants. However, he also wears gold chains and a gold grill (golden jewelry on his teeth), as some rappers do. Of course, he has a Jewish Star of David hanging from one of his chains.

But it’s the Jewish aspect of BLP’s style that is truly unique. He always has his head covered with a hat, as religious Jews usually do, but his hat isn’t a typical yarmulke or fedora. And… he has Jewish side curls, which Chassidic Jews tend to have, but his are actually thick, protruding wick dreadlocks – a hairstyle that originated in South Florida.

BLP used to have regular Jewish side curls, but one of his African American friends decided to help him loc his hair out of gratitude for his teaching him about Jewish mourning rituals in the wake of his girlfriend’s death… And they’ve only grown longer and thicker over time. In some of his songs, BLP refers to his wicks as ‘horns’, because that’s exactly what they look like.

The rap community’s reaction

I have watched tons of reaction videos to BLP’s music videos. These are videos created by people who are seeped in rap culture. They make distinctions between different styles of rap associated with different geographical regions (BLP’s rap style is distinctly Floridian), and they recognize clever bars (i.e. rap lyrics), good rap beats, and smooth flow. In fact, I’ve learned more about the nuances of BLP’s songs by listening to their reactions than I could have ever caught on my own.

And… they respect him. So much.

It’s really quite amazing to me. When most of them first see BLP with his unusual hairstyle, they’re confused and even laugh, unsure whether or not he’s a serious rapper or merely a jokester… But then they begin listening to his songs and putting together the various facets of his identity, and they all begin to love him. Seriously.

And you know what they love the most, other than BLP’s natural talent and clever bars? They love his authenticity; they feel that they can relate to it. BLP doesn’t hide any part of himself – he’s proud of being a Jew, proud of being a skater, proud of being from Florida, and just generally a confident and talented rapper.

And the funniest thing to me is watching these rap music lovers begin to unpack BLP’s Jewish references. Many of them know next to nothing about Judaism and Jewish culture. Some don’t know what a dreidel is. Many don’t know how to pronounce the phrase, ‘Mazel tov’. And those are some of the simplest Jewish lyrics that BLP includes in his songs… He’s introducing a whole world of people to Jewish culture in a way that they have never been exposed to it before.

See, they don’t learn anything about Judaism from those Jewish rappers who barely ever mention their Jewish identities; and they don’t connect in the slightest to those Jewish rappers whose every single rap song is Jewishly (and often religiously) themed.

But BLP is right in the middle of that equation – in every possible way. And he’s so real. He truly is entirely himself – a young Jewish man who chose to become religious and started keeping kosher but never felt that he had to compartmentalize any part of his identity for his non-Jewish community. He was keeping his head covered and wearing side curls for years before he ever thought of becoming a rapper… In one of his skateboarding videos, I even noticed that he was wearing those fringes (tzitzit) that religious Jewish men traditionally wear.

I’m not a member of the rap community, but I’ll be the first to admit that BLP Kosher has really stolen my heart with his fantastically clever rap lyrics, earnestness, and very, very public Jewish pride.

62 thoughts on “Jewish pride (BLP Kosher)”

  1. I like Jew On the Canoe, Chopping Block, Hanukkahween 2, The Nac 2. I love clever lyrics. He’s definitely intelligent with his lyrics, and I like all the pop culture references. I heard in the one track he said his “twin died” so I looked it up. Jew Sheisty. I’m having trouble finding anything about how he died. I see another friend of his was shot by the police.🙄🙏🏼

    “Kosher pickle, keep a barrel, while I’m skatin Jason Dill”

    “Alopecia, she say all these other rappers dandruff”

    “we in the cut, we get a gauze bandage”

    “thought I was a b- because I ran him down in Crocs”🤣🤣

    “the boy who in the striped pajamas got revenge and grabbed the torch” (have you ever seen that movie😭😭😭😭) but this is by far one of my favorite lyrics

    “I’m not a Christian but I’ll put the Jew in Dior”💅🏻💅🏻

    “He did a drive-by? His ass lyin’, country safari”🤣🤣🤣🤣

    I like him. I’d love to see him diversify his lyrics since he raps a lot about guns and sex and we don’t really need anymore of that. Haha. The other stuff is interesting and funny, so he really has a lot going for him without as much of that, even though it’s part of the culture.

    1. yeah – I couldn’t find anything about how Jew Sheisty died either… I’m guessing drug overdose (but I don’t know)

      it’ll be interesting to see how BLP grows as an artist – lyrically, etc…!

  2. Reminded me of when Matisyahu started out – he asked his Rabbi for permission to tour and he kept his audiences separated by gender (no idea how they pulled that off in the US).
    When I met Alex Clare, I didn’t get close enough for a pic because he couldn’t touch women and we were kept about 5′ from him.

  3. Thank you for a very interesting post. I have heard very little rap music. I will listen to him. I have shared the link of your post with my son. Regards, Lakshmi

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