White. Gay. Jewish. Rapper?

By Mordechai Shinefield

Published August 12, 2005, issue of August 12, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Andrew Singer is the nicest gay, Jewish, white rapper alive. This isn’t hyperbole. He also happens to be the only gay, Jewish, white rapper alive.

Singer, 25, now lives in Manhattan’s East Village, but his voyage began in Kensington, N.H., about an hour north of Boston. Singer, who attended Hebrew school in Portsmouth, N.H., sees Judaism as an intrinsic part of who he is.

“The music is for everyone and I don’t really rap about being Jewish that much. But I’m not going to act like I’m not Jewish,” said Singer, whose nom de mic is Soce the Elemental Rapper.

And indeed, in some of his songs, Singer will literally thrust Judaism to the foreground. A version of his song “Work/Play,” starts with the words “This is the Bar Mitzvah remix,” before heading into territory too sexually explicit to reprint in here. During live performances, at a pivotal moment in the song, he starts swaying as if in engaged in prayer and chanting over and over, “Today I am a man, Today I am a man.”

The Bar Mitzvah Work/Play remix combines a slow reggae-style beat with a classic Yiddish klezmer melody. “People love the Bar Mitzvah remix,” Singer said. “It takes them back to their youth when they went to their friends’ bar mitzvahs.”

Singer recognizes that his music is not always appropriate for all audiences. At a recent show in a synagogue before an older Jewish audience, he was unsure of how the crowd would respond to songs that were in equal measure Jewish and sexual. To avoid any unpleasantness, he said, he “broke out the violin and started doing a lot of classic Yiddish songs.” Though the response was generally positive, not everyone was thrilled. “There was this whole crew banging a table in the back waiting for the more nasty stuff. They had to come to one of my shows to hear that. I didn’t feel comfortable doing those raps in the basement of the Temple,” Singer said.

When asked what his most memorable show was, Singer points to a Passover revue at the Brooklyn Academy of Music called Seder-Matzochism. “It was supposed to be about struggle and people’s attempts to get freedom,” Singer recalled. So what did he perform? The most offensive song in his musical catalog, the title of which is a sexual act. “Because it was about how I am still in bondage. How I’m still struggling,” he said.

Singer got into hip-hop music in junior high, inspired by a local New Hampshire underground hip-hop radio station. Ironically, his parents listened to the same station on Sunday mornings to a Hebrew show called Chagigah (Hebrew for celebration).

It wasn’t until he finished school and came to New York in 2003, though, that he really started rapping about his own experience as a white, gay, Jewish Ivy Leaguer (he attended Yale) from New Hampshire. “I didn’t use to be this crazy over the top gay rapper until I got here,” he told the Forward over a shwarma in the neighborhood he now calls home. When he started going to hardcore hip-hop open mics, he had to find his own way to distinguish himself. His persona as the first gay, Jewish, white rapper was born.

“I figure if I got on stage and did a rap about how tough I was, people would be like, ‘This guy is a total poseur.’ So instead I rap about who I am. Rap about the Jewish side. The white side. The gay side.”

And, Singer said, people end up responding to his music best when he “keeps it real.”

“The odds of making it as a skinny white MC aren’t that big anyway. So I might as well make it fun, which is playing out the gay and Jewish thing.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.