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Rap Star Kodak Black Wants A Hebrew Name — The One Priests Have

Since his release from jail last month, 20-year-old rapper Kodak Black has gone through a dramatic spiritual transformation — proclaiming himself a descendant of the biblical Levites and diving deep into the Hebrew Israelite world.

Now, he wants a new name.

Black, whose birth name is Dieuson Octave, filed last month to legally change his name to “Bill Kahan Blanco,” court documents show. Kahan is the Hebrew title for “priest.”

“He said that [the name] Kodak Black was associated with negativity,” said Priest Kahan, the spiritual leader who introduced Black to Hebrew Israelite doctrine while the rapper was in jail. “I spoke to him about it. He wanted a fresh start.”

Black has visited Kahan’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida, congregation, Thee Light of Zion Ministries, on a number of occasions since his release, and the two are in regular contact. Kahan said he was supportive of the name change, at least the Hebrew part. As for “Bill” and “Blanco”? “I don’t know why he did that.”

Black’s newfound identification with the priestly tribe of Levites stems from a popular Hebrew Israelite teaching that specific nationalities are descended from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Black has roots in Haiti and, according to a widely circulated “tribe chart,” Hatians are descended from the tribe of Levi.

Black’s Hebrew Israelite transformation has played out largely on social media, where he surprised fans by posing with a Star of David pendant and captioning his photos with Hebrew words. On his latest single he also rapped, “I’m an Israelite.”

Hebrew Israelites are people of color, mostly African American, who identify as the true descendant of the biblical Israelites. The movement is diverse and has multiple branches or denominations. Other celebrities have recently referenced or embraced this identity, like Kendrick Lamar and basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire.

Contacr Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com or on Twitter, @skestenbaum

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Rap Star Kodak Black Wants A Hebrew Name — The One Priests Have

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