Maybe it was only a matter of time before Socalled, the frizzy-haired, klezmer hip-hop hipster, tried to sidestep his ever-expanding identity as a “Jewish artist.” The arbiters of Jewish cultural identity go to great lengths to rope in the eclectic and the original, and a klezmer hip-hopper is a no-brainer. But no one wants to be pigeonholed.
While his first three albums oozed Yiddishkeit, Socalled’s musical range also bounced from funk to house to light jazz to gospel to reggae. On his latest effort, “Sleepover,” released in May, the Montreal-based artist continues his catholic approach to musical fusion but cuts out most of the Jewishness, offering 12 tracks with only thin traces of a freylekh or a nigun. Any fan taken by Socalled’s Yiddish-heavy 2003 album “HiphopKhasene” or his “Hip Hop Haggadah” follow-up, or his 2007 breakout release “Ghettoblaster,” might think the guy has completely lost his compass.