First Kendrick Lamar, Now Kodak Black — Another Rapper Goes Hebrew Israelite by the Forward

First Kendrick Lamar, Now Kodak Black — Another Rapper Goes Hebrew Israelite

Image by Getty Images

Weeks after Kendrick Lamar surprised some listeners by calling himself an Israelite, another celebrity rapper has done the same.

Kodak Black may have just gone Hebrew Israelite.

In a string of Instagram posts this month, the 20-year-old rapper told his millions of followers that he is now an Israelite — specifically from the tribe of Levi. In one photo, Black posed in a suit while wearing a Star of David pendant. One photo was partially captioned: “I Can’t Lie I’m #Israel #12TribesOfIsrael #Levite.”

Hebrew Israelites are people of color, mostly but not all African American, who identify as the true descendant of the biblical Israelites. The movement is diverse and has multiple branches or denominations. Some high profile celebrities have recently referenced or embraced this identity, including Lamar and basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire.

Black’s reference to being a Levite stems from a popular Hebrew Israelite teaching that specific nationalities are descended from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Haitians, according to a widely circulated “tribe chart,” are descended from the tribe of Levi.

Black was introduced to this belief and others while serving a jail sentence in Florida. A teacher known as Priest Kahan, who conducts prison ministry in the state, made contact with Black and studied scripture with him.

“Kodak Black is another individual who has unfortunately been caught up in the system,” Kahan told the Forward in a phone interview. “He’s facing so much temptation.”

Kahan now leads a Hebrew Israelite congregation that, according to its website, “observe[s] and teach[es] the laws and statutes of the Most High through Hamashiach Yahawashi,” using a Hebrew name for Jesus and describing him as the Messiah.

Kahan met with Black half a dozen times over the course of the rapper’s imprisonment. “I just tried to enlighten him,” he said. “This is new to him.”

Black served 97 days in jail for violating house arrest in relation to another case. He was released on June 5.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

Author

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.

Rapper Kodak Black Goes Hebrew Israelite

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

First Kendrick Lamar, Now Kodak Black — Another Rapper Goes Hebrew Israelite

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close