Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

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 [email protected] or on Twitter, @skestenbaum

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.