In honor of the approaching New Year, let’s sum up the accomplishments of some of the biggest Jewish artists in urban music. From Canadian rappers who topped the charts to producers who emerged from disgrace to grace the boards, we’ve had quite a year to sing about.
Drake: By now, everyone knows of Drake, the Canadian, half-African-American, Jewish rapper who took the charts by storm. Linked up with Lil’ Wayne’s Cash Money camp, Drizzy collaborated with everyone from Rihanna — on her #1 smash “What’s My Name?” — to Lil’ Wayne. After his four recent Grammy nominations, Drake has a lot to celebrate this Hanukkah.
J.R. Rotem: The frequent mogul behind hits like Iyaz’s “Replay” had quite a few good chart moments in 2010. His recent collaborations include bright new star Nicki Minaj’s song, “Fly,” with Rihanna. Rotem is currently working on albums for Leona Lewis and FeFe Dobson. With such stars in his arsenal, Rotem should have a successful 2011.
Scott Storch: After several years in legal hot water, Storch returned in 2010 with the beat behind OutKast member Big Boi’s thumping single “Shutterbugg.” Even though the song didn’t top the charts, it marked a comeback for a talented musician whose career had strayed off the tracks. Storch recently worked on a new Quincy Jones record and should regain even more of his former superstar status in the coming years.
Evan “Kidd” Bogart: As a songwriter, Evan Bogart worked this year with Enrique Iglesias and Jason Derulo. He is also putting in the hours on a Bravo reality series about finding the next major songwriter. His long list of hits include Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” and Brandy’s “Right Here (Departed).”
Mark Ronson: The hitmaker behind some of Amy Winehouse’s and Lily Allen’s bigger numbers, Ronson crosses genres between urban and pop. He’s also worked with Solange, Ghostface Killah, and Wale, as well as other hip-hop stars. Currently working on music with Duran Duran, Ronson is a force to be reckoned with both at home and across the pond.
The Alchemist: For the true lovers of hip-hop out there, the Alchemist is a name concurrent with classic records. Having produced for Game, Eminem, and Cypress Hill, among others, he has quite the presence in hip-hop. In 2010 alone, the Alchemist worked with Cam’ron and Vado, Styles P, and more. Expect more classic beats from this talented individual in the future.
And of course… The Maccabeats: By this point, we’re all familiar with the Maccabeats. Their “Candlelight” video has already reached two million hits, riffing off of Taio Cruz’s hip-pop song “Dynamite.” The Yeshiva University group a capella group formed in 2007 and originally only performed for each other. In 2010, the group released its first album “Voices from the Heights.” With their smash hit, the group will definitely be around for a little while longer.
As is visible, Jews have had a large impact on the urban and pop music industries this year and in the past. These figures are a few of the more well-known hip-hop and R&B talents, but there are plenty of underground gems just waiting to be brought to public attention. With the Festival of Lights upon us, let’s celebrate Jewish contribution to urban music and bring some of these individuals to light.