Most historians, cultural critics and hip hop intellectuals will tell you that hip-hop is inherently political. Its humble beginnings within marginalized communities spoke volumes locally. And when it comes to larger-scale issues, like the modern day Mid-East conflict, it’s no secret which side hip-hop generally leans towards. Judaism has never been a particularly safe bet – it was never framed as the rebels’ religion of choice. So when a proudly-Jewish emcee teams up with a brother from New York, it’s difficult to keep politics out of the mix.
On the surface, Freestyle vs. Written – a project featuring C-Rayz Walz and Kosha Dillz – could be any indie LP by any indie artist. It could be filed neatly under the “underground hip-hop” category with its safe, traditional hip-hop sound. However, it is different thematically. Kosha Dillz offers a candidly Jewish perspective throughout – exactly what you’d expect with titles like, “I Love Jews,” and “Ariel Sharon.”
With many young urbanites residing on the left of the political spectrum, rocking the familiar black and white kuffiyeh (often interpreted as a symbol of solidarity with Palestine), references to “the state of Israel” and “terrorists” are bound to raise eyebrows. But regardless of your political slant, Kosha Dillz is entitled to his.
The admirable sincerity of “Babywipes” and “Holiday” are noteworthy, although the tendency to rehash similar themes in every song eventually wears thin. But the consistently well-crafted lyrics that make you question whether or not they truly are all off the top, are testament to C-Rayz’s talent.
Both emcees manage to hold down their end of the freestyle-written deal, with witty, irreverent lyrics and candor. Freestyle vs. Written scores points for trying something different, even if it isn’t the most entertaining.
- Alison Isaac