Haredi rapper Ohad Cohen releases upbeat anti-Iranian single filled with bottomless contempt for Ahmadinejad and a steady flow of Jewish faith
The world has been following Iran's progress in its bid to create a nuclear bomb with constant concern but Ohad Cohen is happy and carefree. The haredi rapper has released an upbeat anti-Iranian single filled with bottomless contempt for Ahmadinejad and a steady flow of Jewish faith.
Ohad Cohen, 27, a follower of Chabad hassidism from Tel Aviv and born rapper is the lead singer of the 'Rachmounes' – a hip hop and reggae band which is currently working on its solo album.
Cohen, who sticks out with his beard and tzitzit would love to be compared to Matisyahu, minus his recent religious upheavals.
He wrote 'Ahmadinejad' five years ago, "When the story with Iran started." What began as a writing exercise in connecting to Cohen's Jamaican rapper idol Super Cat, turned into an upbeat clip with a multitude of styles. Appropriate for a rapper with eastern European traditions in the heart of the Middle East.
Yet Cohen didn't start out as a hassidic rapper. He was born to a secular family in Petah Tikva and from a young age felt a connection with the hip-hop scene.
After taking part and winning some free-style competitions he was invited to take part a popular radio show after which clubs started to open their doors to him. "After my military service I started DJ-ing… while at the same time searching for myself," he noted.
"I draw my inspiration from reggae music which often touches upon issues that are very close to Judaism and taken from the torah, with a great deal of strength."
"I live in constant aspiration of taking the good – and there is good – from the path my life has followed so far. Not to erase it, rather to find the connection with God. From the moment I returned to religion it was clear to me that music is a tool that can be used. All of my experience has not been in vain, that was always clear to me."
These days Cohen and his band mates (who are not religious) are working on an album that is set to drop next winter and most likely won't be featured in hassidic homes. Cohen says the style is "hip-hop and reggae with rock and a touch of electronic music, and the influence of hassidic melodies."
From the moment he became religious, Cohen has been living the not always comprehensible combination of haredi and secular life which he refuses to disconnect from. His parents who at first were critical of his choice are now keeping kosher and observing the Shabbat. His big brother has since also become religious.
"I belong to the Tel Aviv Chabad house," he says and adds "here I receive lots of support for what I do. I'm encouraged to use my talent. Everything in this world was created for God."