99 Problems But a Bar Mitzvah Ain’t One

Jews have a semi-long and semi-illustrious history in rap music (Beastie Boys: yes; Mac Miller: no; Drake: the jury’s still out). Even Jay-Z’s given Jews a few shout-outs: a “mazel tov” here, a “l’chaim” there and, memorably, an admonition that “You’re crazy for this one, Rick.” (The Rick in question being Rick Rubin, record producer and Long Island native, who worked with Jay-Z on his much-loved “Black Album.”) So of course some denizens of the rap world would have fond memories of their bar-mitzvah days. Grantland’s on it. A few choice quotes:

  • Matisyahu: “That summer in camp when I was supposed to be learning my haftorah I was learning more about female anatomy…I don’t think I was truly bar mitzvah’d in the sense of becoming a man until much later. Maybe 16, the first time I ate LSD; or maybe 17, when I spent Thanksgiving in rehab; or maybe 21, the first time I put on T’fillan. Or maybe a month ago when I shaved my beard.”
  • Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang: “The bar mitzvah is the turning point where your family starts getting you drunk. They’re all arguing around the dinner table, and your grandpa is like, ‘Give him the whiskey,’ and your grandma is like, ‘Oh, he’s such a little boy,’ and your grandpa’s like, ‘Oh, he’s been bar mitzvah’d, he’s a man, he drinks.'”
  • Peter Rosenberg (Hot 97 DJ): “I was Bar Mitzvah’d in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on October 31, 1992…The party was at the Holiday Inn on Wisconsin Ave. A nice Holiday Inn, FYI!” (We’re suckers for any story set in Montgomery County. How many bar-mitzvahs did we go to at that Holiday Inn? Ah, youth!)
  • Necro: “I learned the ritual. Mom dukes was religious, so there was no playing around with that.”
  • Drake: “The song of the night was Backstreet Boys’ ‘I Want It That Way.'” (Apparently Canadians and Americans aren’t as different as you think.)

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