The mostly secular crowed at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv had a religious experience Wednesday night when the 5 piece Haredi Hip Hop band Shtar took to the stage, traditional wardrobe intact. It wasn’t long before the crowed began to sway to the rhythm of rapper Ori M’Ori’s tassels, as he hammered out lyrics even Jay-Z could appreciate.
“We’re not making religious music, our ideals are just embedded into it.” Explained M’Ori after the three set show. “Torah is just the structure for expressing yourself and being the best you.”
This theme is overtly expressed through their music influenced by Hip Hop, Rock and Orchestral, anywhere from The Smiths to The Roots. Their gritty sound is engaging, modern and yet distinctly Jewish.
In Hebrew, the word Shtar means "contract", the foremost indicator of acquisition in Jewish law. The group consists of producer/songwriter (Binyamin Adam), hip hop lyricist (Ori M'Ori), vocalist (Dan Issac), bass player (Avi Sommers) and drummer (Tzvi Solomons).
All have impressive musical backgrounds, and it’s not surprising that Adam and M’Ori even toured with other bands before the crew met. Their talents were revealed under the most unique circumstances, while studying together in a rabbinical college in Jerusalem opposite the Western Wall.
It’s not every day that one walks away from a concert questioning their values, their purpose, humming lyrics like “Who created Infinity?”. Any myths about the confines of this religious sect are automatically dispelled, and a new appreciation is formed.
The group has toured England and Israel, and have picked up some non-Jewish followers along the way, hoping to reach a younger generation with their message, explain Adam and M’Ori.
“The message we want to deliver is that there’s more to life than just physical gain.”
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