Remedy comes to Rangos
?I represent real hip-hop,? a short, bulky white man said, dressed in grey sweats and a Kangol cap. In a music industry where image is everything and labels all too often define popular artists, Remedy ? a white Jewish rapper from Staten Island, New York ? stormed Rangos Ballroom Saturday night with hopes of breaking down stereotypes that plague not only the music business, but many aspects of modern society.
Before performing to a half-filled Rangos Ballroom Saturday night, Wu-Tang Clan affiliate Remedy and his troupe of rappers and producers stopped off at the Hillel Jewish University Center to speak with reporters from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, and other organizations in the area.
Remedy, a proud supporter of Judaism, often travels to Jewish day camps, Hebrew schools, and college campuses to promote his message of peace across all religions, nationalities, and races. In 2003, he had the opportunity to travel to Israel with fellow rapper Killah Priest, with whom Remedy shared the bill on Saturday night.
From the beginning, Saturday night?s concert was all about cross-cultural understanding and acceptance. Before a single note was played, Lucas Brenowitz ? Remedy?s manager ? spoke for 10 minutes about diversity in Israel. ?The second language in Israel is actually Arabic, followed by Russian,? Brenowitz said. ?It?s a much more diverse place than people think.? In fact, Israel was one of the first countries to have a female Prime Minister. Brenowitz emphasized the group?s desire to bring diversity and acceptance, prevalent in Israel?s culture, to America and the rest of the world.
Before Remedy took the stage, Lowngealo, JJ Pellegrino, and Killah Priest all performed several songs, each one with his own unique style. Lowngealo took the stage with an aggressive attack, jumping on stage monitors and running through the crowd while shouting, ?Code Red, lock ?n? load!? JJ Pellegrino, dressed in blue warm-ups and a wifebeater, was more elegant in his performance, frequently stopping mid-song, either to fix levels or get the audience involved. Killah Priest, dressed in black with a hood over his head, slowly strolled on stage with a mysterious air that added to the sentimentality of his lyrics.
?My nationality is humanity, I represent reality,? Remedy shouted as he stormed the stage. Unlike other famous Jewish musicians such as Matisyahu, Remedy?s outer appearance revealed little about his religious affiliation. Remedy sported a red Budweiser racing jacket and baggy blue jeans. Instead of using ?diamond rings and material things,? Remedy relied strictly on his lyrics to deliver his message of peace and unity. ?Keep your ears and eyes open,? Remedy warned before breaking into ?Book of Life.? Promoting outreach and understanding, all four rappers chanted, ?Stop, look, listen, read, think, feel, move, breathe!?
Remedy then broke into his most famous number, ?Never Again,? which was written in response to the atrocities committed in the Holocaust. ?To the men, women, and children who died and struggled to live, never to be forgotten... never again,? he chanted as he sat on a stool, passionately pounding out lyrics about his rich heritage that was once ?tortured, slaved, raped, robbed, and persecuted.?
The fact that Remedy cites the Beastie Boys and Run DMC at Madison Square Garden in New York as his favorite concert should not come as a surprise. The Beastie Boys is a group of three Caucasian Jews from Brooklyn, while Run DMC was made up of three African-American men from Queens. The unity of the two bands in the same concert was a groundbreaking statement of acceptance.
In his interview at the Hillel JUC, Remedy put a strong emphasis on staying away from major record labels. Being on a big label is ?all about the almighty dollar,? Remedy said. ?Things with true meaning are now meaningless.... It?s like selling your soul.? Remedy?s views on the record industry go hand in hand with his positive message of being true to yourself and those around you: ?Hip-hop is about who and what you are. I put who and what I am into my music.?
Saturday night?s concert ended with students and members of the community gathering up on stage to sing, dance, rap, and even eat brownies that were made for Killah Priest?s birthday. If the positive vibes and great music didn?t make the concert a fabulous experience, the brownies certainly did.