warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Jewish Rapper Kosha Dillz Raps For High Holidays

Taylor Haney |
September 25, 2014 | 11:14 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Rapper Kosha Dillz on the roof of his Koreatown apartment on Rosh Hashanah, September 25, 2014 (Taylor Haney/Neon Tommy)
Rapper Kosha Dillz on the roof of his Koreatown apartment on Rosh Hashanah, September 25, 2014 (Taylor Haney/Neon Tommy)
Before he became rapper Kosha Dillz, Rami Even-Esh was in and out of jail. He fought with addiction.

Because of that, “I was never an artist,” he said. “My first two shows ever, that were paid, were when I was still high.”

Those shows were all he ever performed locally in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Now he lives in Los Angeles and has been clean since 2004.

Being off drugs, he could start doing the work he wanted to do.

“I was able to just live my daily life. And people were naturally attracted to what I was doing, because I wasn’t messing it up for myself," said Dillz.

Dillz, 33, is a trilingual, Israeli-American rapper based in Koreatown. We met at his apartment Wednesday morning over coffee. For Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that ends Thursday evening, he wrote a piece in Tuesday’s Jewish Journal, “A Rosh Hashanah Rap.”

The verses mention customs of the High Holidays, childhood memories and place names from Israel to California. He performed the piece in full for me. Here is an excerpt:

“Sweet new year for my future Jewish lovely,
That “high holiday” time of the month after my birthday money,
It resonates from Qiryat Tivon to Pico, land of the sunny.
A couple l’chaims later, everything is smiles and so funny.
The first of Tishrei remember Adam and Eve.
The shofar blow honey cake and apples and treats.
Confused so great till my tummy aches,
On Yom Kippur I’ll fast and I’ll lose all that weight.”

When I brought up the High Holidays, he talked about its symbolism and culinary traditions: the sweetness of honey cake hinting at hopes for a prosperous year. And on a theological level, God determines how much money the new year will bring, an idea he said makes him feel not powerless but secure. Or, in other words, “I think it’s crazy dope.”

SEE ALSO3 Yom Kippur Foods That Will Change Your Life

“My music is really about combining, bridging cultures,” he said.

Indeed, while rapping he sometimes switches among English, Hebrew and Spanish, as in "Span-Hebrish (Ech Ani Olech)."  

“To rap in different languages for me is fun, because I like seeing the reactions off of people’s faces,” he said. And as a Jewish musician in a Spanish-speaking city, it was only natural for him to build bridges between his own languages and the language he heard in the bakery across the street.

As for the darkness in his past, Kosha Dillz said jail and addiction seeded his upbeat music. “Because I’ve gone through all this dark stuff, let me just make this happy music.” 

“I’m a rapper,” he said. “I perform on stages, rip down mikes, freestyle, street perform, tour around the world and try to make the world a better place by rapping.“

Contact Staff Reporter Taylor Haney here and follow him on Twitter here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.